Insights

Angela Lee Loy

You need time for your business

We women, need more time to do the great things we do. Here’s our Chairman’s full speech at TT Chamber “Women & Entrepreneurship” Oct 25, 2017 compared to the angle the media reported recently

Good morning everyone,

I am delighted and honoured to be here this morning.

We are all gathered here to share knowledge and experiences as entrepreneurs and business leaders in our industry / to inspire growth and to network.

Although this is focused on women leaders, it is important for men to be part of this discussion. We, women already know the female perspective.

But how many of us have shared it with our partners, husbands, friends, and colleagues?

As women, we think we can do it all.

Alone.

But success is not done alone. You need support to do what you can do. You need time.

Time to get your strategy off the ground, sell your goods and services, and mentor your staff, network in your industry and reach out for advice for your business.

There comes a point where there is only so much you can do for your business because come 3pm you have to pick up the kids, football, homework, dinner at 6, plan next day meals, pay bills, take care of your home, see about your parents and make quality time for your partners. Plus! Help a friend, fundraise for a cause and the list goes on.

There are only 24 hours in a day. How are you going to take your business to the next level knowing as a woman we have another role – the nurturing one.

It is in our nature to want to do it all. We clean house because we think we do it better than our partners. We do tasks at work because we think we are the best suited to do it.

We think our partners take too long or our staff may take longer and we cannot wait.

But you need to give them an opportunity to do it. Let them prove it to you. Share the balance and let them in. That requires you to develop patience.

So you can focus and also have a balance. You need to communicate your goals and reach out to your partner and entire family and friends so they can support you in your vision. And give you time.

You need even more time if you are also working in a 9-5 job and working on your business on the side.

I run an outsourcing company because I am well aware that some businesses cannot do it all and it is in fact easier and more profitable to outsource it. Do the same for your home.

So don’t be afraid to ask for help

And delegate well.

In my early career, I did spend a great deal of time on the sofa with audit files on my lap whilst I watched movies with my family. We have to make it work. You need support to do what you can do.

The reality is there are sacrifices that come with running your business. Something has to sacrifice. There is still a stigma that men do not stay home to take care of kids. That needs to change. They need to lean in and give equal support so that you both can be successful. But they can only lean in if you ask and let them do it. In their own way. Not your way.

When it comes to family and friends, 8 out of 10 times they are the ones that give you the start up funding. When this runs out, you need to reach out to people and institutions for advice and if they don’t have it, ask for referrals and contacts.

History will tell you, if a woman borrows, most likely they will pay back. Women do not falter on loans.

In order to get the loans, you need to have a solid business plan. Last week, my company ran a business plan advice session and the biggest point was your ability to convince the lender that you have an excellent product or service. Give time towards developing your business plan, make ensure it communicates well and your forecasts are realistic. Run your drafts by friends and contacts; let them question it so you can develop it further.

Be confident.

We women have intuition and gut. A fair amount of my decisions has gone on my gut feeling.

Early in my career at PwC, there was a team building session where they did the Myers Brigg personality assessment that revealed we were all good at judgement. We were split equally between introverts and extroverts.

But when it came to intuition and perception, I was the only one. I thought something was wrong with me so I asked the facilitator. She said, nothing is wrong. It just indicated the organisation needed more people with my trait.

It goes back to balance and continuously learning. Male leaders can only know what is presented to them. And sometimes having a strategic mind-set is important to getting your job done successfully.

Leverage all your tools in your favour without compromising your ethical stance. Years ago, i often attended meetings with a male colleague as a “front”, not because i was nervous or didn’t know what i was doing, but because of the misogyny present in the industry.

Knowing what i was often up against, i employed this tactic simply to get the attention of the person with whom i was meeting. Once i got in there, it became properly apparent that i was the one with whom they’d come to do business and i’d take it from there.

With increasing numbers of women taking the reins in all sorts of industries, it’s clear that we’ve indeed come a long way from where we once were, but misogyny continues to rear its ugly head in various, perhaps subtler forms, and although the fight against sexism in the business landscape is an external one, it is primarily a battle of the mind.

While the fight for equality, to have our entrepreneurial ideas taken as seriously as those brought forward by men, it’s important to accept that we are simply unable to make converts of everyone who harbours sexist beliefs. You’d even find some women whose actions would consciously or unconsciously hinder your progress as an entrepreneur due to internal misogyny.

The lesson here is that there are persons whose mentalities will not change. While we’re here to make our mark on the business environment with novel ideas, to create new niches and find interesting and innovative ways to fulfil customers’ needs, it can be very easy to get lost in futile activism. What happens in this case, is we expend valuable resources getting caught up in resentment and efforts to shift mentalities that just won’t budge.

As women entrepreneurs or women in business who aim to launch entrepreneurial endeavours of our own, we should cease to be activists; we should never stop the fight against misogyny, however, this passion should be channelled into moving towards further successes. To quote award-winning journalist and entrepreneur, michele ruiz, “if people are doubting how far you’ll go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore.”

Remain passionate about your work. My outsourcing business slogan is focus on your core and we’ll do the rest. You need to focus on your core, your goal, your mission and let everyone else help you get there despite external challenges, despite the need for more gender equality. Reach out to family, friends, networks, seek mentorship. Because success is not achieved alone.

Outline your goals, yes, but always have a plan b, and perhaps even a plan c. A contingency plan, especially during these relatively uncertain economic times is key to maintaining success--of course, achieving it is one thing, but remaining in a place of prosperity is a different beast to conquer altogether.

This can mean a host of things--having to downsize, restructure, rebrand or merely to develop a shift in focus to assist with prioritisation.

As female entrepreneurs, we just might have a bit more in us to anticipate the unforeseen given our tendency towards having more of a big-picture view.

Armed with an acquired knowledge of your environment, a sixth sense that can almost be described as a “street-wise” quality, and most of all--at the risk of appearing trite--a belief in yourself, in your brand and in your destination, your voyage, while it may not be an altogether smooth one, will prove to be a fulfilling and successful journey.

Remain passionate. Every challenge that comes your way, see it as an opportunity and stay focused to get it done.

You have to have the passion for what you are doing and really have to want it.

Communicate your vision well to those who you need to reach out to for help – your family, your friends, your work colleagues, research contacts, talk to institutions, keep meeting people, and never give up.