It is a little known fact that the number of female entrepreneurs in the United States is quickly rising. According to Meghan Casserly at Forbes, there were more than 8.6 million women owned businesses in 2013, a 56% increase from 2002. In fact, the number of women-owned small businesses is growing twice as fast as the national average for all startups. Women are starting businesses in a variety of industries - from technology, to beauty, to professional services, and fashion, growing these businesses to become Fortune 500 companies. Start-Opia Radio had the opportunity to speak to three female entrepreneurs this week: Diana Keough of ShareWIK Media, Julie Brown of Julie Bee’s and Sara Buchanan of Your Talent Bridge and MyJobConnector. All three of our Start-Opia radio guests are graduates of LaunchPad2X, an exclusive women entrepreneurship program that develops critical leadership skills for female entrepreneurs. Their insight led us to share 5 key takeaways for women who are looking to run their own company.
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1. Work-Life Balance is an Important Piece to Staying Sane
Take time early in the planning process to consider your ideal vision for your business and your personal life. Maybe you have children and a husband to support daily or having at least one girl’s night is imperative for you to get through your week, either way these are things you should throw into the equation when starting your business. “It’s not just about you. It’s about your family, it affects your friends and it affects your whole being,” Julie emphasized. There are no rules as to what a "real" business should look like and finding the perfect balance between work and your personal life is essential to your overall happiness and the happiness of those around you.
2. Network, Network, Network
One of the best ways to market your business and create opportunities is through networking with other professionals. LaunchPad2x is the perfect place for women entrepreneurs to connect and support one another. By cultivating relationships with people, businesses, and members of the community, you are getting to know your potential customers as well as others who may be able to help your business. Diana stated, “if you don’t want to make those initial mistakes, you need a group and you need to be able to network and ask those questions: What mistakes have you made? What were the lessons learned? Who were you using as a startup that you could afford to use?” It is beyond important to surround yourself with like-minded individuals so have lunch with another local business owner or participate in an online discussion group for entrepreneurs. You will find that as your rolodex grows, so will your business.
3. Obtain Funding
Since a majority of people won’t have heaps of money lying around to start a business they will eventually have to seek financing for their operation. Sara described how having the access to capital is a significant challenge for women. She goes on to say, “it’s not because women don’t have great business ideas or concepts or businesses already in process, but women receive less than 10% of the angel and VC funding. However, women have owned businesses and women-led businesses are out-producing from a revenue perspective their male counterparts.” Start-Opia has the beginner tools to help startups with funding by providing a comprehensive list of capitalists in Atlanta and the rest of the Southeast.
4. Be confident
Knowing that you have done your homework for the task at hand is the ultimate confidence booster. When you go into meetings with potential clients, investors or customers, make sure you really know what you are trying to get across. Diana pointed out that “to do this you have to remove a lot of emotion and make business decisions.” It is extremely important to know the ins and outs of your industry and stay educated about the market you work within. Forbes put together a list of the 8 must-read publications for entrepreneurs, make a point to read news from them daily so you are consistently in the know. If you aren’t confident about your ideas and your knowledge, it won’t matter how much funding you have, who is in your networking circle or where you went to college.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Starting your own business is a huge feat and no one is successful without the help of mentors and colleagues who can offer support. LaunchPax2X is credited for providing the environment for female entrepreneurs to help each other and learn essential tips on creating successful women-led business. Julie stated, “Every entrepreneur has their own journey and I find that that journey is often lonely and hard. Having somebody to talk to that knows the struggles, the up and down of the roller coaster each and every day, and having that support network is important.” It is essential to know that you are not on your own in the entrepreneurial world and there are other women out there who want to provide you with advice.