In launching my new Breakthrough Vision Marketing division that offers women entrepreneurs, consultants, writers, and practitioners marketing support to achieve success in their ventures, I’ve discovered some telling statistics about the success entrepreneurial women have achieved thus far, and the challenges women continue to face in creating financial success in their endeavors.
Some key stats on women entrepreneurs:
- Between 1997 and 2006, women-owned firms grew nearly twice the rate of all U.S. firms
- It was as recently as 1974 that women got the right have business credit in their own names
- Of the 10.5 million women-owned businesses, only 3% are at $1 million in revenue in contrast to 6% of male-owned businesses.
- Only 20% of US Companies with $1 million or more in revenue are women owned.
About entrepreneurial ventures:
- Most business experts conform to a theory of “thirds”: Of all the new business startups, 1/3 eventually turn a profit, 1/3 break even, and 1/3 never leave a negative earnings scenario.
- Other research shows that only 2/3 of all small business startups survive the first two years and less than half make it to four years.
Are women different from men in entrepreneurial ventures? Research has shown there are differences in:
2) Expectations for the business
3) Goals and Motivations (males more likely to start businesses to make money and achieve recognition; women emphasize balance with family)
4) Prior business experience
5) Risk tolerance (lower for women)
6) Active pursuit of ongoing business opportunities
7) Type of business formed (males are more likely to form more technologically-intensive businesses
The top challenges for women entrepreneurs are:
1) Financial Planning experience and focus
2) Thinking big enough to delegate, hire, and grow (giving up complete control and fearing what growth means)
3) Overcoming reluctance to self promote
Five Step Plan to a Successful Entrepreneurial Venture
In reviewing the research available on entrepreneurial success for women, and in thinking about the research I’ve conducted over the past six years on the 12 hidden crises working women face today, I believe there are 5 core areas that are vitally important for entrepreneurial women to master. If women (and men) ignore these areas in their businesses, failure is far more likely:
Focus on the 5 “M’s”
(Click here for a look at my recent interview on News 12 CT on the “5 M’s” for Women’s Entrepreneurial Success).
Step 1: MANAGEMENT – Know What’s Required to Manage Your Business Successfully
The terrific book The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber talks about three different roles that are essential in creating a successful business – Technician, Manager, and the Visionary. Often women who start their businesses do so because they have a love of the technical skill involved (baking, career coaching, software design, etc.) and they make the fatal assumption that having an understanding the technical aspects of the business is the same as knowing how to run the business. These are completely different skill sets, and you must extricate yourself from a sole focus on the technical service (being “in” the business””) and focus more “on” the business – what’s involved in building it to the level you want it.
Key tactic – Focus more time “on” the business than “in” the business. Develop a sound business plan with S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) goals and strategies that will help you get your business to the next level.
Step 2: MONEY – Get Empowered with Money, Financial Planning and Budgeting
Many women entrepreneurs start a business with little understanding of the financial investment required, the financial planning steps necessary to build success, or how long it will take to make a business profitable. The first key step is to gain complete control of your finances – first personally, then professionally – and plan how you will fund and grow your business. Get outside help in the form of an empowering financial consultant and accountant to advise you. Don’t try to do this alone – gain an outside perspective about your money, and funding of the business. In general, you need a reserve of money for two full years while you launch a business, as most likely you won’t see profits until after several years. Many people fail to plan for how long it takes for a business to be profitable.
Key tactic: Create a strong budget and financial plan for your business that you monitor and assess vigilantly, on a monthly basis, with key milestones. Find an empowered outside financial consultant and accountant who come highly recommend to you by other empowered and successful women entrepreneurs to help.
Step 3: MARKETING – Understand the New Rules of Marketing
The world has changed. Marketing is no longer about hawking your services or wares to a group of people who are unknown to you (cold calling, direct mail to unsolicited names, etc). It’s about building trust and credibility, and developing relationships through authentic connection and engagement, over time.
People do business today with people they know, like, and trust.
Key tactic: Create a multi-pronged marketing strategy that builds relationships, trust, and credibility over time with your potential customers and clients. Serve them in different ways and means that allow customers/clients to connect with you at various levels, price points, and engagement entry points. Then and only then will they buy or do business with you, when the time is right for them.
Step 3: Mastery – Master an understanding of what’s required to succeed in the various aspects of the business.
There are many different dimensions that must be mastered to run a successful entrepreneurial venture, including:
– Financial planning
– Product development
– Human resources/staffing
– Business Development
In areas in which you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable, you must reach out and get help or hire it.
Key tactic: Connect with resources that support women entrepreneurs, such as Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, SCORE, Small Business Administration, CT Women’s Business Development Center – there are scores of affordable sources of help in our area to assist you in building a strong foundation for your business. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get the help you need.
Step 5: MISSION: Find your passion and your calling in this work
It’s a hero’s journey to become a successful entrepreneur or solopreneur and have the staying power and energy to make it work over several years when the going is toughest. There has to be compelling mission behind your work and a calling to be of service, and to do it well — and make a profit in the process. This is not a volunteer endeavor – this is a business that you wish to become highly profitable and lucrative – so that you can have the largest impact possible. And you must know your core, competitive advantage – what makes your business different and how it stands out from the rest – and communicate that powerfully in all you do. If you’re not passionate about this work, think again about launching your business.
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Think about your mastery of the “5 M’s.” Are you focused on these areas? What areas do you feel most challenged in? You’re not alone – we all struggle with areas outside of our comfort zones.
Do you feel confident that you have the skills and expertise to take your business to the next level? If not, don’t wait to get the help you need and want. Knowing when we need help — and taking empowered action to get it — is the critical difference between achieving the success you want, and letting your potential slip through your fingers.
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