Women in Business


Perhaps in all of history, today is the absolute best time to be a woman. Today, women are empowered. We are innovating and inspiring. We are achieving more than ever before.

I can think of so many strong female entrepreneurs – famous and otherwise – who are role models for girls today. When it comes to women and business, we permeate every part of the business world, from government to healthcare to retail.

There’s J.K. Rowling, founder of the Harry Potter empire, who was a struggling single mother when she wrote her first book; or Oprah Winfrey, who was born into poverty and overcame years of abuse to become a multi-billionaire media mogul. It’s stories like these that inspire me to work hard at my business every day.

We are all capable of achieving our dreams, whether that’s success and celebrity status on a large scale or simply meeting our monthly business goals. Women like you and me are rising in business every day – but let’s face it, we can always do a little bit more.

So, what are the characteristics of successful businesswomen?

To answer this question, I’m borrowing from Gail McGovern, who laid out her five traits for success in a keynote address at the 2002 Dynamic Women in Business conference. At the time, she was president of Fidelity Personal Investments (she is now president and CEO of the American Red Cross).

As quoted in this Harvard Business School article, McGovern’s secrets to success are:

  • Balance between work and personal life
  • Attract, attain, and motivate the best people
  • Love and embrace change
  • Be resilient
  • Make every decision based on whether or not it’s good for business.

While each of these traits is undoubtedly important, and many of them overlap, the one that speaks to me the most is loving and embracing change. And that’s because I think many people are afraid of change. I’ve found that in business, this attitude will only hold you back.

Look at businesses that have failed to embrace change, or have embraced change too late. Blockbuster immediately comes to mind. The video rental chain – not a woman-led business, by the way – was virtually phased out when video-on-demand services like Netflix came on the scene. By the time Blockbuster released its own streaming service, its competitors had already taken over the market.

The moral of this story is to not only embrace change, but also invite it! Always look for opportunities to make those strategic choices that could ensure the future success of your business. Think about how your industry or niche is changing and stay on top of the trends. Better yet, be a trendsetter!

As women in business – or anyone in business, for that matter – we should never take our success for granted. Just because we’re successful today doesn’t mean we’ll be successful tomorrow. We must innovate to stay ahead – even if that means changing our business model entirely.

What are your thoughts on women and business? What traits or strategies have helped you find success?

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