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Self-Promotion: Why It's a Challenge for Women Entrepreneurs?

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

We all know the struggle: putting yourself in the spotlight isn't easy for everyone, especially for Women Entrepreneurs. During the recent workshop titled "The Art of Self-Promotion" hosted by We Rise at Womade, communication specialist Sarah Diedro Jordao aimed to answer a pressing question: why do we often find it difficult to naturally "sell ourselves"? Seated around a table, pen in one hand, iced tea in the other, participants were eager to absorb every word of wisdom that was about to unfold...

Female entrepreneurs in a community at Womade Brussels.

The Unconscious Fears of Self-Promotion

Sarah posed the question, "What prevents women to stand up for themselves?" The answers were varied: lack of self-esteem, perfectionism, cultural influences, upbringing, and more. Did you know that the primary culprit is often impostor syndrome? It affects 70% of women, as opposed to 50% of men. Lack of support, self-confidence, societal expectations, and pressures come afterward.

Storytelling: The Antidote to Downplaying Our Success

To boost our self-promotion prowess, Sarah introduced us to an exercise she dubbed the "Flex" moment. This involves proudly showcasing our achievements or possessions, typically in a manner that can be seen as boastful.

After a moment of contemplation, attendees quickly realized that the exercise wasn't as effortless as it appeared. One person raised their hand, then another, but many hesitated (myself included). This hesitation is perfectly normal. According to Sarah, truly "selling" your pride requires belief. You must believe in the story you're about to tell; it's all about effective storytelling. Embrace self-assurance, be confident, and don't be afraid to make some noise (within reason)!

"I spent two and a half years building my business, and I finally launched it. I'm doing what I've always wanted, and I couldn't be prouder", said a participant.

"Yeah duh, if we lack confidence in ourselves and our story, how can we transform it into a compelling narrative?" Like any great story, it needs a beginning; start by defining your personal mission statement, your "why," as Simon Sinek puts it.

"Ready, set, go!" Sarah encouraged. In the span of a song, we had to uncover our mission.

Here's mine:

As a freelance copywriter, my role is to make my clients feel good, comfortable and proud of their stories, so I can bring them to life in the right way; not in a different way.

Negotiations: Pitfalls to Avoid

Saying "yes" to everything and everyone isn't the solution. "Bulleshit" attracts "bulleshit" and can erode your credibility over time. So, it's crucial to set boundaries and stick to them.

To do that, you need self-awareness. Sarah reassured us by acknowledging that everyone starts somewhere, making trial-and-error attempts, and that confidence will grow with time.

But it takes time. Speak up for yourself and become your own advocate.

Women entrepreneurs helping each others in a community.

For successful negotiations, remember to:

  • Come prepared and leave with clarity.

  • Distinguish between negotiable and non-negotiable aspects (e.g., you may not have received your desired salary, but you secured essential training).

  • Be firm, confident, and clear.

  • Present facts (facts alone can resonate with your counterpart).

  • Consider the full package (e.g., you may not have received everything you wanted, but you gained the opportunity to work with a prestigious client, which can lead to new opportunities down the line).

  • Rehearsal your message at least five times (three times in front of a mirror and twice in front of others).

According to Sarah, one thing is certain: you must dare to ask for what you truly want.

The key is to have tried; perhaps it wasn't "a big deal" for the person you were negotiating with. You'll come out as a winner!

Success Squad: Ensuring You're Surrounded by the Right People

To thrive in your personal and professional life, it's essential to have the right support system. Sarah suggests connecting with five types of individuals, known as your "Success Squad":

  • Accountability Partner: Someone who keeps you on track with your goals and nudges you in the right direction when you veer off course.

  • Mentor: An individual with more experience (in your field or beyond) who guides you on your journey.

  • Sponsor: A person who promotes your services within their network without you having to ask.

  • Hype Master: Someone who's there to boost your confidence when needed.

  • Transparency Queen: A person who openly discusses various topics (such as pricing and salaries) without holding back.

With a support system like this, you're well-equipped to transform your business into a success!

If you don't have all these individuals in your circle, keep your ears open and reach out to them.

Sarah's Resources

1. Books:

Little Black Book by Otegha Ywagba

Fuck Being Humble by Stefanie Sword-Wiliams

2. Podcasts:

In Good Company by Otegha Ywagba

Your Juno by financial experts

Financial Feminist by Tori Dunlap

At the end of this article, if self-promotion still feels like a daunting task, consider putting your ideas, mission, and goals into writing. Once your thoughts are clear, practice and take the plunge! After all, what's the worst that could happen? At the very least, you'll be proud of the effort and ready to share your story with a confident flex! ;)

Many thanks to our Womade Sarah Diedro Jordao for delivering this incredibly inspiring workshop.

For more info, follow her on instagram, Linkedin or visit her website.

If you're interested in attending We Rise's upcoming events, please check our agenda here.

Written by Charlotte Pijnaker, freelance copywriter.

Follow her on instagram & Linkedin or contact her at


WOMADE is an women focused community & coworking space in Brussels — follow us on Instagram

WE Rise is a business club designed to stimulate your ideas, and expand your network and opportunities — follow us on Instagram


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