1. Stay Focused On Your Business Journey
Women entrepreneurs often spend too much time worrying about the competition, and not enough time focusing on what makes their business more attractive to customers in the marketplace. It’s a common trait, but one that needs to be avoided. Competition is a reality, but how you approach it is what sets you apart in business. Celebrate what makes you and your business unique, and remember that no other company or entrepreneur has your story, so leverage that fact with your customers. Acknowledge that we live and operate in a new economy, one that celebrates sharing and collaboration, so perhaps instead of seeing other entrepreneurs as competition, explore whether there is the opportunity to share expertise and collaborate to win new business. And importantly, stop comparing your efforts and results with those of other entrepreneurs. Everyone has a different business building journey they are on, so learn from others, celebrate and be inspired by other entrepreneurs’ success, and focus on your own journey. It’s a mind-shift that is needed, but one that is worth the effort.
2. Keep Reinvesting In Your Business
Many successful entrepreneurs will tell you that their businesses have grown and been sustainable over the years because they have taken conscious decisions to live frugally in the startup years and reinvest back into the businesses. It’s a wise strategy to adopt, particularly because so often one of the biggest challenges facing fledgling businesses is managing cashflows at critical times, and ensuring there is always a source of critical capital available when the business needs it most. But the temptation is always there in any startup business to take cash out in the moment, instead of reinvesting it for the longer term. So take some advice on this subject from one of the most successful women entrepreneurs on the African continent, Divine Ndhlukula, founder of Securico Security Services in Zimbabwe, one of the country’s most successful businesses. She says, “Don’t be tempted to take cash out of your early-stage startup venture….when a bit of cash starts rolling in, have the discipline to know that it is not your money yet. It is still the business’s money because you want the business to grow. So for you to sustain it and enjoy phenomenal growth, that anyone going into business wants, you need to reinvest all the little bits of cash that you get then you can be assured that your business will grow.” Great words of advice!
3. Transparency And Trust Are Essential To Success In Business
Building trust in your business, particularly amongst your employees, is a critical foundation stone for success. As the founder of your business, it’s so important that those around you have trust in you, your judgment, and your leadership. When your employees, your shareholders, your suppliers, and your customers trust you, they are more likely to engage with the business. And that’s where transparency comes in – if as the founder of the business you are transparent in your leadership and your decision-making, then that in turn will inspire those around you to adopt your values in their own working lives. It’s really all a matter of practicing what you preach. It sends a message that openness, sharing, and collaboration are all core values in your business and ones that are adopted from the top down in the business. So if you want everyone to join you on this entrepreneurial journey and fully engage in all aspects of the business, then transparency is key to building that all essential trust that is needed for success.
4. Collaborate To Open New Business Opportunities
In an ultra-competitive business environment where the challenges for women entrepreneurs trying to break through into key markets still exist, collaboration could be the key to generating stronger business outcomes. Collaborative, win-win partnerships with like-minded women can open up new business opportunities, strengthen business offerings, put additional power behind pitch situations, and ultimately speed up growth. When thinking about embarking on any partnership arrangement, many women entrepreneurs voice concerns about trust – they worry about potential partners possibly stealing their ideas, poaching their customers and their employees. But ultimately, successful partnerships are built on trust and loyalty, and it should be remembered that behind every successful company and entrepreneur, there is a network of supporters, strategic partners, and mentors. They appreciate the power of partnerships to bring something fresh to the business table, to fill the gaps where key skills and experience are needed. That’s why women entrepreneurs should perhaps look to complementary partnerships being the smart business decision to make.
5. Managing How Life And Work Merge
We all know that the life of an entrepreneur is not for everyone, that’s why it is very much a lifestyle choice when embarking on the journey to build a business. When friends and family around you are working 9-5, you are working all hours of the day to make things happen in your business. When others are planning vacations, you are planning how to take your next trip to meet a client and hopefully bring in the next big client. When friends are hanging out in a bar or restaurant as part of their relaxation time, you are at networking events, mixing with fellow entrepreneurs and making valuable future contacts. In the crazy world of entrepreneurship, life and work merge together – the secret is making it work for you so that you can enjoy both facets of your lifestyle choice.