Being an entrepreneur is challenging, but being a female entrepreneur is even more difficult and brings with it a list of its own challenges. The struggles that women in business face are of the hush-hush variety, the things that no-one tells you because it is politically incorrect to do so. What is amazing though, is that in spite of all of the odds being stacked against them, there are more and more successful female-owned companies being started in South Africa and all over the world and this shows the incredible tenacity of the female gender. So, in celebration of Women’s Month this August, we want to share with you just five of the key things that every woman should know before embarking on a new business venture.
1. Once you start a business, you will be faced with criticism from your friends and neighbors about your parenting style, your work ethic and your personal decisions
When a woman with a family starts a business, she faces all kinds of unexpected criticism. It is really difficult to stay focused on the task at hand and not to start second-guessing her decision to become a business owner. Within this context, it is really easy to get consumed with doubt and guilt. Good advice would be that instead of using your family as the reason why you can’t start a new business, try turning it around and using your family as your motivation and inspiration to become a successful entrepreneur.
Women need to remember that they are never going to make everyone happy and when they become a seasoned entrepreneur, they won’t even attempt this. The key is just to be yourself and be confident. Filter the advice and criticism that you are given and only ever listen to someone who you admire and respect.
2. Use all Women-Owned Small Business perks to your advantage
Women are notoriously bad at taking advice or help when it is offered – they seem to think of it as a weakness – it is not. Take help when it is offered or available. Do your homework and see if there are any perks that are being offered to women entrepreneurs and if you find them, use them. Don’t be proud and think that you don’t need them, rather be clever and use every opportunity to make a success of your business. It will not diminish your success, but will be an inspiration to other female entrepreneurs and will also increase your network.
3. Women entrepreneurs really need to have a good understanding of finances to make a success of their venture
It’s tough to get a small business loan, but in South Africa, what is great is that it is sometimes easier for a woman. One of the ways to keep you ahead when it comes to money matters is to keep your credit score high. Next, it’s very important that you are able to compile, understand and explain all the information on basic financial statements.
When you embark on any entrepreneurial endeavor, one of the most important tools in your armory will be a good understanding of basic accounting. Understanding financial reports is a must and will go a long way to getting you the financial assistance that you need to make your business a success. You can learn what you need to know by studying QuickBooks (and the online forums) for a month and by investing in a software package that will help you to keep track of your financials from the outset. This investment from an outlay and time point of view will pay off handsomely in the future.
4. Market yourself as best as you can with the budget that you have
Marketing is a hugely important part of being a successful entrepreneur and whatever means you have should be used in a focused and savvy way to make sure that you are speaking to your potential customer at every opportunity. Don’t underestimate the impact that this aspect of your business can have on whether it will succeed or fail.
5. Women who become entrepreneurs really can have it all. It just takes impeccable time management and creativity.
Balance is something that everyone strives for and for the female entrepreneur this is even more elusive. It doesn’t have to be unobtainable though, it just takes a bit more creativity and planning. The important thing is to define what success means to you, and plan the best way to achieve that goal without compromising on the things that are important to you such as being at your kids soccer games, reading them a story every night or making sure that you are the one that picks them up from school.
For every woman, these non-negotiables will be different, so the key is to define success in your own way, and then fight to make it happen.
Although these are just some of the challenges that female entrepreneurs will be faced with in the search for success, understanding these and preparing for them will go a long way to ensuring ultimate victory. So why not take the leap and start that new venture – being a woman is part of the reason that you will most likely succeed!