In my business, I am fortunate to work with hundreds of business owners. A numerous amount of them are in their 40s and already have families to care for. In order for them to pursue their dreams, many have departed from their previous, and many others are business owners who are looking to target new and high-level clients. To really capture their visions and be able to design a website that they love and that their clients can relate to (in other words a successful online business), it is important that I really take the time to listen to their goals and agendas for their website.
In our strategy call, I will ask questions like, “tell me about your struggles and what makes you the best in the market”, and when applicable I will ask, “why do you think your competitors are attracting your market and you aren’t?”
Over the years, I’ve gathered a lot of information that doesn’t just give me insight to my clients’ deepest thoughts and aspirations, but it also gives me insight as to how women and men think differently from each other and why it is so hard for women to position themselves as leaders and experts in their field.
In this article, I will be covering three of the biggest points that hold women back from claiming their spotlight, online and offline.
Disclaimer: I am not an anthropologist or a scientist. This article is a result of listening and working with women and men for over ten years.
The first and most obvious reason is that women rarely put themselves first.
A majority of women I work with are mothers and spend most of their time helping their family instead of pursuing their own goals. Women tend to think about everything and everyone before they give themselves permission to love and invest in themselves.
We tend to think about our kids, our partners, our colleagues and business partners, and even our pets before ourselves, leaving no additional space for us. Just the other day, I made dinner for my family and I caught myself serving my kids and husband first and when there was almost nothing left in the pot for me, I just shrugged it off and said to myself, “Oh well. I will just eat less.”
Can you relate? We have this mental block on us that prevents us from making some room for our own needs and it deeply affects our personal and business life.
When it comes to our businesses and websites, we don’t often highlight ourselves as the expert in our field, like in our personal lives. We feel uncomfortable in the spotlight and we try to share it with everyone else, or we brush it off and we just make it about the services and not about us as the expert.
I’ve heard this too many times: “What about my team? Are we going to highlight them as well?”
And this line: “I’m not sure I’m ready for this. Maybe we should talk about the practice in general instead of my expertise.”
I hear this coming from strong, powerful, and knowledgeable women.
The problem with making websites and businesses about our services and not ourselves is that we forget that the market is saturated and people will choose us and engage with us for the sole reason that they merely want to connect with who we are. They want to feel that we understand them. They want to feel that there’s a human being that is an expert and that can actually help them and that maybe even experienced the same issue as they are and came out stronger. They want to interact with you and look up to you. They want to be inspired and they want to follow a leader, not services.
The second reason is that women are less confident.
From a young age, we were told that we should be composed and keep to ourselves. We are not supposed to show that we are strong, assertive, or different individuals. The leadership position belongs to the men who are outgoing and powerful.
My attention is not to raise gender issues. However, this notion that a woman shouldn’t dare to be strong and fearless left us so insecure. And when it comes to our online presences, I often see my female clients struggle with the ideas of showcasing themselves as leaders and experts. Instead of celebrating their achievements, they try to hide or put a spin on it so their work doesn’t sound powerful. As a result, the site’s overall design and message lacks inspiration. There is no confidence, motivation, or encouragement, and there’s definitely no sense of leadership.
Staying within our comfort zone will keep us safe but it will also keep us alone.
If you believe that you were meant to touch millions of people around the world, then your website is the perfect stage to show them your true colors and invite them in.
The third and last reason is the way women deal with imperfection and shame.
For some reason, as a human being and a business owner, we have the notion that the only way to attract new clients and to be perceived as an expert is to be perfect. There is no place for vulnerability and shame in our online and offline life anymore. We all need to fit in this box where we wear size 4 clothes and look good in them, are successful, and have kids that are getting straight A’s in school and if that’s not the case, we cannot lead others.
In her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown talks about how women even take this one step further and define shame as having to do it all, perfectly, and never complain or let others see her struggles. It’s an ongoing conflict between who she is and who she is supposed to be.
This reveals itself mostly in the website’s copy, where the story is often about how successful, powerful, and knowledgeable she is, but there’s rarely ever any mention about the real account behind the success, about the struggles, the lack of sleep, fighting self-esteem issues, feeling insecure, and everything else that shaped their journey and that made them who they are.
Yes, the rainbows-and-unicorns story will help lay the ground for the expertise and positioning, but the whole-hearted, vulnerable truth will define who you are, get people to listen, relate, and follow.
For most people, positioning themselves as leaders takes effort, commitment and willingness to put ourselves first. As a woman, we also need to learn how to embrace and believe in ourselves. It is a mindset skill that doesn’t come naturally to most of us. By mastering it, and by making some space for our own uniqueness, we will be able to feel strong, capable and lead without feeling that we sacrificed something along the way.
Source: Ellevate Network