While women have long been underrepresented in the business world, this trend is clearly changing. In fact, the number of female entrepreneurs in this country is increasing rapidly, and today, 37 percent of all U.S. businesses are female owned, according to the National Women’s Business Council.
If you are a woman interested in developing your own small business, you are probably wondering where and how to start. The key is learning to steer clear of the mistakes that many other women have made along the way. Below, we share valuable business advice for women looking to break into the world of entrepreneurship.
Never be afraid of failure: Take risks and move outside of your comfort zone. “Often, women are more affected by failure and let it affect their confidence,” explains Kavita Sahai, CEO and cofounder of 21 Drops, a wellness company that strives to remove the guesswork out of essential oils by creating unique blends to address common ailments, such as stress, sleep issues, congestion, and pain. “But don’t let it. Failure is an inevitable part of success, from which we learn. Remember the great advice from George Burns: ‘I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.’”
Seek out feedback and conduct research: Validate your business through feedback and competitive research. Because understanding exactly what customers want is vital to success, spend time researching competitors’ websites, as well as reading positive and negative reviews, and articles about competitors. “This in-depth analysis will help you determine your competition’s strengths and weaknesses,” explains Sahai. “Once you find their weaknesses, you should exploit them by making sure your product or service fills that gap for customers.”
According to Sahai, crowd funding can be a great way to validate your product idea. “Even though there are several crowd funding sites, iFundWomen is a great platform for women-led startups and small businesses, which offers free crowdfunding coaching.”
The site, whose mission is to close the funding gap for female-0wned businesses, provides immediate access to capital through a premium online fundraising experience, access to small business grants from corporate partners, expert business coaching, and a network of female business owners.
Be tenacious: Being the kind of person who never gives up and never stops trying is the key to entrepreneurship. “As a woman, it can be difficult to break into some industries,” explains Lindsay McCormick, CEO and founder of Bite Toothpaste Bits, a zero-waste company that makes toothpaste without any plastic packaging. “However, as any woman knows, being tenacious is part of our DNA. We can harness that asset to ensure that we don’t take no for an answer and that we’ll go back to the drawing board as many times as we need to. This drive not only propels us toward success, but it sets an excellent example for the rest of the team, where you’ll see creativity and productivity abound.”
Work to find your voice: Finding your voice as a female entrepreneur can be difficult, but you must find a balance between assertiveness and authenticity. “There are times where I remember shrinking myself and getting really small or playing the female role and never feeling good about that–and also not becoming empowered by it,” explains Julianna Curtis, owner of Energy Barre, a fitness and yoga studio with four Massachusetts locations and a state-of-the art app. “Then, there are other times where I can recall stepping up and being too tough, trying to prove myself too much, and that didn’t feel right either.”
She adds, “When you are just getting started and exploring your new role as a CEO, owner, founder, or whatever title fits you, take the time to learn how you want to lead and what style of leadership works best for you. Come as you are and don’t try to fit a mold.”
Tap into female entrepreneurship groups: Be open to the power of groups. “These groups have given me friendship, mentors, and peers,” explains Karen Leonard, co-founder and chief marketing strategist ofInnovative Global Vision, a website design and digital marketing company. “They have provided the sometimes not-so-easy-to-take reality checks and the understanding that sometimes, an outside perspective can remove the blinders that come from being too close to a situation or issue.”
She adds, “Remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Seek out companionship from others who are going through similar situations and can provide advice when you need it most. Entrepreneurship can feel lonely at times. Surround yourself with people who are cheering you on. Plus, your experience may help someone else.”
There is no question that being a female entrepreneur in today’s business world is challenging. While there are definitely difficult days and tricky decisions/situations to navigate along the way, having passion, tenacity, creativity, and grit are the ways to find success and achieve your dreams. At NCH, we are here to assist aspiring entrepreneurs to launch their businesses and position their businesses for success. Call us at 1-800-508-1729 to learn more!