It’s 2018 and the previously male-dominated business scene is finally starting to shift. According to a recent report, there are over 11 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., and that number is steadily climbing. In fact, women-owned businesses are growing five times faster than the national average!
Whether you’re thinking about starting your own business or looking for some ideas to help boost your already existing company, these tips below from a few successful business-women will hopefully inspire and challenge the next generation of small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Prioritize service, and the rest will follow.
Oprah Winfrey, media mogul and businesswoman extraordinaire, is among the world’s richest and most successful entrepreneurs. She doesn’t consider “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to be a business venture. Instead, she emphasizes how she constantly views it as a service. She attributes her success to having a service-based approach. “We were the No. 1 show for 25 years, and that’s because I lived with the intention of serving the audience,” Winfrey says.
The goal was to give her audience relevant and inspiring content to “help people better understand themselves.” Oprah conducted more than 37,000 interviews over 25 years on her show- and drew in people to her show because she was doing more than just simply listening. “I had to learn to feel with others, which is what it means to be compassionate,” she says.
If you ever watched her show, you’d know that she was a cultural beacon of inspiration on several fronts. She constantly showcased stories of perseverance, success, and healing; segments that gave hope to millions of devoted fans.
Confidence is your most valuable asset.
Many female entrepreneurs compare themselves to other successful businesswomen and think, “I don’t have the confidence that they do.” The key is to build your confidence by taking action.
At 27, Sara Blakely started Spanx, the pantyhose company for women. One day before a work function, Sara cut off the legs on her stockings to wear under her white pants for a more flattering look. It was in doing this that Sara realized the need for a new undergarment product for women, and Spanx was born.
At the start of this new business venture, Sara only had $5,000. She knew next to nothing about this new concept; Sara didn’t know about patenting a product, manufacturing, marketing, product development, website development, or online commerce. But, she didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her goal. She studied what she needed to learn, she hired people to do the things that she knew she couldn’t do, and she pushed forward with steadfast commitment and determination.
Sara’s advice (https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2012/05/23/10-lessons-i-learned-from-sara-blakely-that-you-wont-hear-in-business-school/#44d712331438) is simple but poignant; “Believe in your idea, trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to fail. It took me two years from the time I had the idea for Spanx until the time I had a product on hand ready to sell into stores. Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”
Chase what works. Let go of what doesn’t.
“School wasn’t my jam… true success lies in knowing your weaknesses and playing to your strengths. In short, when you suck at something and don’t want it anyway, cut your losses and move on.”
Sophia Amoruso, founder, and CEO of cult online retailer Nasty Gal reveals her secrets of success in her popular book, #GIRLBOSS. She is a terrific example of building an empire from scratch. After being diagnosed with depression, she dropped out of school and spent her youth at what she describes as “speed dating, but for jobs.” After a string of random, uninspiring jobs, a health scare, Sophia bought a copy of Starting an eBay Business for Dummies. It was through this outlet that she found her love of selling vintage clothes on eBay.
In 2013, Inc. Magazine added her to it’s 30 under 30 lists (https://www.inc.com/30-under-30 ). Today, Nasty Gal’s net worth is estimated to be $280 million. The moral of Sophia’s story, if you’re pursuing a path that you absolutely do not love, find another one.
Remember that there is power in how you handle adversity.
Sooner or later, you are going to face adversity. The key lies in remembering that adversity presents an opportunity, and a chance to truly show what you’re made of.
Roxanne Oulman, Executive Vice President at Callidus Software, recalls one of her mentor’s advice on adversity. “She was a strong and determined leader. She would tell me to “always hold your shin high as people will remember how you handle adversity.’ That has stayed with me throughout my career. There are always challenges and obstacles, and success is determined by how you handle them. Pull yourself up and fight your way through it.”
Never, ever, ever limit yourself.
In addition to removing organizational barriers that prevent women from making it to the top, we also need to eliminate ‘cultural norms’ that can limit women’s careers. For instance, this means encouraging more women and girls to learn to code and immerse themselves in the technical side of the business. “The hurdles of finding the technology marketers are still very much present,” Marie says. Her advice as a CMO: “Learn both the technology and processes needed for company and individual success.”
When we dispel these perceived limitations, we see what happens when female entrepreneurs are fearless: “In my late twenties, I realized that you get to define your career and what it means to be successful,” says Deepa. “Once I realized that there was no playbook and no expectations other than my own, I began to really dig in and make things happen.”
When women are empowered to be leaders and contribute at a higher level, companies thrive — meaning this is not just a women’s issue; it’s everyone’s problem, and everyone should feel empowered to address it. Marie tells the story of her early days at Apple, a turning point in her career when a team of HR representatives “bucked the norm” to take on disparity between pay, managerial levels, and leadership mentoring: “So many of the mentors I had the opportunity to work with were great male leaders who cared to make the difference,” she says. “We all have to work together to make change happen.” And working together drives lasting results: “From the efforts of our group, strong mentoring programs were put into place for women.”
Though our society has come a long way, with more and more companies taking on issues of gender discrimination and pay gaps, there’s still plenty of progress to be made in order to bring this conversation to its final resting place. “Gender equality should become a non-issue,” says Roxanne. “Our daughters and sons should see the other gender as equally capable of accomplishing anything, and surprised the world saw it differently in the not-so-distant past.”
Join the conversation, mentor others, be loud and proud about your accomplishments, and let’s make the path of entrepreneurial success seem like the most natural path imaginable for the next generation of aspiring females!
the woman on the background of business people –DepositPhotos