Women entrepreneurs encouraged to take steps toward success

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Rachel Cosgrove defies any outdated stereotype of women as damsels in distress.

Cosgrove has developed one of the top gyms in the United State and along the way has become a corporate consultant, magazine columnist and best-selling author.

Other women can enjoy similar success if they take the correct steps and envision for themselves a different role than damsels in distress, she said. “Find your inner Wonder Woman. Find your inner superhero,” she said.

Cosgrove shared her experiences as well as her advice during a presentation to the Mesa County Women’s Network in Grand Junction.

Cosgrove and her husband, Alwyn, operate Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, Calif. What started out in 2000 in a 650 square-foot space with only a handful of members has grown into a 7,000 square-foot facility with 22 employees and 350 members. Men’s Health magazine has ranked Results Fitness among the top 10 gyms in the country.

Cosgrove also works as a consultant to such Fortune 500 companies as Nike and Gatorade and a columnist for Women’s Health magazine. She’s the author of  “The Female Body Breakthrough” and a contributor to the best-seller “The Big Book of Exercises.”

In addition, Cosgrove mentors other entrepreneurs in the fitness industry, among them Kiele Wilson, owner of Empower Fitness in Grand Junction. Wilson also serves as president of the Mesa County Women’s Network.

Cosgrove said women are naturally well-positioned to become successful entrepreneurs because they tend to bring important attributes to their ventures. They can handle multiple tasks even as they remain organized and pay attention to details. They also tend to be good communicators who can establish relationships.

But it also takes a determined effort to set and realize goals, cultivate high a

self-worth and put in place the systems and relationships that foster success, she said.

Women must decide on their own journeys and take the necessary steps to get there, Cosgrove said. Writing down goals constitutes a good first step, she said.

It’s important to establish business as well as personal goals. Cosgrove said one of her own personal goals was to fly first class on Virgin Atlantic Airways. She not only realized that goal, but in the process also met Richard Branson, the British billionaire who founded the airline.

Cosgrove also suggested that women entrepreneurs create what she called a vision board and keep it in different places to remind them of their aspirations for business as well as family, finances, health and spirituality.

In addition, women entrepreneurs should write down their core values and remember them even as they pursue their visions.

After deciding what it is they want to be the best at, women entrepreneurs should develop tunnel vision in focusing on their goals, Cosgrove said. Hiring a coach can help them to keep on track, but so can learning to say “no” more often, she said.

In cultivating high self-worth, women should take those actions that can increase their value as entrepreneurs or professionals. Such habits as reading and writing on a daily basis help as well, Cosgrove said. And women shouldn’t be afraid to “rock the mic” in promoting themselves and their ventures or leading their staffs. “Picture yourself as the rock star you are.”

Putting in place systems — including checklists, instructions, scripts and templates — helps in training employees and offering more consistent services to customers, Cosgrove said.

Establishing and fostering strategic relationships constitutes an important step toward success as well. And it starts with customers, Cosgrove said. “Clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

She encouraged women entrepreneurs to tell their stories when meeting with customers or marketing their ventures. While it’s important to write e-mails in a professional manner, hand-written cards can make a good impression when circumstances warrant them.

As a final bit of advice, Cosgrove said successful women entrepreneurs master their emotions and learn how to compartmentalize. Moreover, they trust their intuition. “This is one of our most powerful tools as women.”