When it comes to careers, women are rarely given the tools for success. The work world as a whole tends to value skills women are discouraged from developing at a young age. The ability to know one’s worth, the assertiveness to ask for better, the confidence to take a risk — these are things society pushes girls away from, then wonders why women are at a disadvantage.

To take control of your career, you must first develop the confidence to fight for what you deserve. The Parma Area Chamber of Commerce wants to help more women unlock their full career potentials. Here’s a look at a few of the best ways to discover — and utilize — your true worth in the workplace.

Start Freelancing

One amazing way to build confidence in your own skills is to pick up some freelance work. Freelancing requires many skills women tend to have, such as self-discipline, but also nurtures some of those harder skills to develop, like self-advocacy. Freelancers set their own rates and hours. They fight for their worth in negotiations; it’s expected and anticipated by the businesses hiring them. Use these opportunities to practice the skills you’ll need your whole career-long.

One way to get started with freelancing is to pitch clients directly. This is an excellent way to start developing a sense of your most marketable traits, but it’s also time-consuming. Freelance work boards can do some of the legwork for you. Companies often turn to these kinds of sites when they’re looking for experts in mobile web design, copywriting, marketing, and more. Create a profile that shows off your best talents, and work might just come to you.

Go for a Promotion 

If you like where you work and want to make your way up the corporate ladder, make moves to get promoted. Don’t fret if there aren’t current openings for you; indeed, that can be a great time to lay the foundation. Talk to your supervisor and let them know you’re interested in advancement. Ask what sort of development you’d need to be able to get a promotion.

Once you have the roadmap, do the work and advocate for yourself when the time comes. Keep track of your successes, and remember to note quantitative achievements wherever possible. When the chance to advance arrives, state your case backed with evidence that you’re a good fit for the role. If they won’t recognize what you’re bringing to the table, remember: Another company will find value in you.

Build Your Own Business

Just shy of one-fifth of US businesses are owned by women. Considering women make up half the population, it’s clearly not a representative distribution. However, many things hold women back from starting a business. For example, women tend to be more conservative in their business planning, a trait which, counterintuitively, makes them seem like a less wise choice for investors.

“Women are more conservative and don’t overstate projections,” Gloria Kolb, Elidah CEO and founder, told Business News Daily, “When we pitch investors, we are often pitching realistic numbers. But men so often overstate and exaggerate that investors often discount the numbers off the bat.” She suggests that women recognize this dynamic from the start, and adjust their pitches accordingly when they seek funding.

Another major issue that keeps women from starting a business, and, indeed, from furthering their careers in general: The fear of failure. This is a tricky fear to cope with because you can’t remove the possibility of failure from the equation.

Any attempt to succeed – any risk you take – might not work out. However, sitting with that reality and preparing for it as best we can will empower us more than we might imagine. We all have to learn how to take the leap and brace for a hard landing. Otherwise, we’ll never get to fly.


Looking for support for your new business? Join the Parma Area Chamber of Commerce.


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