In November, I spoke at the Westport-Weston, Danbury and Madison chambers of commerce. Each of these chambers has a group dedicated to helping women pursue their goals. While each takes a different approach, they seem to have the same mission.

I was excited to address these groups because it allowed me to share my insights into how women start or expand a business. We talked about what characteristics a woman needs to be a successful entrepreneur. There is no question about it -- there are traits that set people apart and I am often asked to speak about that subject.

So here are four mindsets that all of the successful female entrepreneurs I work with possess:

Risk Taking: All successful entrepreneurs are risk takers. They realize that this is a key to success. They don't over think situations. They tend to be opportunistic and willing to seize an opportunity. Many leave well-paid and secure jobs to try something new and risky that they assume will result in a high-income business.

Effectively Overcome Obstacles: We all face obstacles but the way we handle them will determine how successful we are. Most entrepreneurs that I have worked with deal with an obstacle head-up. They don't shy away or ignore it hoping it will go away. The size up the situation and determine an action plan to deal with it. If they can't deal with it, they find someone who can.

Turning Negatives into Positives: It can be hard to take a negative situation and turn it around. However, we must find a way to do it. People who are successful tend to take responsibility for their situation and don't play the victim. They realize they are in control of their lives.

Belief and Commitment: Launching or expanding a business requires focus and hard work. You must really understand the market and know that there is a need for your product or service. Then you have to keep your eye on the ball and make it happen. Develop a detailed plan, monitor your progress and make adjustments, if necessary.

A lot of success comes from having the right mindset. If you don't have it, you can create it and go for the gusto.

Kathy McShane is managing director of Ladies Who Launch, Connecticut. She can be reached at or

More Information

Fact box