Donald Trump is never worried about being an asshole, so why do I worry so much about people thinking I'm a bitch?
The truth is that I know the answer to my own question. Women are still on an unequal playing field. In previous columns I discussed my own conflicts about being a "good girl." Good girls are sweet and polite, and they know when to keep their mouths shut.
I don't want to be a "good girl" anymore. I want to be a strong woman.
While women have been a large part of the workforce since the end of World War II, we still occupy only a small portion of the desks at the top. In fact, roughly 47 percent of U.S. jobs are staffed by women, but less than 4 percent of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs.
Why the disparity?
One theory I have comes from my experience with the maddening paradox you face as a woman in business. Men have an expectation that women will be nice and pleasant to deal with, but business often requires that you be assertive. Mix in the unfair double standard that assertive women are seen as bitchy while assertive men are seen as leaders, and you will begin to understand one of the tough realities about breaking into the boys' club. It is actually impossible to run a successful business without fiercely pushing toward your goals against all odds.
So, how do you build a business as a woman in the rough landscape? I'll tell you how I did it. Some of these tips are business basics that can help anyone. The rest is specifically targeted advice on the difficulties that women face.
Badass Business Tip #1: Do Something Different
The seed of any new venture comes from the desire to create something new. I started my company because I wasn't satisfied with the porn that was on the market. Whether you want to open a nail salon or invent tech gadgets, the important first step is putting your own spin on something. Also, it is a good idea to create a company based around something that you really like and enjoy. You will spend so much time building your business that you will want to be happy doing what you're doing.
Badass Business Tip #2: Be Realistic
There are only two ways to get rich quick: by winning the lottery or by inheriting a large sum of money from a dead family member. With that fact in mind, understand that it will take a very long time (in all likelihood, probably years) to make money from your new business. Be prepared for the long haul.
Badass Business Tip #3: Know Your Market
It doesn't really help to create a great, new product if no one is going to buy it. Research your market. Understand what your potential customers or clients want. If you feel like you're lost, try to find a mentor who can help you understand where to look for the answers. A good way to start research is to look at a company that does something similar to what you want to do, and then learn as much as possible about their customers.
Badass Business Tip #4: Push Hard
When you are the boss, you are the one who sets the goals, the schedules, and everything else about your company. For instance, I set Juicy Pink Box working hours from noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Starting the work day at noon means that I don't feel guilty about not being a morning person. Does it mean I sit around in bed all day and do nothing? No, I work hard every day (even if some days I do send emails from bed at 2 a.m.).
Badass Business Tip #5: Do Not Give Up
Without a doubt, you will face many crushing disappointments. I can't tell you how many times I have hit a wall or been told no or had to face unpleasant experiences. There are many days that I crawled into a ball and hysterically sobbed my face off because I thought I would never make it! Lucky for me, I have an amazing wife who lifts my head off the pillow and says, "You'll be fine, bunny." If you don't have an amazing wife like mine, it's OK; you can be the one to help lift yourself up.
Cheesy as it is, something else that really helps me is going online and googling quotes about success and failure. To read about the struggles of the great leaders and business people who came before me helps to ease my heavy heart.
Even if the worst thing happens and your business fails, you can always reinvent and start over. Pop stars do it all the time.
Badass Business Tip #6: Silence the Little Girl
Inside of me lives Little Jincey, who is scared, insecure, and fearful of disappointing others. Little Jincey is always worried that people will make fun of her. She's shy and full of doubt. At first, I thought that I was Little Jincey. I couldn't separate the adult part of myself from the child part of myself. Over the years, I have learned that Little Jincey is not the same as Adult Jincey, and also, Little Jincey is not helpful in business. I have to say to her, "Listen, sweetie, go to sleep. I've got everything under control."
I'm not going to lie: walking into a room full of grown men to pitch an idea can be intimidating. However, what is not helpful is to fall into the role of the good little girl and try to be sweet and to please everyone. What works better is to come prepared, meet people eye-to-eye, and communicate in a reasonable, level-headed, and professional manner.
Badass Business Tip #7: Be a Bitch
I love Madonna. She always speaks her mind and goes after what she wants in a terrifically bold and brazen manner. People call her a bitch. I call her a brilliant businesswoman. If Madonna is a bitch, then I aspire to be a bitch, as well. I like bitches.
However, you will see that when you behave as a confident, badass bitch, people will often find you annoying and will express their disapproval in a very obvious manner. The push-back that you will receive for standing your ground might make you angry or hurt your feelings, but don't let it stop you from continuing to strive for your goals. Remember, you are the boss. You are the adult. No one is going to take your hand and lead the way for you. My motto is, "Get on the train or get the fuck off the tracks. Either way, this baby's moving on!"
Badass Business Tip #8: Help Out Your Sisters
With so few women at the top, I think we should help each other out. I like to align myself with other strong women and be willing to provide support. Recently I had a really bad day where something blew up in my face. I was so upset that I left the office around 3 p.m. and had a good long cry in the bathtub at home. I felt pretty low, but a friend and fellow businesswoman called and gave me a pep talk. She said, "Don't worry about it, Jincey. It's not the first or the last time you will face a struggle. I've been through what you are going through, and it sucks. But you know that I think you're fabulous, and you are fabulous, so screw 'em!" Her phone call meant the world to me. Be that kind of woman to other women.
Badass Business Tip #9: Celebrate Your Own Success
I am guilty of focusing more on the struggles than the triumphs. Don't make my mistake. Celebrate every small victory. Be proud of yourself. You don't have to buy yourself presents or anything like that. Just telling someone close to you that you are proud of yourself will help to foster the positive affirmation and good energy that will keep you going. Dispose of the guilty feeling that you're being boastful. Truly, celebrating yourself and helping others to recognize the good that they do makes a happier and more satisfying life for all of us.
Best of luck, bitches!
(And if you're a woman in business and you need a pat on the back, you can always tweet me @juicyjincey.)
My next piece is an emotional exploration of my history with abusive relationships and domestic violence. It's going to be a hard piece to write.
Follow Jincey Lumpkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/juicyjincey