Dragons’ Den star and co-founder of Minhas Breweries and Distillery, Manjit Minhas, started her first company at the age of 19. Read on as she reflects on her path to success, entrepreneurship, and tips for career advancement.
Mediaplanet: Why do you think it’s important for women to take charge of their careers, and what are some of the steps they can take to do so?
Manjit Minhas: Take charge of your career advancement. You need to own your career; it’s not the responsibility of your employer or your boss.
Having a conversation with your boss about your career aspirations may not be at the top of your list of things to do, but it should be. Too often, we don’t give our boss a chance to help. You may be afraid your manager will fire you or react poorly. Timing is everything. Plan your conversation in advance and position it as a discussion, not an ultimatum.
Learn new skills for career growth. Acquiring new skills will improve your marketability.
Expand your personal brand. In a perfect world, your boss would tell management about your success on the job, but we all know that doesn’t happen very often. It’s up to you to make sure the right people know about the value you add to an organization. Take control of your career reputation and look for ways to get the word out about your expertise.
Network for career advancement. Think of networking as information gathering. It helps you learn about the challenges other workers face and it gives you the opportunity to talk about what you’ve learned. If you’re networking-averse, keep in mind that all you’re asking for when you meet with someone is advice, information, or recommendations. Don’t forget to keep in touch with past colleagues and classmates.
Find mentors for career growth. A mentor-mentee relationship doesn’t have to be formal. It can simply be a conversation with someone you respect. And there’s no limit to the number of mentors you can have. Typically, a mentor provides information about his or her own career path, but your mentor can also offer career guidance and motivation, and serve as a role model. You may choose mentors from inside your organization or outside your organization, or both.
Learn to negotiate. Women are good negotiators but don’t do it often enough. Take a negotiation skills class to gain confidence in this critical arena. Remember, you don’t get what you deserve in life, you get what you negotiate.
What would you tell the younger version of yourself?
Life and business are really a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t set arbitrary goals. Your definition of success will change as you go and that’s normal, because your priorities change over time. Don’t be scared to fail, just learn from every bump in the road so you can make better mistakes next time. That’s where you learn the most!
Be kind and always take the high road. You’ll never regret it.
Don’t overthink anything. Make conscious decisions, but if something changes unexpectedly, don’t panic. Just know it was supposed to happen that way and you can’t control it.
What advice would you give to young women who may lack confidence in themselves?
Take responsibility for yourself. This is the first and most important ingredient in the self-confidence formula. You, and only you, can make new things happen in your life. If you wait for serendipity to provide you with good fortune or increased confidence, you’ll be waiting a long time. Realize that the path toward self-confidence is one that you’ll have to travel — no one else can do it for you.
Begin to experiment with life. Try something new. Go out to dinner alone. Take a class in an unfamiliar subject area. Teach yourself how to repair a toaster. Testing your abilities at new endeavours is a wonderful way to learn that you can rely on yourself.
Develop an action plan and implement it. Select one area for personal or professional development. Determine the action steps you’ll take to get there. Put these steps on a timeline. Now implement each step according to plan — no excuses. Every small step you take will be a great boost to your confidence.
Stick with it. When you take on a new challenge, stick with it. Self-confidence doesn’t come from each thing you attempt. If it did, one failed effort would bring you back to zero on the confidence scale. True confidence develops from an increasing belief that you can rely on yourself to take action and follow through, no matter what the result.
Find a mentor. Do you know someone who is confident and continues to take one new risk after another? Watch how they do this. Muster up the courage to ask them to meet you for coffee. Find out how they do what they do and ask them for feedback about your action plan and implementation. Most confident people are happy to help. They remember the courage and effort it’s taken them to get where they are today.