Is being nice “like a girl” really shrewd business? The book How to Run Your Business Like a Girl: Successful Strategies from Entrepreneurial Women Who Made It Happen by Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin explores the practices, strategies and philosophies of women business owners and how being “nice like a girl” helped their businesses:
Let your employees bring their kids to work
Tara Mediate of KooKoo Bear Kids provides a space for her employees’ kids to be at the office, complete with video games, art supplies and sleeping bags. She employs a lot of mothers, and mothers often have to deal with sick kids or teacher workdays. Sounds like she’s just an understanding boss, but by offering this option, her employees show up for work on days they might otherwise have to call in absent.
Provide a quiet place for employees to relax – or nap
Patrice Tanaka of PT& Co built a meditation room in her Manhattan offices. Employees are encouraged to use the room for a quiet break, or even to take a snooze. Sounds like she’s condoning slacker tendencies, but her business depends on her employees’ ability to come up with creative ideas at a fairly relentless pace – so the time and place to slow the mind can actually result in more productivity.
At networking events, focus on listening to everyone else talk
Chellie Campbell of Financial Stress Reduction makes a point of saying very little about her own business at the many networking functions she attends. Instead, she encourages the people she meets to tell her all about themselves and their businesses. Looks like her mother raised her to be polite at parties, but really she’s developing relationships she can continue with follow-up calls. Then she’ll ask them even more questions about themselves until she knows enough to drive the sale home.
Offer prime benefits, even during your lean startup days
Patrice Tanaka of PT&Co has always provided her employees with full benefits beginning their first day on the job, as well as flex time, paid personal days and three months paid maternity leave. Sounds like she’s putting an unnecessary burden on company finances, but in a business that lives and dies on recruiting and keeping top talent, these benefits have helped her build and retain a star-quality team and be named one of the top 15 family friendly workplaces in America by Working Mother magazine.
Treat your customers like your friends
Tara Mediate of KooKoo Bear Kids encourages her customer service people to treat every customer like a good friend, even when the customer is downright rude. In a business of marketing to new mothers, she knows her customers may be operating on too little sleep and too many hormones. With the price of producing glossy catalogs and buying mailing lists, she also knows how much it costs to get that customer to pick up the phone – and she doesn’t want to blow the sale.
Keep yourself under committed
Chellie Campbell of Financial Stress Reduction makes a point of not taking on too much. She keeps her calendar so free that she can even take an afternoon nap, if she wants. Sounds like a nice life, but it’s her way of keeping herself fresh enough to be operating at her best for her workshops, speaking engagements, and sales calls.
Recommended Books on Women Business Owners:
- Nine Lives: Stories of Women Business Owners Landing on Their Feet
- The Women’s Small Business Start-Up Kit: A Step-by-Step Legal Guide
- 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women, The: A Portable Life Coach for Creative Women
- Women Entrepreneurs Only: 12 Women Entrepreneurs Tell the Stories of Their Success
Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin is the author of the book How to Run Your Business Like a Girl: Successful Strategies from Entrepreneurial Women Who Made It Happen