· 2 min read · Features

Top tips: getting to the top

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A successful female entrepreneur outlines the skills that have made the biggest difference to her

In a society where entrepreneurialism is cherished and start-ups are often seen as a guiding light for the economy, female entrepreneurs are still fewer in number than men.

There is a particular skillset and mindset required to reach the top. For those looking to push for higher positions internally or to lead vast teams it is about believing you will get there. The skillset – and the mindset – to go through those moments when everything seems against you is necessary; it gives you the confidence to keep going and to inspire others at the same time. Being tough and resilient is as important as the skills themselves.

With this in mind I have outlined some of the skills that have made the biggest difference to me. I came from a different background to most (10 years in the news media) and was definitely made an entrepreneur rather than born one. I hope these tips can help you to manage teams, inspire tomorrow’s female leaders and innovators, or simply take you to your next promotion:

  • Find a mentor and learn from the best. Whether inside or outside the company, it is essential that you spend time with someone who can inspire you on the journey. Approach them in a way that suits them (do your research!) and be respectful of their time.
  • Push yourself and your own profile. Make sure your skills are up-to-date. If you’ve got to the end of the week and you haven’t learned anything then it’s a wasted week. That doesn’t mean going on expensive courses but it does involve spending time with people who can teach you something, be it a colleague, mentor, author, video blogger or speaker. Ted.com is a great place to start.
  • Create targets to focus your mission. It certainly won’t be plain sailing and little will go according to plan. People will let you down, you’ll face day-to-day surprises, and you will need to work with what you’ve got rather than what you’d like. The winners are the ones who get through those storms to the other side.
  • Don’t let your determination falter. If you believe you can you’re halfway there. I surround myself with people who build me up. That doesn’t mean I’m deluded; I’m my toughest critic and I invite critical opinion at the right time. I just don’t invite it when a new idea is taking flight. First it needs to get airborne.
  • Earn your seat at the top table and make it count. It is very easy to sit in the boardroom or be in an important meeting and shrink away from key decisions. If you train hard to get there you have to relish the chance to make the training count. Decision-making is crucial at any level and the more decisions you make the better you get. Remember, done is better than perfect.

Julie Walters is founder of Raremark, which helps families affected by a rare disease find helpful information and connections