We have been conducting interviews with successful women entrepreneurs over the last few months. We were trying to determine what practices they employ to build their success. Why do they succeed when others fail? As business development strategists, what advice should we give our clients who are embarking on new entrepreneurial adventures? After interviewing over 40 women leaders so far, we are finding striking patterns.
Yes, these female entrepreneurs have passion for the work they pursue, and most have aligned their passion with their talents. But there are distinct characteristics that they hold which makes them more likely to succeed. Building a business is hard work—there is no way around that fact. Building a business requires continued discipline and focus. Successful women entrepreneurs know that by keeping their eyes on the prize as they lean into their work, the payoff is worth the effort. In addition, here are five distinct patterns that are emerging from our research.
Successful women entrepreneurs are not risk adverse.
It takes guts to start a business. Leaving the comfort of a regular paycheck and embarking on a journey where pay is not a forgone conclusion—at least at the start—can be frightening. Yet these women have a strong sense of self-belief and are willing to step out of their comfort zone. If an initial plan doesn’t succeed, there is always Plan B. These female leaders see risk as a necessary challenge where the rewards outweigh any loss. Many of these interviewees have left the corporate world because they felt stymied and unable to utilize their full potential. Taking a risk is perceived as a change for greater self-satisfaction.
They build their business structure around their schedule requirements
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur—male or female—you must be willing to construct an organizational structure that works for you. In the corporate world, the organizational structure is established for the workforce. Employees know the workplace rules and know how to accomplish their work responsibilities. They show up and follow a work schedule. Female entrepreneurs are different. They made it quite clear that they develop their business structure to align with their personal schedule requirements. If they want to participate in their children’s events, for example, the business structure is created to accommodate. If they want to work form home, they construct a work environment to accommodate. To females more so than males, flexibility is key. Because of their requirement for flexibility, successful women entrepreneurs don’t follow a path designed by others; they’re quite comfortable forging their own.
They are problem solvers and continually remove bottlenecks as they present themselves.
In order to succeed in an entrepreneurial endeavor, you must be comfortable with and proficient in problem solving. You’ve got to be able to figure things out. That phase, “I’ll figure it out,” was repeated by many of the women I interviewed. We found that being a proficient problem solver allows these women to continually remove bottlenecks as they occur as their businesses developed. As one condition is solved in a business, another situation arises—and these women know this.
They work to build their sense of control, which leads to their self-confidence.
These women leaders have a strong desire to control their own destiny. These women have chosen not to work for someone else—often for a variety of reasons. These successful entrepreneurs have found that they want to be their own boss and are developing a self-reliance on their own decision-making. Building their own businesses allows them to be more in control of their lives, and the decisions they make are reflective of their growing self-confidence.
Women entrepreneurs make it a priority to network
Many of the women entrepreneurs emphasized that networking is very important for growing their businesses. Through networking, they form important relationships with other business owners. Networking events allow them to expand their ability to identify new customers, cultivate referrals and become known. Often business responsibilities keep them in their workplace but using networking as a marketing strategy continues to be a strong return on their investment.
Choosing to become an entrepreneur can be an exciting and rewarding career path. Utilizing the wisdom of these successful women entrepreneurs can make the path a little smoother.
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