Updated: Sep 5
Here are my TOP tips for aspiring women entrepreneurs I’ve learned over the years.
Get to Networking There is almost nothing more powerful for aspiring entrepreneurs than the reach and help of their network. Think of all the people you know (friends, relatives, current and former co-workers and fellow moms, who possibly can help you get started or know someone who can. Also, I learned the hard way many years ago you have to surround yourself with "Like-minded" individuals. Surround yourself with people that will help you get to the next level, not hold you back, bring negativity and make you doubt yourself. Networking with people in the same and different industries can help you narrow your focus and get a realistic view of entrepreneurship.
Join In Once you narrow your choices, join relevant organizations, Facebook groups, attend trade shows, conventions and other events, and find local networking groups where you can hopefully expand your network and meet new people…I don’t mean you should stalk other women business owners, but do reach out to the women you want to emulate in your community. Most women entrepreneurs are mindful of the challenges of business startup and happy to give advice and help other women succeed. Personally, I could write a book lol! All the things to do right, and all the mistakes I've made, and there's been a lot. I'm not ashamed to share my experiences with others to help them succeed.
Find a Mentor Mentorship is crucial, particularly if you’re starting in a new industry. A SCORE mentor can help you navigate all phases of business ownership and can often connect you with other key players, such as vendors or suppliers. I was blessed to have found a great mentor and we are still very good friends till this day, she helped me get to where I am today.
Form a Bubble I always try to surround myself with people I trust and rely on them for advice and support. In return, I support them as well. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, advice and favors. These people have stuck with me through my business’s startup phase and as my company has grown. Your bubble doesn’t need to consist only of women, but the women in my bubble are badass and brave.
Save for Startup Starting a business is more expensive than you think. If you can keep your current job while you plan your startup--and save, save, save as much money as you can, so you’re not caught short. Startup funding is hard to get whether you’re a man or a woman (though typically, it is harder for women), so it’s smart to build and keep an emergency fund in the bank for unexpected expenses.
Barter for Services It’s always a good idea to trade skills with other businesses when you need help and can’t afford to pay for it.
Promote Yourself as a Women Business Owner Consumers want to support women business owners, particularly other women. Make sure you are the face of your company and that your story is a part of your marketing efforts. Create an “About Me” page on your website and tell your audience what makes you tick. Then spread the news across social media.
Utilize Social Media
This is really going to show my age, but when I first started promoting myself and my new business in 1998, we didn't have the internet, social media or even cell phones. I literally had to hand out business cards, go out and meet new people face to face. I also remember having to purchase an ad in the yellow pages of the local phone book to get my name out there, which was very expensive at the time. These days there is no excuse to not utilize your social media accounts to promote yourself, your business and its FREE.
Hire Smart It’s expensive to hire an entire staff when starting, so consider using part-time employees, independent contractors, and interns. Not only will you save some money, but you’ll give yourself time to figure out exactly what roles you need to fill in your company to make it a success. Most importantly, do your research on these individuals to make sure they understand your businesses vision and are a good match. Have a clear standing of what you expect, they expect and the rules of your company. I have multiple employee contract agreements used when hiring. Unfortunately, you cannot expect others to have the same love, values and respect for your 'Baby" your business. The rules and expectations need to be clear and in writing. Your employees can make or break you.
Delegate Hiring and slowly doesn’t mean you should do everything yourself. Many women have a problem delegating because they’ve personalized their businesses and tasks so much that they feel no one can do them as well as they can, I've had to break myself from this mindset. Focus on the big picture and delegate the smaller jobs to others. Play to your employee's strengths and goal! Every employee should have goals they’re working towards, and within those goals are opportunities to delegate. My business is run like a team, we all support and help each other grow.
Manage Your Time I’m going to be brutally honest: There is NO life/work balance when starting and running a business, I'm still trying to find it 25 years later lol. This can be a massive trigger for guilt in women especially those with husbands, families, and small children to raise, even more difficult as a single mom. Women still tend to handle the bulk of household responsibilities, which takes valuable time away from investing in their businesses. But It’s okay to ask for help! Tell your family and friends you may need extra support during your business’s startup stages and let go of the guilt! Easier said than done. And full disclosure: To this day, I still struggle with managing my time, and probably why I'm still single Ha. My business and daughter will always be number one.
Get Used to Hearing No Starting a business is exciting and one of the most fulfilling things you’ll ever do. But it can also be heartbreaking and full of rejection. Be prepared to be told “No” more times than you’ve ever heard the word. My advice is to follow the wise words of Taylor Swift “Shake it Off” and keep on going.
There is No Such Thing as Perfection Don't drive yourself insane, I’ve learned that striving for perfection adds more stress to your life and can be a waste of time and money. Sometimes good enough is good enough. Start at the bottom and build your way up.
Most Importantly- Be Confident It’s hard, especially for women to overcome the fear of failure. But that’s what your bubble, mentors, and network, true friends and family are for, to remind you of your value! Keep shining! You've Got This....