by Susan L. Reid

Whenever I give an interview about my book, Discovering Your Inner Samurai: An Entrepreneurial Woman’s Journey to Business Success, I am frequently asked the question, “What are women doing wrong in business?”

The emphasis is usually on what isn’t working for women. For example, women can have difficulty making the big bucks, getting funding, and competing in the business world. Interviewers often overlook what women are doing right.

What I’ve discovered about women entrepreneurs who excel is that they do so in some ways that are similar to their male counterparts and in other ways that are distinctly different.

Both women and men entrepreneurs who excel:

  • Are self-disciplined.
  • Hold strong, clear visions about the direction of their companies.
  • Follow detailed plans of action to support their visions.
  • Know how to make tough-call.
  • Use mentors and coaches to keep them strategically aligned for success.
  • Exude confidence and determination.
  • See problems, failures, and setbacks as opportunities, openings, and clarifiers.

Women entrepreneurs do all that and then some. More often then men, women also:

  • Create lifestyle businesses that encompass the full spectrum of their lives.
  • Have a natural affinity for customer care and service.
  • Are three parts “strong woman” and one part “good girl.”
  • Have strong, values-led businesses.
  • Trust and follow their intuition.
  • Are “whole”-istic in their decision-making.
  • Measure success by their quality of interaction with people and how much they help others.

Top Five Mistakes Made by Women in Business

1. Letting them see you sweat.

Too many times I’ve seen women, when they aren’t feeling confident about themselves or their abilities, disclose their lack of confidence. They do this by peppering their clients and colleagues with lots of questions before they delve into a project, hedging when it comes to making a commitment, as well as breaking eye contact and fidgeting.

Showing lack of confidence, either by word or action, is a self-defeating behavior. Never let them see you sweat! Say yes. Then figure out how to deliver.

2. Displaying negative emotions.

Displaying anger, bitterness, or spite is never attractive. Turning into the victim or martyr when things don’t go your way by whining, complaining, or blaming is counterproductive. Don’t defend yourself, argue, or yell at your clients or colleagues. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t cry!

You can deal with every challenge in business without being negative. Instead, take action. Offer a solution.

3. Making excuses.

Women seem to think that, if they explain why they didn’t return a call, answer an email, show up on time, or meet a deadline, everyone will understand and it will be okay. Not so.

Excuses say that what you were doing was more important than what someone else wanted you to do. An explanation means you are asking permission to be excused for what you did not do.

Instead, be impeccable with your word. Do as you say.

4. Being bitchy.

Take your cue from Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer: Stay calm and assertive. You do not have to be tough or come across aggressively in business. Instead, stay calm, be assertive, and develop a cooperative model when dealing with others.

5. Making decisions from a “lack mentality.”

Too many women have a mindset of scarcity when it comes to their businesses. They believe they lack time, money is scarce, and there aren’t enough customers. They don’t understand that near-term lack infects long-term prosperity. Therefore, make decisions for your business based on the far-term vision of expansion and growth.

Both women and men can and do succeed as business owners. Many of the things that men have been doing right for years can easily be adopted and put into practice by women. However, as a woman entrepreneur, it is also important for you to do two additional things. First, cultivate the instinctive qualities and skills that are specifically characteristic of women in business.

Next, start to eliminate the five top mistakes women make in business. If you implement these key steps, you’re bound to excel as a woman entrepreneur.

Copyright ©2008 by Susan L. Reid, DMA

Dr. Susan L. Reid is a business coach and consultant for entrepreneurial women starting up businesses, and is the award-winning author of Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Journey to Business Success. If you are ready to take the first steps in owning your business, then get instant access to your own free PDF copy of “Doing What You Love: Multiple Streams of Passion” at

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