Women surely have come a long way when it comes to their fair representation in entrepreneurship. It wasn’t what it is now even a quarter of a century ago, which makes for a huge improvement in terms of women’s empowerment.
According to data put forth by the National Association of Women Business Owners, there are about 1,072 firms headed by women that get started in the US every day. Women-led businesses have also been growing at five times the US national average since 2007. More specifically, there are more than 11.6 million businesses in the US that are owned by women.
Their impact on the national economy is equally impressive, what with the more than $1.6 trillion that it generates in revenue annually. Further, they go on to employ about 9 million as well, which should be a nice indicator of the sort of impact that women-owned businesses have on the small business segment in the US.
Unfortunately, the complete picture isn’t as rosy as the above discourse might make you to believe it is. Rather, about half of the businesses are found to lose its relevance within five years with about 20 percent ceasing to exist within the first year itself. Many women complain about funding too is a problem for their business, with them receiving just about 7 percent venture capital.
All of this points to there being a lot of ground to cover before women can claim to be on an equal footing vis-a-vis man when it comes to entrepreneurship.
Here are a few ways women entrepreneurs can empower themselves to beat the odds and emerge on top.
1. Learn to take failure in your strides:
That is the first and one of the most important steps to get started. This perhaps is more applicable to women as they tend to get emotionally drained from failures. Rather, failure is a clear sign of you having attempted something extraordinary, which itself is commendable. Also, you are richer in experience with each failure.
However, the key to you achieving success is to keep competing. While it is true it is easy to be overwhelmed by the usual discourse underlining the perceived superiority of men compared to women, you got to have that feeling emanating from deep within you that you too can do it. You just have to keep coming back at it if you are unable to make it through on the first or even multiple attempts. In short, you got to be confident and tenacious.
2. Do what you are really passionate about:
You should have a strong passion for what you are doing. This way, you will always be motivated to chase your goals, which again is almost half the battle won. You will also enjoy doing what you are doing, and happy employees make light of their work. You will never have to push yourself doing the job while you will love the challenges that come your way instead of being cowed down by those.
3. Pay heed to customer reviews:
Customers are kings and treat them accordingly. Make sure you never lose touch with them; for it is they alone that can make or break your business. Pay heed to their feedback, particularly the negative reviews as those are the ones that likely will spell out how you can improve and grow further.
4. Network with others:
You simply can’t start a business and flourish in isolation. The only way to make your business take off is to let others know of your venture. That may not be an easy task – trying to make your presence felt in a male-dominated environment or securing outside funding, should you need it. But then, there is no way you can get around this. You have to overcome your fear of rejection and network with just everybody and anybody.
By doing so, you are also advertising your product or service, which can only be beneficial for your business. You will also learn how people react to your business, which again can be an important indication of how your product or service is perceived by others.
5. Keep improving in your niche:
Start by setting a goal, which again should be realistic and practical. Also, make a genuine effort to meet your goals. By doing so, you will have a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. Again, if you fail to make it, introspect, and find out what went wrong or what else you should have done. Such efforts will help you get better at what you are doing while learning new stuff as well. These again are like baby steps to you achieving success in your business consistently.
6. Act according to a financial plan:
Make sure you have chalked out a thorough financial plan to fund your business after having taken into account all possible eventualities. This is important as most businesses fizzle out for want of cash and securing funding according to your terms might not always be possible.
Also, keep a keen eye on all expenses to ensure you are not making redundant or irreverent purchases, and that you are getting your money’s worth with whatever purchase or expenses you do. Remember, every dollar saved adds to your business’ bottom-line, and the money thus accrued will help when you need, like when expanding your business or upgrading the infrastructure and so on.
7. Work in an environment devoid of negativity:
Business, almost always, is a team effort where you are working with others to achieve a common goal. That makes it imperative to have the right people around you at all times, employees who are eager to work with you to make the venture a success. Anyone who seems to have other ideas or isn’t concerned with the business’s success should not be part of your team. Even if it is a single employee, it can be enough to bring the team spirit down.
8. Maintain the balance between work life and personal life.
This is important for every working woman as they need to maintain a fine balance between work and family. Make it a point you are able to devote some time to your family and loved ones on a regular basis. You will get the emotional support you need to de-stress and unwind, which will help you regroup again to face newer challenges with renewed vigor. Make it a point you do this even if you are a workaholic. Else, you risk burning out within a few years even if you had started big.
9. Never be afraid to experiment:
Always be open to new thought processes and ideas; for you never know which of these might inspire to you achieve something big. This will keep your mind fresh and active, things that will keep you prepared to adopt changes that might be necessary. On the other hand, if you have drawn lines around you and keep yourself withdrawn within that, you might find it hard to adapt to changes that come your way.
10. Market effectively:
Marketing happens to be one of the most important facets of your business after you have started. It is a means to reach out to your prospective clients with your products or services. Without marketing, buyers will never know who you are, what business you are in, what you have to offer, and how those can help improve the life of buyers. Marketing helps answer these questions and draws the buyers to your business.
In the end, what needs to be kept in mind is that the basic qualities needed to be a successful entrepreneur are not limited to the menfolk. Unfortunately, some unwritten rules that we have inherited down the ages make us falsely believe men to be superior compared to women. However, with judicious use of the qualities that women are naturally endowed with, they too can emerge on top and become achieve success in business as well.