Women’s Enterprise Scotland Ambassador and business coach Mel MacIntyre has dedicated her career to helping women unlock their potential. We talked about Mel’s journey to become a business owner herself, and how we can all help women to start up and thrive in successful businesses that enable a balanced lifestyle.
Why is it so important to support women business owners in unlocking their full potential?
“I have always been deeply curious about how to get the absolute best out of people in an empathetic, compassionate way. In my corporate career, I never felt like I could stretch my wings. After dealing with chronic physical and mental illness, I left my corporate career and chose to do something where I could make more meaningful difference. Setting up my own business as a coach was a way for me to make a vehicle for what I wanted my life to look like, and create the impact I wanted to have on the world.
What stops women from reaching their full potential? So many of us face the same challenges: some of these are structural barriers in society; equally, a lot of the barriers are internal. My job is to give someone the keys to unlock those internal barriers, so they can reach their highest potential. When someone finds their greatness, there’s an incredible ripple effect onto their own clients and families, and then their own clients and families. This is why it’s so important to support women in starting and thriving in their business journeys.
So, where can we start?
1) Create a safe space for difficult conversations
I create a safe space by being real and honest. As a leader, it’s important that people can understand that you, too, are vulnerable. Women face so many of the same challenges, so let’s be honest about them! For example, if you know you will perform better at certain times in your monthly cycle, schedule around that. Don’t shy away from discussing something just because it’s awkward or messy. Be willing to be honest with yourself and all those who are listening.
2) Don’t back down from a challenge when you have the evidence to back up your position
When someone challenges you on why you are fighting the corner for women business owners, stand by your evidence. For example, we know that women-owned businesses contribute only 20% of Scotland’s business base. Challenge people with evidence and don’t back down when you believe in your cause. This is how we can educate more people to support women business owners.
3) Share successes and elevate other women
In every coaching or mentoring session I run, I open with asking, “what are we celebrating this week?”. No matter how hard a time you’re having, there’s always something to be proud of and share with others. By recognising achievement and positivity, we alleviate self-doubt. Do this for yourself and the women who surround you.
4) Role-model your own leadership
Practice what you preach. It is important for me that as I become more visible, I’m able to bring people with me and shine the light on all of the amazing things that my clients do. I role-model that positivity in my own leadership, and then the knock-on effect means that others will lead with that same impact. Encourage the leadership behaviour which will inspire positive change in those around you.
5) Incorporate gender-nuanced approaches into your work
Help women and men find ways to create more balance to juggle all of the tasks that have been traditionally women’s responsibility. This point is particularly important to me because I couldn’t have built a successful coaching business without the support of my partner, Charlie. He has allowed me to realise my dreams through my business, and much of that has meant turning traditional gender roles on their heads.
We are at a tipping point. The old way of doing things isn’t fit for purpose anymore and we have the opportunity to rebuild and support more women to claim success on their terms. Start now, and take the steps to allow ourselves and other women to lean into opportunities to start, thrive, and lead in business.”
To stay focused on your growth in business, use Mel’s Focus Formula. It’s a free tool to help you plan your week around what’s important to you. Access the tool, here.
Visit Mel’s website and feel free to get in touch with her to find out more about how she can support you on your business journey.