Seven Habits of Mentally Strong Female Founders

Despite it being 2017, research shows only 17% of startups are made up of female founders.

Looking further into this, Facebook’s #SheMeansBusiness research found that one in ten women wanted to start their own business but don’t because they lack the confidence, network and finance needed to do so.

Dr Travis Bradberry recently wrote a LinkedIn post identifying ‘Ten Habits of Mentally Strong People’. Within his post, Travis explains that developing mental strength is about ‘habitually doing things others aren’t willing to do’, something that is particularly necessary if you fall within the 17% bracket of female founders.

With this in mind, here are some mental habits that the world’s most powerful female founders follow to stay on top of their game.

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Back yourself. Even when others don’t.

Research shows lack of self-belief is holding women back in business with questions such as ‘What if I’m not good enough?’ or ‘What if it fails?’ often plaguing their mind.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has openly spoken out about battling with this issue, dubbing it ‘imposter syndrome’, a concept whereby high-achieving people internalise their accomplishments because they’re afraid of being exposed as a fake.  

As Sandberg explains, ‘confidence and leadership are like muscles… you learn to use them or you learn not to’.

The more you ‘work on’ your confidence and learn to back yourself, the more you will believe in yourself and the confidence will come.

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Make mistakes. And accept that you have, gracefully.

The most successful entrepreneurs tend not to be perfectionists, because if they were, their products would never go to market.

A study by The College of William and Mary found that the most successful entrepreneurs don’t care about failure and don’t care what people think of them. This may not come naturally to you but the more you accept that mistakes happen, the sooner you will reach your goals.

Remember, it’s better to fail than fail to try.

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Channel your emotions. You need the good, the bad and the ugly.

Negativity is draining, yet too much optimism can encourage impulsive behaviour.

As Venture Capitalist and UK tech leader, Eileen Burbidge says, ‘People with open, optimistic minds see things that closed mindsets don’t.

In the world of startups, in particular, optimism is key because you’re always selling and convincing people to join your ride.  If you don’t show you believe in your idea then they won’t either.

But don’t get too optimistic. With every high comes a low… train your brain to manage the ride.’

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Trust yourself. You will make the best decisions.

Often, when something isn’t quite right, you can sense it. Trusting your gut allows you to believe in your ability to make the right decision by what feels right.

Melody Wilding, a therapist and professor of human behaviour explains, “Trusting your gut is trusting the collection of all your subconscious experiences.”

When you’re making your next decision, try stepping away from the computer and pausing to think about what your instinct is telling you.

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Be creative in the face of a challenge. Don’t runaway as soon as it gets tough.

Running a business is often likened to a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs, twists and turns.

Cassandra Stavrou, founder of Propercorn, believes resilience is a women’s secret weapon. ‘“True resilience is about being strategic – not just ‘strong’ – in the way you overcome challenges. That means showing empathy and being creative in the face of adversity.”

Time your ‘bounceback’ time every time something doesn’t quite go your way. If you accept over time that mistakes happen, your resilience will grow and your bounceback rate will become shorter.

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Say no more often. You’ll see the returns on your bottom line.

“The ability to say no really reflects that you are in the driver’s seat of your own life,” says professor, Vanessa M. Patrick.

We live in a people pleasing culture, yet saying yes all the time not only gets you into unwanted situations, it can also be highly unproductive.

Practice the refusal strategy. Professor Patrick’s study in the Journal of Consumer Research found saying ‘I don’t’ as opposed to ‘I can’t’ allowed participants to get out of unwanted commitments.

Say yes to saying no. It’s an important way to build mental and business strength.

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Be kind. Even when others are not.

It takes time to climb to the top but a fall to the bottom can happen instantly. When building mental strength, don’t let people walk all over you – but don’t stoop to their levels of rudeness.

Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, one of the most successful UK entrepreneurs, says this is one of the most important attributes leaders should have.

“Be nice to people, err on the side of generosity, be a good person and work hard.”

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