Are you a nice girl? If you’re like many women business owners, you grew up getting rewarded for being nice. Teachers gave you good grades, you made your parents happy and you got more friends by being nice.
Fast forward to today when you’re a small business owner. While you may think that being nice brings some of the same rewards (and you’d be right), there are also times when being too nice can harm you and your business. Here are some warning signs you might be suffering from “nice girl syndrome”—and how to take control.
Too nice to employees: Are your employees walking roughshod over you? Do you stay late every night at the office while your team leaves at 5 on the dot? Do you regularly pick up the slack for staffers who aren’t pulling their own weight?
What to do: Being too nice is doing your employees no favors. If you always take on their work, they’ll never learn or grow. Many entrepreneurs (not just women) struggle to delegate, but it’s important to learn. Start setting new rules and holding employees accountable for their work.
Too nice to clients: Do clients and customers request tons of last-minute changes, or ask for more and more work—without paying you any extra? No, the customer is not always right. It’s important to know where to draw the line so your business and your employees aren’t getting shortchanged.
What to do: Avoid “scope creep” by being clear about costs and deliverables upfront. Use written contracts to clarify what’s included in the purchase and what costs extra. You may decide it’s OK to do extra work for key clients, but even so, keep track of what you do so that when you renegotiate your contract, you can point out the added value you’ve brought to the table and justify a higher cost next time.
Too nice to your family: Are you taking on all the housework at home in addition to working 18-hour days at the office? Don’t give in and become a martyr just because you’re afraid of making waves.
What to do: Ask for what you want and figure out a win-win way to get it. If both you and your spouse are exhausted after long days, outsourcing chores like cooking and cleaning may be worth the cost. Or consider just lowering your standards a bit and being easier on yourself. If you’re like most women business owners, the one person you’re not nice enough to is you.
Image by Flickr user amber de bruin (Creative Commons)