International Women’s Day: Business Advice for Women, by Women

07 March 2016 -


Insurance firm dot2dot spoke to a number of leading business women to get their advice on how to succeed in the modern workplace

Jermaine Haughton

Celebrated from Sydney to Tehran, Johannesburg to Los Angeles, International Women's Day (IWD) remembers the struggles women face and honours the accomplishments they have made, and continue to make.

While in the UK and other western countries, many women don’t face some of the horrors faced by those in less privileged nations, British women still face significant inequalities - particularly in the workplace.

Challenges still remain over incidences of harassment, finding the balance of family life and work life, and the lack of women managing the UK’s top companies. In fact, less than one in 10 executive directors at Britain’s top companies are female, research shows.

Despite a major increase in female representation in Britain’s boardrooms over the past few years, with more than 30% of non-executive directorships at FTSE 100 companies now held by women, the proportion of women in executive control over firms still has room for progress.

Research from CMI found that women are paid an average of 22% less than male counterparts, or £8,524, while that gap widens to £14,943 for senior or director-level staff.

Here, dot2dot, a specialist nursery and childcare insurance provider, has outlined four key tips for women to succeed in business after speaking to female entrepreneurs who have been there, seen it and done it all.

1) Your time is precious, so prioritise ruthlessly

dot2dot found that the ability to prioritise tasks and remain organised was the main piece of advice that was offered by businesswomen. More specifically, being able to plan in advance and stick to a schedule is a skill that must be practiced and perfected by workers.

Claire Moran, managing director of The Forge Public Relations, said that timekeeping was her biggest key to success

“Prioritise ruthlessly,” she said. “Have a [list of] ‘must do’ and ‘nice to do’ things each day, but don’t feel like a failure if you don’t get through it all. Always plan the following day - work and other things you need to do - the evening before. Try not to get distracted, and delegate.”

Hilary Frohlich, owner and CEO of Neat PR, said planning ahead is the best way to stay ahead: “Stay organised and be realistic, think ahead and think about what is coming up. If you have time earlier in the month use it wisely to help free up time later on.”

2) How to keep the balance

The work-life balance has become a constant and prevailing issue for both employers and staff in recent years, as many younger workers demand fulfilment in both areas.

Whether women are running their own business or not, the interviews with business chiefs found that the ‘life’ side of the scale is something that needs just as much attention as the ‘work’ side, particularly when it comes to family and finding time to destress from a hard day of work.

Owner of School Speakers, Claire Young, said that balancing your work commitments and home commitments requires dedication: “Be brutally honest with yourself about what is important to you and prioritise your time accordingly - and stick to it!”

Find out how managers are suffering in an ‘always on’ work culture

Farida Gibbs, founder and CEO of Gibbs S3, said that the life side is incredibly important, and should not be underestimated.

“There are only so many hours in the day,” she said. “Although work takes up most of our time, it is vital that people maintain a healthy work-life balance. This will ensure individuals are motivated and achieve more fulfilment from their careers.

“The balance goes hand-in-hand, as overworking can result in your becoming burnt out, preventing you from being able to achieve your full potential. Business leaders should appreciate this and understand that longer hours don’t necessarily increase productivity.”

3) Surround yourself with like-minded people

Other people make for incredible inspiration, particularly in business.

You can pick up fantastic habits from those around you, and other entrepreneurs can serve as great sounding boards for your ideas. Jackie Hyde, director of Stanmore Insurance Brokers and dot2dot, believes that educating yourself from those who have achieved before you is the best way to develop.

“Positive role models, whether male or female, are vital,” she said. “I am also an advocate of reading good quality books about business and in particular positive ways to believe in your ability to succeed or overcome adversity. There are lots of these books available and they can give you great tips or sometimes just reinforce that you are doing a good job.”

Maxine Mackintosh, managing director of HealthTech Women, believes that having people around you who have a similar mindset and goals to yourself can have a real impact.

“Surround yourself with positive, ambitious and supportive people,” she said. “As you strike out on your own and start to build your own career, meet those magnetic and engaging people and bask in their aura.

“Their energy, enthusiasm and confidence is usually contagious. Once you come across enough of these people, they will each have a small effect on your trajectory, and you will feel sufficiently inspired to carve out your own path.”

4) Learn from your failures

Failures are part of life. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. If you don’t learn, you’ll never change.

So many people are kept down when they trip up and fall, no matter what industry they work in, but the real failure comes when you give up. Therefore, the final piece of advice from the women dot2dot spoke to was to never give up on your goals.

Young said: “The most important thing, above all, is that you just have a go. The worst that could happen is that things don’t work out, but you will learn from it and move forward having learnt and [will be] in a better place.”