The late, but oh so great, poet Maya Angelou wrote the powerful poem “Still I Rise” which explores the struggle and eventual overcoming of prejudice and injustice from a women’s point of view -- especially a woman of color. Written by a woman and for women, “Still I Rise” has become a powerful anthem for women of all walks of life.
In one of the poem’s opening verses, Angelou writes:
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
And, just like the moons and suns in Angelou’s powerful verse, women entrepreneurs continue to rise. Female entrepreneurship has skyrocketed over the last 15 years and Inc. magazine has even cited 2018 “The Year of the Woman”.
Statistics support this declaration as USC Marshall School of Business reports that women-owned firms have grown by 1.5 times the rate of other small enterprises and female small business owners will create an estimated five to 5.5 million new jobs nationwide this year alone.
Yet, despite the picture of promise painted by some business publications, many women entrepreneurs still face unique obstacles on their path towards owning and running a successful business. Maybe it’s the “boys club” culture that still pervades many industries, or maybe it’s a lack of exposure to education and resources. Nevertheless, while these obstacles pose unique challenges, they are nothing but that -- just obstacles that can be overcome.
If you’re a woman who’s looking to start her own business but aren’t sure how to kick it off, or maybe you’ve started your entrepreneurial journey and you’re feeling a bit stuck, here are some tips that may help you to continue on your path to success:
Winston Churchill said it best: "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." Failure is just part of the journey, but it’s what you do after a failure that’s most important. Women are usually hit harder by a failure at something; but don’t let it shake your confidence, embrace it and learn from it. There will be a lot of failures on your path towards success in business; but they are simply lessons that will help push you towards success.
Remember that knowledge is power. The more you learn about your industry, product, trade, and/or competition, the more value you bring to the market. Always be open to new information and cognizant of how it can help your business. There are myriad resources that you can access information: the internet, podcasts, books, online classes, speaking events, webinars, and more. Seek out the information that will help you advance your business!
Become an Expert
Following up on gaining knowledge, becoming an expert in your industry will only solidify your value. Positioning yourself as an expert or “thought leader” will help to establish you and your company as the leader within your industry. Try scheduling speaking events, blogging, and expanding your public relations footprint.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for It!
One of the biggest challenges facing women, especially young women entrepreneurs, can be asking for help. Oftentimes, we feel like we have to “do it all” either because we feel like we have to for it to be done right, or because we aren’t comfortable asking for help. Sometimes asking for help is wrongfully perceived as a weakness, but in fact it’s a strength -- especially when there are so many resources available at our fingertips. Looking for loans for women entrepreneurs? Apply for one. Looking to improve your website? Seek out advice from a colleague or attend a class. In other words: apply yourself and ask for it. This principle also applies to your daily habits. When you encounter a challenge, reach out to your network: whether they’re friends, family, or colleagues they may provide the vital information you need to move forward with your business. Improving your daily habits will help you in the long run.
Be a Social Butterfly
In other words: network, network, network! The key to building a business is relationships. The key to building relationships is meeting people. How to do you meet people? Networking. Sometimes networking can seem arduous, but it’s necessary to getting you and your product or service out in the public eye. After all, you can’t do it alone, so it’s best to build a reliable network that will help to elevate you and your business.
Be Forward Thinking
The key to growing a business it to always be thinking ahead; this is also a key component of strong leadership. Where do you see your company in five, ten years? Keeping a forward-thinking mentality will help you to stay focused on growth.
There are many funding sources specifically targeted to helping women entrepreneurs. Some of these funding sources are loans and some are grants. Check out these websites for more information: Grants.gov, EILEEN FISHER Women-Owned Business Grant, the Amber Grant, the IdeaCafe grant, the GirlBoss grant, the Cartier Womens Initiative, GrantsforWomen.org, Fedex Small Business Grant, and the Halstead Grant. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has many different SBA loan programs to help women start businesses.
Entrepreneurship is not an easy road for anyone -- whether you’re a man or a woman. And while gender disparity in business is a real issue, it’s not impossible to overcome. As women rise in the workplace and as independent business owners, they continue to blaze paths for future generations of women who are looking to do the same. Just as Ms. Angelou said, no matter the obstacle, “Still [we] rise”.
For more information about getting your dream business started, visit Delaware Business Incorporators, Inc. or call us at 1-800-423-2993 or 302-996-5819.