What do JK Rowling, Vera Wang, Martha Stewart, Kylie Jenner and Lady Gaga have in common? They’re some of the most successful female entrepreneurs on the planet. Oprah Winfrey, a female founder that needs no introduction, is one of the world’s biggest household brand names and runs a media empire that continues to grow. Whitney Herd, the founder and CEO of Bumble, recently became the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire when her company went public.
Why Aren't Their More Female Founders?
With women shattering glass ceilings around the world and across industries, why aren’t there more women going down an entrepreneurial route? What limits growth prospects for those who do? As an aspiring female founder, what can you do to build a successful brand and take your business to the next level?
Women-Led Startups Received Just 2.3% of VC Funding in 2020
An analysis of multiple female-founded businesses that don’t make it big shows that one of the most common problems faced includes a shortage of funding. The startup company aggregator platform ‘Crunchbase’ reports that while 40% of all entrepreneurs in the US are women, female-founded and mixed co-founded companies received only 9% of the total venture capital investment deployed last year! Other problems face by women entrepreneurs typically include fighting more biases or sexism at work as compared to their male counterparts, struggling with burnout due to multiple responsibilities including childcare, and having a lack of confidence in themselves.
No matter your gender, age, geography or background, launching your own business is always a risky proposition, but it’s also one with the highest rewards. So, remember to keep these common pitfalls in mind and develop solutions for them from a short-term and a long-term perspective as you craft your growth strategies!
As you take the plunge into launching your own business or expanding it to a new market, here are a few suggestions to help you on your journey. While some of these are useful pointers for anyone looking to build their business venture, some additional tips include guidance on specifically what to do as a female entrepreneur.
1 – Test your business idea quickly for viability
In getting out to the market, speed is everything. You can spend months or even years refining your concept on paper, but the only way to truly know what works is by getting out there, testing your idea on-ground and receiving feedback from actual customers. A minimum viable product, or MVP, is a product with enough features to attract early-adopter customers and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle. Be confident, believe in what you’ve created, and go for it!
2 – Keep an eye on the numbers and plan your funding well
Raising funds isn’t easy for any entrepreneur, but it is even more important as a woman to fundraise with determination. Whether you’re quitting your job to launch your own venture, or you’ve taken a break in your career and are getting back to work with your own firm, believe in your idea and do whatever it takes to get it off the ground, and manage your funds well.
3 – Be yourself
If you know and believe in what you stand for, there is no reason not to back it with all you’ve got. This holds true even while you present yourself and your idea to the world – to potential investors, customers, business partners, vendors and even to employees. Own your identity and be yourself.
4 – Have a unique or clearly superior offering
The best way to stand out in the marketplace is to by offering something no one else is, or by offering something that is so good that no one else can match it. Do your homework, position your product or service well, and you’re on the right track. This accelerate the time it takes to a product market fit for new venture.
5 – Iterate quickly and experiment often, with as little money as possible
No business succeeds without continuous improvement in their offerings. While it’s important to keep the speed to launch in mind, its equally important to inculcate in your team a mindset of repeated iterations for continuous growth.
6 – You don’t have to go it alone - build a great team
Many women choose to be the ‘lone shero’. However, the best businesses require the best teams. Invest in building a fantastic team – you never know who will help you elevate your business to the next level or where your next big idea will come from!
7 – Be smart enough to ask for help
It is said that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. So hire the smartest people, and truly listen to what they have to say. Reach out to the best mentors and ask them for advice. You’ll soon see the impact of this on yourself, and on your company.
With these quick pointers, you’re ready to begin your journey!
To quote Oprah, “With every experience, you are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.”
As you empower yourselves on your respective journeys, don’t forget to show your support and solidarity for women everywhere! Raise your hand high to show you’re in, and that you commit to choose to challenge and call out inequality. How will you help forge a gender equal world? Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.