Virtually every person who launches a startup will face a seemingly endless barrage of hurdles, but making it as a female entrepreneur is difficult for several different reasons. Women must contend with gender bias in many different forms, including fewer opportunities for funding and mentorship.
Despite this, more women than ever before are launching successful businesses, largely because of the support they provide each other as the global network of female entrepreneurs grows. Heeding the advice of successful entrepreneurs is a great way to avoid the common pitfalls and get a strategic advantage when launching a startup.
Read on for some key pieces of advice from successful female entrepreneurs.
1. Understand the customer.
The fastest path to success in entrepreneurship is getting intimately acquainted with your market. You will need to understand what your customer wants and what is already available on the market so you can offer a product or service that fulfills a niche.
You can accomplish this in many different ways, but first and foremost you should talk to your customers. Speaking frequently to customers is the best way to keep abreast of changing expectations and new needs that remain unmet. Polls and similar tools are great for collecting baseline information, but calling and talking to individual customers provide a fuller picture of the market they represent.
2. Never stop learning.
The best entrepreneurs know that they can never get too comfortable. Regardless of the industry, shifts happen quickly and business owners need to be prepared.
Preparation can happen through several different avenues. Taking business classes is a great way to learn some new skills, but you can also look for local workshops, where you can network while learning.
When you commit to continuing education, you can get much more involved with your community. For instance, you could get tapped for speaking engagements or uncover other professional opportunities, which are great for building both relationships and awareness.
3. Make short-term goals.
All entrepreneurs should have clear short-term goals that complement their long-term ones. Entrepreneurship is mentally and emotionally taxing, and you can start to feel overwhelmed and defeated if you do not celebrate the small victories. Also, long-term goals can feel so far off that working toward them feels like swimming upstream.
Setting short-term goals can help you feel accomplished and ultimately move you closer to your overarching objectives. Plus, setting frequent short-term goals means often reviewing and revising long-term ones.
4. Conquer fear.
Many women in entrepreneurship are held back by their fear. To keep moving forward, you must figure out how you can conquer your fear in a professional setting. Sometimes, fear exists due to imposter syndrome. Other times, it may derive from a lack of decisiveness.
It’s best to do some personal work to figure out what is driving your fear and address it early in your career. When people conquer their fear, they appear more confident, making a lasting impression on the people around them. Conquering fear also helps prevent you from second-guessing yourself constantly, which can hold you back from success.
5. Talk about the product.
For a large number of entrepreneurs, humility feels like the right route to take. However, success often depends on you being vocal about your new business venture. You should ensure that everyone you know, from business associates to friends and family, knows about it. This will ensure that your company will always come to mind when a related topic is raised. It can also provide opportunities to forge a new business relationship or even snag a customer.
6. Network with other women.
Across the nation, women are building businesses and forming groups to support other women wishing to do the same. Getting involved with a local network of female entrepreneurs is a great way to learn about the quirks of doing business in your particular geographic market (and potentially even lead to mentorship opportunities).
There are groups based on industry, location, and more, so it is easy to find some sort of support and guidance. Having other female entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off of is incredibly helpful, whether that means identifying new business leads or just venting about shared frustrations.
7. Follow your intuition.
When starting a business, it is important to learn and listen to advice, but at the end of the day, you will need to learn to follow your heart. The worst that can happen is a mistake is made and a lesson is learned. Second-guessing your abilities or decisions is not helpful. Entrepreneurs make dozens of decisions each day, and they don’t have the time to invest heavily in researching each one. You will need to listen to your intuition and remain prepared for a bit of trial and error. Ultimately, entrepreneurs learn best from their mistakes, which should be thought of as opportunities for learning rather than setbacks.