Kevin O’Leary of ABC’s “Shark Tank” gets the vast majority of his investment returns from women-owned companies. In various interviews, O’Leary said that female entrepreneurs tend to start small and handle cash conservatively whereas male CEOs often increase enterprise risk by aggressively expanding operations.
Women own 20% of employer businesses nationwide, according to 2018 data from U.S. Census Bureau. That’s 11.6 million firms, 9 million jobs and $1.7 trillion in sales, according to National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Women-led companies are also growing in number year over year.
Let’s take a look at insights female business owners share on how they’ve make their venture successful.
Put People First, Profits Second
It’s ultimately about helping others. There’d be no profits if people don’t want to do business with you.
Today In: Leadership
“In order to run a successful business, from sales calls to team building, you’ve got to see people. Understand what they want, what drives them, what stops them from creating the life they dream of and if it even makes sense for you to work with them,” says Tara Oldridge, creator of Vision to Business, a two-day workshop for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Women are positioned to serve customers in the industries they choose. According to Guidant Financial, the top 5 female-owned small business industries are:
Leading an enterprise also means balancing various and competing interests of the founder, customers, employees, investors, suppliers and other stakeholders. But Oldridge says leaders must prioritize people, and that people are not a means to an end.
“If you see people as dollar signs, you may achieve a few great successes, but you won’t know the level you missed had you put people before padding your pockets.” She adds, “I coach my clients to always start at the basics and as they advance in their business, I often bring them back with this question: ‘What 10 people need you today that you have left behind?’ Go find and serve them.”
Declare Your Values And Empower Employees
“Know what you stand for,” says Kelly Bone, Founder and CEO of Wolfpack Solutions. She says a founder must establish the company’s values and develop employees to become leaders. “To truly empower employees, you need to make them leaders. You need to help them understand that it’s up to them to move from intention to action, while still providing the support they need to make this change.”
According to Guidant Financial, of the top three challenges for small business owners, 36% of female entrepreneurs found lack of capital or cash flow to be their top challenge, while 16% said it was marketing and advertising, and 14% struggled with time management.
Bone says a founder can build a strong company and overcome challenges by hiring talent who can execute and make the right decisions. “One of the ways you empower your employees is by showing them how to embrace a ‘focus on what matters’ mindset. You do that by making them responsible for their departments and not intervening unless necessary or if they ask for your help.”
She also advises against micromanaging. “Your people will not be able to focus on what’s important in their job because they will be trying to predict what you’ll change. Shift to performance management leadership by letting them discover their own path to your shared goals.”
Do It Your Way
There’s definitely a sense of fulfillment when one leads a thriving venture: on a scale of one to ten, 70% of female business owners rate their happiness level between eight to ten, according to the same Guidant Financial survey. One entrepreneur says business allows women to express themselves, and they should leverage such creative energies.
“Making mistakes is part of the path, and the more willing you are to examine your motivations, what pushes your buttons and how you respond and react will help you grow further and faster,” says Destinee Berman, a marketing expert who helps professionals and coaches launch their life’s work online.
She believes that entrepreneurs can differentiate their ventures because they themselves are unique. “There is a distinction between being industry-proven practices and utilizing your individual success blueprint, with space for both. With the reach and scale of the internet today, you have the freedom to be who you are and be wildly successful doing it.”
“Effective marketing is establishing a connection as quickly as possible, showing you understand their problem and communicating what you stand for. You can’t do that unless you are clear on your DNA and why you exist.”
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