Article by Linda Plant, BBC The Apprentice Interviewer and Founder of The Linda Plant Academy
Well I have to say up until a short while ago I always said no matter how successful I was, I recognised that the business world was still a man’s world, I just learnt how manoeuvre around it.
Today is a different story. I actually feel some companies could be scared to employ women. Have things gone too far? In some cases it’s definitely a yes. As a woman who was at the forefront of business when women were not in business I can tell you today is a different story in my book.
Here BBC The Apprentice interviewer and pioneer female business leader, Linda Plant tells her story and talks about her new launch that will help other women succeed in business too…
How did I cope as a woman in business in very much a man’s world? I was always confident in my ability and comfortable in my woman’s skin. The lesson I’ve learnt as a woman in business in the Far East stood me in good stead. As in any business negotiation, I always believe both parties must leave the table feeling the deal is fair. I am not one to strip the last penny or to leave my counterpart feeling too disappointed, thinking I got the total upper hand or they got a raw deal. I don’t think that works for building relationships, which for me are paramount in business.
Dealing in the Far East prepared me well. I knew that as a woman I was starting from a more difficult position than a man because face is very very important in the Far East, so I had to be tough to get my prices but had to leave my counterpart not feeling in any way humiliated or taken advantage of. I learnt to use the tactic that I was just a mere woman in a very tough man’s world and needed their kindness and co operation, expertise and support to help me grow my business. I evaluated each situation and acted accordingly. Actually I still do today if we are talking about negotiation. I learnt that you will easily get something you want by being nice rather than being nasty. That’s how I negotiated then and that’s how I negotiate today. Being a woman in business in a man’s world was great for me!
In the early days I was special and unusual and I used my femininity to its full advantage, velvet on the outside, tough as steel on the inside if that’s what was needed. I never let a man take advantage of me and I never let him think he could, but I was vary rarely overtly tough. My way was to gain men’s respect and that’s what I did.
I say it a lot but one of my biggest compliments was when I received an award in Korea and I was told ‘Linda you are like man!’ I knew I had earned the respect of my male counterparts, after all in Korea women could not work after marriage and all children belong to their husband’s family. Still when the government presented me with the award it was my husband on his annual visit who collected it.
Like anything, respect must be earned and it’s the same today. Would I change anything? – No it was great being a business woman in a man’s world. Do men intimidate me? No. Do I intimidate them? well, yes but not purposely. If you are self confident then your achievements speak for themselves. Make your point, just no need to shout it from the roof tops.
Fast forward a few years later and Linda is now launching her Business Blueprint Course through her new Linda Plant Academy. Written in her own words, it guides the business novice (or professional!) from getting started with a product or service, to successfully running their own company. It’s a no nonsense, A-Z of business covers every aspect of business you’ll need to master, from getting started to scaling up to the next level of business. Linda will be sharing the key business secrets that have taken her a whole career to develop.
The Blueprint to Success is a complete package and includes everything you need to start and run your business, from generating ideas and coming up with a USP to branding, pricing, negotiation, reaching customers and of course a step by step guide to writing the perfect business plan! It also includes an invaluable chapter on starting or building a business in uncertain times.
Linda’s course aims to de-mystify the business world for women and you don’t have to be from a business background to reap its benefits. Anyone contemplating setting up their own business can take the course, including those who have a business idea but are unsure how viable it is, established businesses, students at school, college or university and those deciding on their career path. Linda aims to make the seemingly unreachable, reachable for everyone. She comments, “I want to see everyone succeed from whatever background, which is why I’ve priced my courses at a reasonable level. There is also an option to stagger payments, to help spread the cost and make things more manageable.”
About the author
Linda built her career from humble beginnings to become one of Britain’s most successful business leaders. She is now helping others to forge their own career and business path too, with her Linda Plant Business Academy and her personally written Blueprint Business Course.
Linda is known as ‘The Queen of Mean’ for her no-nonsense interviews of BBC The Apprentice’s final five candidates, providing advice to Sir Alan Sugar over 5 seasons.
Her passion for business and entrepreneurship has also been recognised with a number of business awards and as judge of the top female entrepreneur for HSBC’s Panel of Forward Ladies.
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