Guest blogger Bea Wray is the Chair of the Entrepreneurial Practice Group at Advantage Media Group | Forbesbooks in Charleston, S.C. She is an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker and a mentor.
In my position traveling around the country helping executives and entrepreneurs expand their brand and grow their business, I’ve encountered something I never expected to see: The reticence of women to invest in themselves.
I come to this conclusion having a unique perspective. Working at Forbesbooks, I consult with professionals about how publishing a book to share expert advice can help brand the author as the go-to authority in their field. How ‘tooting ones’ own horn’ is a smart business move. The statistical proof of such a strategy is proven. A by-line is still one of the most effective calling cards in attracting, maintaining and growing a business.
I work with authors in the shaping, writing, publishing and marketing of their book….
…for a fee.
And that’s the litmus test.
I’m asking professionals to have enough faith in their talents and knowledge that they’re willing to invest in themselves.
I noticed almost immediately that women were the minority of our client base so I made it a point to aggressively close that gap. The world is full of smart women who have a unique understanding of their industries and who people are anxious to learn from.
The women I was approaching were as accomplished, as successful and as financially-able as their male counterparts. They had a story that was worth sharing that would set them apart from their competition. As a mater of fact, their story was more compelling then their male counterparts since they fought harder, were more strategic and could tell their stories with both power and emotion.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take. My efforts were constantly frustrated.
Despite the proven benefits, women were significantly less apt to sign on.
I had to ask myself a number of questions.
Was it the product? I had to answer no. Anecdotal and statistical information, cost-analysis, ROI. They all proved my claim that a book would indeed enhance their businesses. I mean, their male colleagues were signing on and had success stories to show as proof.
Was it me? Maybe I’m not as good at my job as I thought! My bottom line proved otherwise. Male clients were enthusiastically ready to move forward, to shout out to the world how good they are at what they do and how much better they are then their competition.
Then why not women?
Without a doubt, American businesswomen have the skills, the smarts and the talent to shout from the highest hilltop how accomplished they are. Their competence has never been more obvious.
But this experience has given me a window into women’s belief in their own value. It’s a complicated issue — the research has shown that women continue to be less self-assured than men and this lack of confidence – this hesitancy in claiming your success — is impacting their ability to succeed. The New York Times states that “while men often overvalue their strengths, women too frequently undervalue theirs.”
I implore women to have the confidence to bet on themselves.
In our society, putting your money where your mouth is the strongest statement in belief in yourself. It’s like when I go shopping with my children. I’ll spend whatever I can on the latest fad for them but I constantly ponder and second-guess when thinking about spending money on myself. Am I worth it?
Of course, we are!