More than ever before, womxn have been running their own businesses which of course is great news, but the harsh truth is that many of us still struggle with self-promotion, not only in our workplace but also when it comes to the promotion of our paid products and services as business owners.
The result is less income coming into our business compared to our male competitors, which leads to more stress and overwhelm, and less fulfillment and freedom.
After mentoring over 200 womxn entrepreneurs, I’ve come to the realization that the root of this struggle lies in patriarchy.
Patriarchy is manifested in womxn’s lives in ways that most of us don’t even realize because of the conditioning we’ve all received as we’ve been raised in patriarchal societies. That’s why it can be hard to tackle it – because we often believe the way we show up in certain situations is a reflection of our personality, our skills, or just how things are supposed to be, as opposed to a problematic upbringing.
According to studies, womxn are as competent in business as men are. They lack nothing and have everything they need to succeed. So, why do we still struggle with standing tall behind our services and products, and with really owning our unique gifts and talents?
Here are the 5 most common reasons I’ve identified through mentoring female entrepreneurs over the last 3 years:
1. Imposter Syndrome
Studies have shown that womxn suffer from imposter syndrome significantly more than men do. Despite the fact that womxn claim more and more space in the business and public space through their work and creations, they still feel like outsiders even when they perform well at what they do.
As a result, they often feel they don’t belong or that they will soon be exposed as a ‘fraud’. In the business world, womxn still feel unworthy of success and as a result, they avoid promoting themselves and their tendency to be perfectionists has them think that their services and products are not worthy of attention or even payment.
2. An unhealthy relationship with money
Womxn have been conditioned to believe that their role in society is fulfilled through serving and helping others, that’s why they are very good at helping others for free. But when it comes to receiving any kind of support, in the form of interest in their own business from potential customers and financial abundance, many womxn limits their capacity to receive, by saying things like “I don’t care about money. I only want to help people.”
If we believe that it’s noble to say that we don’t care about money, what we basically say is that we don’t care to be supported, as money is another form of support for all human beings. This belief often prevents many purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to do good in the world from promoting themselves and getting paid, which also restricts their ability to positively touch more people’s lives.
3. The ‘whore’ wound
In the past, womxn who openly expressed their true desires, including their sexual desires, were often shamed as ‘whores’. This is a wound most, if not all, womxn carry and it limits our inner power, often keeping us unconsciously unable to claim our true desires in life & business.
When it comes to running a business, wanting to make good money by promoting and selling quality products and services is a very healthy desire. However, womxn who have the confidence to promote themselves and their creations with conviction trigger society because it’s not an image we’re used to. So, we find any excuse to avoid promoting or selling our stuff because we want to avoid, at all costs, being judged or shamed by others.
4. The ‘nice girl’ syndrome
Plenty of experts have pointed out throughout the years that the qualities we instill in little girls and we praise them for, such as being kind to everyone, smiling, being agreeable and content, block them from achieving professional success when they turn into adult womxn. When we’ve been made to believe that our role is to keep others happy, we don’t allow ourselves to shine so that we don’t trigger those around us.
We try to avoid making others uncomfortable but at the expense of dimming our own light. We would hate someone thinking of us as ‘competitive’ if they saw us promoting ourselves and instead, we decide to make ourselves small just to please others. Confident womxn often rub many of us the wrong way, not because there’s anything wrong with them (quite the opposite), but because their confidence exposes our own patriarchal beliefs and exposes our own shadows.
5. More responsibility at home
According to UN Women, women are responsible for 75 percent of all unpaid care and domestic work. When womxn are mostly responsible for raising their children and looking after the house, they often sabotage their own business aspirations to balance out the inequality they come up against at home.
This isn’t only unpaid labor that womxn are subject to, but it also means less time for them to look after their needs and go after their own dreams. When under pressure and stressed out to find time for everyone they love, womxn often sabotage their business goals, and one way this is manifested is through less self-promotion and, of course, less profit in their own business.
My experience has shown me that what womxn often need in order to reach 6-figures in their business or selling out their products and services isn’t a different business strategy or marketing tactic, but healing their own patriarchal wounds and a different mindset that allows them to see that having access to wealth and all good things is their birthright.
So, next time you promote your business, make sure you don’t downplay what you can deliver (given your services and products are of high quality of course).
The No. 1 fan of your business should always be you.