Unfortunately, some women’s ability to execute the advice may be hampered by an underlying belief.
Many women and men are drawn to starting an enterprise because of the desire for independence and the opportunity to reach big goals. Drivers include entrepreneurial passion, personal reward, a wish to escape dissatisfaction in the workplace or simply to have flexibility and create a good work-life balance.
But does advice for men and women differ in any way?
Joan Raymond says in his article in Newsweek (23 January 2008): “Are men smarter than women? No. But they sure think they are. An analysis of some 30 studies by British researcher Adrian Furnham, a professor of psychology at University College London, shows that men and women are fairly equal overall in terms of IQ. But women, it seems, underestimate their own candlepower (and that of women in general), while men overestimate theirs.”
Who is smarter, women or men, isn’t the point. It’s about acknowledging and embracing the capabilities that each person actually possesses.
In the article Furnham reveals, “Men aren’t more clever or smarter. But since they think they are, they are more confident about their abilities. These self-beliefs, however, may be highly adaptive. Who gets a job? A bright woman who doesn’t think she’s smart, or a not-so-bright man who believes he’s capable of anything? Arrogance and hubris are not attractive qualities, but confident, self-belief may be. Certainly, underestimating abilities might hurt you. There’s a good quote from one of your countrymen, Henry Ford. He says: "Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right." And that is what is troublesome. Beliefs may be more important than actual ability in certain settings.”
Matching confidence with capability
In the quote above Furnham mentions ‘who gets the job’ but the same idea applies to who starts a successful business. As mentioned, the tips for women who want to start their own business are generally the same as for men. But keeping in mind that women tend to underestimate their brilliance, one difference would be that women need to make sure their confidence level matches their true capability. Confidence goes a long way to create credibility, something that every business owner must have.
If this generality doesn’t apply to you and you feel super confident, then there is nothing to stop you from moving forward and creating a successful business. And who knows, perhaps you can inspire other women who aren’t as confident to connect to their true value.
What about the economy?
I’m convinced that it’s always a good time to start a business, no matter what the economy is doing. Yes, the economy can affect your business but if you have a solid business model you can create a successful business in any environment. Because there will always be people who want what your business offers and are willing to invest in it. It’s just a matter of finding them. This may require more of an effort during a downturn in the economy, and it’s absolutely achievable.
Tips for women who want to start their own businesses:
• Write down the vision you have for your business
It’s important to know where you are going. Getting your thoughts down on paper is an excellent way to clarify what you want for your business. Think big and be willing to imagine large possibilities. Having a vision will also help you through the tough periods when you wonder why the heck you started a business in the first place (alas, it’s not always pure bliss).
• Create a rock-solid business model
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not uncommon for people to have an idea for a business and not be clear about how exactly it will make money. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy business plan but it does need to contain concrete information about how revenue will be generated and how much profit will be earned.
• Have a clear niche and target group
Trying to be everything to everyone simply doesn’t work. Clarify what problems your business solves and for which specific group it solves them. By focusing on one group, creating a profitable business becomes much easier. Having a niche and a target group will allow you to grow faster and you will create expert status for your business.
• Realise how critical marketing is, the amount of time it takes
Many business owners think they are in the business of delivering the products or services their business provides. But actually, you are in the business of marketing the products and services your business offers. And yes, if you are a one person organisation you will have to both market and deliver. Starting out you can estimate spending 50 percent of your time on marketing. If you don’t want to do it (or know you won’t do it), hire someone. The point is, it has to get done.
• Have a franchise mentality from the start
Even it you have no intention to franchise your business, if you design your business in a way so that it could be franchised, you will make life much simpler for yourself. This concept is all about creating systems and procedures so things flow easily and you’re not constantly reinventing the wheel. After all, you want to create a business, not a job. An exceptional book about this topic is The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. A must read for any business owner.
• Stay focused
As a business owner you wear many different hats. And while that can be exciting, it is easy to get distracted and end up spending time on things that are not going to move your business forward. Identify the high payoff activities and plan them into your schedule.
• Be willing to outsource
You don’t have to do it all yourself. In fact, in time you’ll find that it’s nearly impossible to do so. Begin by outsourcing tasks like administration, tax/accounting, and technical issues. As your business grows, you may want to hire employees or contract people for support in more expanded roles within the business.
• Make your business bigger and portable using the internet
If you’re like many female entrepreneurs, you have lived in many cities (or countries) and you are likely to be moving again in the future. By marketing on the internet you create a portable business you can take with you wherever you go. And even if you plan to stay put, you can dramatically increase the reach of your business by having an internet presence and marketing on-line.
• Avoid isolation, get support
Starting your own business can feel lonely at times. Women are experts at creating connections and networking, so be willing to get out there and meet new people. Support can come from many sources. You can create a master-mind group of fellow entrepreneurs that meets regularly to discuss and share ideas. You can network with other business owners at established organisations. And you can get one-on-one support and guidance by finding a mentor or hiring a coach.
• Don’t wait until you feel 100 percent ready
Do the necessary research and preparation before starting your business but do not fall into the trap of waiting until you know “everything” you think you need to know before you start. This is where the lack of confidence can delay, or arrest the decision to begin your own business. There will always be more to learn and some things you can’t learn until you actually begin.
In a 2004 report by UK organisation Aurora on women-owned business, women were asked what the number one best thing was about being a female entrepreneur in Britain. Here is what two of them had to say:
“Breaking the pattern, standing out from the crowd, continually learning, seeking out opportunities, maximising opportunities, succeeding, sharing learning, encouraging others, being inspired, joining a community, making a difference, making it happen, helping, caring, supporting, creating the future…just doing it!”
“The ability to make own choices and decisions about the direction I want to take myself and my company. Running a company means I am not pigeonholed into any one job role, I get to use all my skills, and work in a challenging, enjoyable environment.”
Stephanie Ward is a Business Growth Coach for Entrepreneurs and is the author of a free special report, 7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time, which is available at her website www.fireflycoaching.com.
Photo by ET online