By Michelle de Klerk
As a woman in business, I am always looking to invest in my personal development – but with the plethora of online coaches, business bibles and success hacks out there, it’s often hard to know whose advice you should follow. I also know how lonely the journey can be from identifying what you want at work to actually getting it.
So what is the key to achieving your goal? My top piece of advice is to surround yourself with people who will support your ambitions and help you get there – both at work and at home.
I am a true believer in the value of support systems and developing a trusted community of people, who you can turn to for advice, guidance and inspiration. When I’m faced with a problem or want feedback on an idea, I go to my network and simply ask someone.
“It’s easy to forget the truth: no one has it together all of the time. We are quite cruel to one another in that way.”
And this applies for women at all stages of their career – when I was working my way up in the corporate world, my most valuable resource was our internal women’s network. Not only did it give me an opportunity to meet women in other departments and at levels I would not normally have access to, it provided me with the profiling I needed to make my next career move. The same has applied on my entrepreneurial journey. Being part of an engaged, supportive network has been invaluable.
In an age where everyone appears to transition seamlessly from home to work, as well as tirelessly promoting their lives and businesses on social media, it’s easy to forget the truth: no one has it together all of the time. We are quite cruel to one another in that way. But we all need help and in order to succeed, and we need to get better at asking for it – there is great power and enlightenment that comes from being vulnerable.
In putting together this piece, I spoke to some of the women I regularly turn to for advice myself and asked for their tips on how to get what you want.
1. Work out what you want
Before you can go after it, you need to have a clear vision of what it is you want. Bernadine Tay, Founder and Tea Designer at Quinteassential, believes that being honest and clear about what it is you actually want, is the very first step to achieving it. She says: “How can you plan the journey and make key decisions if you don’t know where you are going?” Once you know what you want, you can create a plan and strategy around how to achieve it.
Meera Santoro, Co-Founder of luxury shopping business Santoro, emphasises the importance of plotting your route to success: “Plan realistically and calculate the cost of everything you do. Can you afford to fail?”
In addition, you need to be adaptable enough to look for opportunities in situations where you think you may have fallen short or even failed. Just about everything happens for a reason and if you don’t get the big deal or promotion, there is another opportunity lurking for you – you just need to have your head up and your eyes open in order to seize it.
2. Know your stuff
Whether it’s negotiating your next pay rise or pitching for investment for your start-up, make sure you have done your research and can back up what you are asking for with hard facts. You don’t need to be an expert, but you need to have done your homework in order to be taken seriously.
3. Ask for help
Emmy Scarterfield, Founder of shoe brand Emmy London believes “we shouldn’t be afraid to aim high and ask people to help us get there.”
Meera Santoro agrees: “Speak to as many successful women as you can. Listen to and learn from them. Never stop that. We can all learn from our own experiences as well as others. Many women underestimate their ability and skills. But it’s more a lack of confidence and fear of failure than lack of skill.” While Vanessa Jacobs, Founder of shoe and handbag service The Restory says it’s important to out yourself out there: “Create extreme ownership by daring to tell everyone you know your crazy idea.”
4. Stick to your values
Be true to yourself and never apologise for your point of view – standing by your values is a corner stone of growth and resilience. Polly McMaster, Founder of The Fold, says what you want in business is ultimately driven by this: “For me it means to be truly authentic and passionate about my work, team, and vision. Then what you ‘want’ naturally coincides with the success and culture of the business.”
In being authentic, you should also avoid feeling obligated to grab every opportunity that comes your way. Be selective about who you work with and never promise to deliver something unless you are sure you can. There is great power in walking away from a situation that comprises your values.
5. Be tenacious
Whether it’s trying for that promotion, putting yourself forward to run a project or getting your business idea off the ground, if you don’t go for it, someone else will. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, so be bold. Whitney Bromberg Hawkins, Co-Founder of luxury flower service Flowerbx says in order to get what you want, you have “to be unfettered and relentless in the pursuit of your goal.” She adds: “It is important to immediately expel any negativity or self-doubt. When things aren’t going to plan, keep your eye on the prize and ‘fake it ‘till you make it’.”
Fashion designer and entrepreneur Kelly Simpkin says: “As cliched, as it sounds, I believe that anything is possible. If you really want something, with hard work and determination you can get there.” She also maintains that its never too late to change, “having different careers is not failing at one but being strong and brave enough to enter another.”
Meera agrees: “If you believe in it, do it. There will always be someone who will try to talk you out of it.”
7. Celebrate your wins
Emmy says you need to stop and reflect on your successes in order to keep moving toward your goal: “Take the time to look back and see how far you’ve come, we spend so much time looking forward that it’s easy to forget. Set realistic goals and celebrate achievements, it’s so easy to move onto the next challenge without digesting the last.”
This is also where a support network is key – when you reach milestones and successes, they will celebrate with you and give you the encouragement to reach even higher.
8. Learn to love criticism
Grace Fodor, beauty expert and founder of cult British makeup brand Studio10 says part of getting what you want is asking for feedback and acid testing your progress: “Learn to love criticism and be prepared to be responsive. That doesn’t mean shifting directions every time someone says something negative… but understanding what your customer (or boss) as a whole thinks you do well and what they think you need to improve on and respond to that.”
9. Trust your gut
Emmy says one of most important components to getting what you want is to listen to your instincts, “if you have come far enough to be at the stage of running your own successful business (or holding a senior position), there’s a good chance you have good judgment – don’t be afraid to use it despite the implications. In my experience it never fails.”
10. Set up a good team
Meera says that part of asking for help is and delegating is to surround yourself with a good team: “Don’t be afraid to employ people who are better than you in the areas you personally feel you aren’t good at. Bernadine agrees: “Surround yourself with people who have more knowledge than you and who can guide you to where ever you need to go.”
Original article for Telegraph Women, published 10th March 2017: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/work/get-want-work-secrets-successful-women/