In many ways, the world of business (and buying businesses) is still very much a man’s world. That’s why we asked Sarah Barker of SSB Consulting to share her experience with our dear readers.
Meeting her was one of those really good things that most people chalk up to a good coincidence but which we here at Live A Blissful Life prefer to call “great timing“.
As someone who has worked in male-dominated professions for years, she’s in a unique position to offer not just experience but also perspective as well as advice.
We’re absolutely ecstatic that she’s come back to us with a woman’s guide to buying a business, which contains a lot of actionable tips that will teach you how to avoid sexism, overthinking and lack of confidence – common pitfalls that tend to trap unsuspecting businesswomen.
We hope you like it.
For a large majority of my past, I have worked in male-dominated professions.
In these fields, I have witnessed rampant sexism, and female buyers or potential entrepreneurs get bulldozed or simply become their own worst enemy.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a hate piece on the opposite sexes. They are just observations I have made throughout my career.
These are some tidbits on what I have experienced and my suggestions on how to avoid sexism, overthinking, and lack of confidence when buying a business.
Dealing with sexism when buying a business
The statement, “we teach people how to treat us” is very relevant to women buying a business.
Stand up for yourself and ask questions to clarify if you are being talked down to or misunderstanding their intent. When I have someone make a statement to me that deeply offends me, I always take the following two steps to work through it:
Step 1 – Reflect.
I take a full day and night to reflect on the way it made me feel. In the morning if it is still bothering me, I move to step 2. I need this time because I don’t want to react when I’m highly emotional.
Step 2 – Take action.
I meet with the person in private and ask, “when you said ABC, it made me feel like ABC, was that the intention”? This allows the offender to reflect and say how they felt and give them an opportunity to respond differently. Sometimes you will find out it wasn’t what they intended at all and there was a miscommunication.
Don’t let someone talk over you.
I can’t stress this enough.
If you have been around Type A men then it’s likely you’ve experienced this, if you’re a Type A personality, you’ve likely done this.
There are plenty of articles out there talking about this phenomenon and how women are regularly disregarded in meetings like this.
I’m not here to prove that, just offer tips.
Either assert yourself directly in the meeting or have a private conversation with the offender, see Don’t Settle Tip above.
What about your spouse?
In my relationship, I do 90% of the large purchases and most of the negotiating (I consider it a sport).
I regularly go by myself to buy a car. When a salesperson asks me about my spouse I say, “If you are worried that you don’t have the decision-maker, that’s not the case, so we can proceed”.
Ladies, this isn’t to say your spouse isn’t a major player in buying a business if it’s a family decision than say so.
If you are the sole decision-maker and you know it, don’t pull the spouse card in the end as an excuse to say, “I’m not interested”.
Own your power and say you’re not interested.
Would you say that to Frank?
This is a trick I use often when talking to Type A males that are being sexist to call out their behavior.
I ask them to think of the most dominant male they know. “Now imagine you saying the offensive thing you said to me, now say it to that person in your mind.”
If you, as a woman, couldn’t imagine them saying what they said to a male colleague, you likely are dealing with sexism.
If they don’t “get it” with that point, refer to the Don’t Settle Tip for solutions.
If possible, work with someone else.
If you don’t like the way you’re being treated by a business broker, lender, seller or whatever, ask yourself can you work with someone else?
This isn’t about their feelings.
This is about you getting the information you need. If you don’t want to do that, then read through some tips on getting your needs met:
✦ Know yourself and what you want.
✦ Be flexible, you don’t know what you don’t know.
✦ Don’t be a people pleaser.
✦ Ask yourself, are you being overly sensitive?
✦ Are you being clear?
✦ Be open and make sure you are listening to others advice.
✦ Make sure to ask follow-up questions.
Still not working? Then It’s time to think about working with someone else.
Self Esteem and other things that hold women back
Stop telling yourself you’re going to fail.
This has routinely been one of the starkest contrasts between men and women.
Men feel the same way “what if I fail” but women agonize over it way more.
I see women loop on this and ultimately talk themselves out of business opportunities, often fretting over things that aren’t relevant in the overall success of a business.
If you are one of these women, replace that thought, out loud if necessary.
What would happen if you succeeded? Or what is success to you?
Break it up into baby goals.
Is it achievable? It likely is.
You’re not perfect, so stop trying to be!
It’s not a surprise that women will seek perfection in all that they do instead of seeing failure as an opportunity to grow.
We are conditioned that way, in many business situations at least.
Women have fewer opportunities for leadership positions, so they will work harder than many to achieve promotions. This, in return, makes failure a frightening concept.
We are also less likely to delegate responsibility to others, thinking that it won’t fit into our idea of perfectionism.
Now, I can say stop doing that shiz, but it’s deeper than that.
It can really be a task in mindfulness, reminding yourself failure is part of growth, and growth is good.
Work on your confidence.
Google is filled with countless articles on how to turn around your confidence.
In the end, it just boils down to this: many of us are less confident than men.
If you’re one of the women that fall into this category, afraid to put your name in the hat for a promotion or buying that business, ask yourself what would happen if you did?.
And then ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t.
I can’t tell you how many times I have applied for that job I didn’t have business applying to or bought a business. That scared me to death.
Each time I repeated the mantra, “whatever happens, I’ll figure it out.”
And, I always do and so will you.
Know what you want.
Define it. Write it down. And go for it.
Simple as that.
If you need a template Google “SMART goals.”
Ask for what you want.
If you don’t understand something, if you are unhappy, “if, if, if” …
Stop wallowing and ask for what you want!
Don’t assume anyone can read your mind.
If you find yourself to be a people pleaser, stop doing things like apologizing for something you don’t have to be sorry about and learn to say no without explaining why (or apologizing for it).
Enough with the overthinking.
Do you find yourself overthinking every step?
This is another factor that can fall under self-esteem issues.
This is often a trait of a woman that wasn’t allowed to fail in adolescence, leading to over-analyzing situations to death.
What is really going on, though, is a lack of confidence in making a decision.
There is a reason it’s called analysis paralysis. Do your research (I’m not saying just jump into anything without doing the legwork) especially when it comes to buying a business but set a timeline for a decision.
In the case of buying a franchise, go through the suggested process, don’t assume things.
But in the end, don’t be afraid to take calculated risks!
In the end, if you think you can do it, you absolutely can!
We absolutely believe that it can be scary, especially for women, to branch out and take risks.
Failure is a tough pill to swallow at the best of times but add in the possibility of losing money and the overwhelm can be paralysing.
So, take these tips to heart.
Practice failing at little things. Get used to the feeling.
Eventually, you’ll get to the point where the possibility of success will overcome the fear of failure.
Pull a Nike and just do it.
And if you’re looking to take the leap and are exploring buying a franchise business, get in touch with Sarah as soon as you can and schedule your free strategy session.