Since the height of the recession in 2008 entrepreneurship has been on the rise, as many professionals have decided to venture out on their own. Everyone has a business idea or passion they would like to pursue but not everyone has the confidence, gall, or financial security to do so. For the longest time the corporate world, especially when it came to business was a male dominated realm. However, all that has changed now as female entrepreneurs are on the rise. This is a global phenomenon in which Canada proudly partakes. In fact statistics show that 4 out of 5 businesses are started by women. Female entrepreneurs are a growing and significant component of Canada’s economic landscape. Female entrepreneurs have made significant progress and paved the way for future women in business. It’s important to keep up the momentum started by our predecessors.
Here are a few tips for current and aspiring female entrepreneurs:
1. Be objective
Unfortunately women have fallen under the stereotype of being overly emotional or taking things too personally. However this isn’t necessarily true. In fact women just have a higher sense of emotional intelligence and feel empathy more freely than men . Being objective is important because you will have deals that go sour, clients who are upset, or people who say no to you; it’s inevitable. It’s important not to take the negatives to heart and use them as learning experiences instead of an excuse to throw in the towel. Being objective also means being vigilant. Don’t compromise your business strategy or lower prices simply to get clients. Sometimes you need to take your emotions out of the equation and focus on your bottom line. Being empathetic doesn’t mean running at a loss. You cannot feel sorry for others thinking they can’t afford your product etc., focus on yourself and your business first!
2. Look the part
Being a woman in business does not mean you have to act or look like a man. Femininity is an added advantage to looking the part of a business woman, and that’s exactly what female entrepreneurs are striving to be, a business woman not a business man. Pant suits are great but remember to maintain your femininity and be true to yourself as a female. As a woman it’s important to present a polished and professional image; taking time to do your hair and make up is all part of presenting such an image. As women we do have a large array of attire options, so choose wisely. Don’t choose dresses or outfits simply to look extra feminine, girly, or sexy. Make choices that suit your personality but keep it professional. Don’t get lost in your clothes, you want people to see you as the whole package and clothing is just one component of it. As Coco Chanel said “Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.”
3. Trust your instincts
In the business world many people will try to advise you and attempt to sway your opinion in a myriad of different directions. You may have clients, potential clients, mentors, or even business partners who try to advise you. As an entrepreneur you need to stand your ground and go with your gut. If you feel a business deal isn’t a good fit, or that something just isn’t right, chances are they probably aren’t. Don’t let others influence your decisions in business. It’s great to have mentors and advisors but the ultimate decisions should be made by you alone. Having the confidence to make your own decisions and stand by them is what sets successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest.
4. Support your competitors
Running a business is not a solo sport. Every business belongs to a specific industry. Ultimately the strength and appeal of your industry determines your bottom line. Helping out someone in the same game may seem a little crazy, but supporting competitors helps build up your industry. Avoid badmouthing competitors and mudslinging. Although the business world is cut throat, being the bigger person and sharing industry specific insight will not only help you but help your industry on the whole. If you are fortunate enough to have an overload of clients you can refer some to your competitors. They will remember the good deed later on. Helping your competitors also gives you leverage within your industry, if you ever do need a favor you certainly have something to back up your ask. Forming an industry specific forum or support group is a great way to get your competitors involved and share ideas and insight. Remember to look at your business as just one piece of the puzzle within your industry. Sharing opinions and perspectives never hurt anyone. You don’t need to share your trade secrets but sharing your knowledge and insight can be beneficial.
5. Don’t be the smartest person in the room
As a business woman you need to be open minded. Being knowledgeable about your chosen field is always a good thing but don’t assume you know everything. Be inquisitive at networking events or lunches, ask questions about others and the work they do. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and from whom you can learn. You can even learn from your competitors. Experience within a certain field is a great asset but being an entrepreneur is a continuous learning experience. There’s always something new to learn or new ideas to hear about. Avoid dominating conversations and trying to get your opinion across. True intelligence comes from knowing when to speak up and when to be silent and simply listen. Listening more than you talk is key to making connections and gaining insight.
Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world. She can be reached via Website, Twitter, Facebook or her Blog.