Originally designated to celebrate women’s right to vote, Women’s Equality Day (August 26) shines a spotlight on women’s continuing efforts to gain full equality since the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1920.
Today, women own approximately 40 percent of the country’s small businesses. High profile business leaders like IBM’s Ginni Rommety, General Motors’ Mary Barra, and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg have shattered the glass ceiling and paved the way for future entrepreneurial women. While women entrepreneurs and small business owners continue to carve inroads, there is still plenty of progress to be made. In honor of the past, present, and future accomplishments of women in business, here are five tips for seasoned female entrepreneurs and up-and-coming newcomers who want to enhance their performance and achieve greater success.
Be a role model.
As a successful female small business owner, you have achieved what was once considered unimaginable. Just as you have created and/or taken advantage of opportunities to start and grow your business, you now have the ability to open doors for other women. You can start by setting a positive example for your staff as well as the vendors, customers, and other partners you collaborate with. Learning from the experiences of successful female bosses helps women gain knowledge, insight, and the confidence to set and reach higher goals.
Remember that the negative experiences you may have had along the way can teach you just as much as the positive ones. For instance, if you had a poor employee-manager relationship in the past, consider what wasn’t working and why. Let the mistakes others have made serve as a guide for becoming the boss you wish you had and the leader your team needs today.
Work smarter, not harder.
Are there small tasks that consume big chunks of your time? Is there a major project that keeps getting pushed back because you are continually sidetracked by the issues of others? You may need to reevaluate how your time is being spent.
There are numerous time management apps to help you make the most of every hour by tracking not just how you plan to spend your time, but where you actually spend it. Once you identify exactly how you and your team are wasting time, you can replace less important tasks or projects with those that are more productive. It is also essential that you entrust your best people to take on more responsibility and move less important work off your plate. This frees your time and shows you have confidence in your team.
Connect with other female business owners.
Business success is as much about who you know as what you know, and who better to build relationships with than other women entrepreneurs? According to the recent KPMG Women’s Leadership Study, 82 percent of professional working women believe access to and networking with female leaders will help them advance in their career. In addition, 67 percent of those surveyed said they had learned the most important lessons about leadership from other women.
Whether you’re looking for sage advice, informal pointers, or potential business opportunities, scheduling a one-on-one with women who have walked in your shoes offers the chance to exchange ideas, share issues and solutions, and discuss everyday business scenarios that mirror your own.
Don’t rest on your laurels.
If you have already carved your niche in the marketplace, it is important that you continue to look for ways to keep your brand fresh and your team stimulated. Resting on your laurels can lead to complacency and result in a lack of motivation for you and your staff.
Consider the next chapter in your entrepreneurial narrative. What is stopping you from taking the next step? If you have a stellar idea for a new product, service, or business, avoid the temptation to let fear paralyze you, and let your dreams inspire you to action.
If you are not sure how you see your business evolving, seek out colleagues and other small business owners who can help broaden your perspective or inspire new ideas or inventive tactics. There is also an array of great books that offer valuable food for thought for first-time entrepreneurs and experienced small business owners looking to scale new heights.
Advocate for diversity.
Inclusion matters not just on an ethical level, but also for the strength and profitability of your small business. As a woman in the workplace, you may know what it’s like to be the outsider in a room. You also know that the differences women bring to the table are often strengths that allow them to approach problems and develop solutions in unique and innovative ways.
It is incumbent on women business owners to create an inclusive workplace culture where every employee is treated fairly, regardless of gender. Ensure that top performing women are rewarded for their accomplishments and considered for and promoted to leadership positions. This sends a clear message to everyone on your team as well as prospective employees that your business thrives on listening to the points of view of others and engaging their talents.
In addition, encourage the female managers in your company to work closely with women in junior positions to give them the tools and guidance they need to grow and advance. In the absence of seasoned women leaders, consider collaborating with an outside consultant to provide all female staff members with valuable career advice and support in overcoming workplace challenges and obstacles.
Summit Financial Resources has long been a resource for women business owners who need working capital to sustain and develop their businesses. We celebrate their significant achievements and are proud of the work we do to help them move beyond financial barriers on their road to continued success.
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