5 Business Tips for female entrepreneurs

1. GET STARTED

Plan, do your business plan and work out your financials, but the most important of all of these is actually STARTING! EXECUTE, GET GOING. START!!!

2. DEVELOP THE ENTREPRENEUR MINDSET

Enjoy that first “glow” of success with the first big orders but never lose sight of the bottom line and your goals. Don’t let your ego get carried away and stay focused. Above all, HAVE FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF. You can do it.

3. FEEL THE BURN AND START TO FEEL SUCCESS

The first “burn” or failure or fall is not BAD. Once you pick yourself up from the mistake and start to learn from it, you have the makings of success!

4. FIND YOUR USP

Find your unique selling point and then hammer this home to all and sundry. Use every marketing tool available and become an expert on social media marketing. It is your biggest FREE tool!

5. ALWAYS, ALWAYS BE INNOVATIVE

Entrepreneurs always look for the next opportunity and your business has to be innovative and agile to survive. Be a social ninja. Be curious and have fun with it!

Using social media in your business

CONNECT

The internet could be called “The Connect”. We are all connected 24/7. Your business can no longer afford to stand apart from the digital revolution. Social media is here to stay. The conversation will go on, with you or without you, so be part of it and get connected.

I have included links here to getting started with a business account/account on each of the main social sites. Get started with TWITTER, FACEBOOK, TUMBLR, LINKED-IN, and PINTEREST and see where connections take you and your business! There are lots more articles on MASHABLE, TECHCRUNCH and HUBSPOT for further information.

CHAT!

The old ways of marketing are dying. Brands and businesses still need to think about their values and the “tone of voice” of the brand but of supreme importance in this new digital world is the TRANSPARENT, HONEST and AGILE voice of the socially connected brand. Consumers want to interact with brands and they want to do it NOW. This is a grew opportunity for SME’s who can be social ninjas compared to their slower larger competitors. 

Get started by talking WITH your customers instead of AT them. This will result in valuable feedback from valued customers, which is the breeding ground for adjustment and innovation – the tools of the social entrepreneur. The goal is to be a LOVED brand – loving your customers and they loving your brand in return.

CREATE REMARKABLE CONTENT

The wonderful team at Hubspot coined the phrase “Inbound Marketing” and their book will tell any social entrepreneur how to create remarkable content. Buy it here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inbound-Marketing-Google-Social-Series/dp/0470499311/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346275904&sr=8-1 (guys, you can thank me later!!). Seriously, it is invaluable for any SME. In a nutshell, blog, blog and blog some more, curtesy of WordPress. Click away photos to your hearts content on Instagram and pin everything on Pinterest!

LINKED-IN

Optimise and reach out! I wrote a blog a while back on optimising your linked-in profile here.

Reach out to everyone that is in your industry in your town and across the world. Go global, baby! Thats the beauty of Linked-In! Reach out politely and with grace and see what happens. The sky is the limit. It is a wonderful business tool. Enjoy!

PINTEREST

Pin, pin and pin some more! I wrote a blog yesterday about this site here. It is the fastest growing site since Facebook and your brand/business HAS to be on it. Have a read of the article and get pinning!

And watch out, your customers might get addicted to your pins, tweets, pics!

Surrendering to Social Media: Is It Addiction?
Learn about infographic design.

 

Is female entrepreneurship the key to economic recovery?

Are Women Entrepreneurs the key to Economic Recovery?

“We’re comin’ out of the kitchen’ Cause there’s somethin’ we forgot to say to you (we say) Sisters are doin’ it for themselves. Standin’ on their own two feet. And ringin’ on their own bells. Sisters are doin’ it for themselves………”

As Annie Lennox sang, sisters are coming out of the kitchen and we are indeed doing it for ourselves! More and more women are choosing to start up their own businesses, often from home using the internet and often with families. The flexibility of being your own boss whilst raising a young family is appealing especially in these times of recession. Also, it is a necessity for a lot of women, who need to make money and may be unemployed with or without children.

However, the numbers of female entrepreneurs are still comparatively low. Women are still lag behind on men in start-up activity and their companies tend not to grow as quickly as male companies.

Often, this problem is seen as a “women’s issue”. However, this is not the case. Raising the levels of female entrepreneurship, both start-ups and growth, is an economic issue. FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS NOT AN EQUALITY ISSUE BUT AN ECONOMIC ISSUE. Why? Well, it is well established that start-ups, particularly those in high-growth areas, are essential for job creation and economic growth. Female entrepreneurs are our hidden and untapped resource for economic recovery. If we can get more females starting up high growth businesses, we could well all be on the road to economic recovery.

Female Entrepreneurship as a driver for Global Economic Recovery

A recent paper by the Kauffman Foundation “Overcoming the Gender Gap: Women Entrepreneurs as Economic Drivers,” has suggested that getting more females to start up high growth businesses could the the key to GLOBAL economic recovery. That is simply incredible.

What makes this paper very interesting indeed is that it explores “the intersection of two issues that are thought of separately: the need for sustained economic growth {in the United States}, and the status of women’s entrepreneurship.” This intersection applies the world over.

The report’s author, Lesa Mitchell, reports:

“Women’s entrepreneurship is an economic issue, not a gender-equity issue,” Mitchell said. “As more women engage as entrepreneurs to build on their discoveries, new jobs and economic prosperity will follow.”

Sadly, this report, as well as many others, highlights that female entrepreneurship really is an untapped resource at present. We simply need to get MORE women starting up businesses and GROWING them; particularly in high-growth sectors.

The above paper explores the reasons behind lower business startup rates among women and suggests steps that would help to get more female entrepreneurs to realise their potential and in turn help to turn around the economy.

Kauffman Foundation  – Steps to boost female entrepreneurship

The report details the under noted steps that should be taken to address the low numbers of female entrepreneurs:

1. Role Models

We need as many successful female entrepreneurs and inventors as we can, to stand up and shout about their successes. In this world of  celebrity culture, let’s start to focus on the “celebrity female entrepreneur”! As a new entrepreneur, I would always look to other successful entrepreneurs and their stories to fire me up and keep me going. But more needs to be done. There is a CULTURAL DISCONNECT between the successful female entrepreneurs and their protégées. Not only do we need to see more positive female business role models in the press etc, I would propose that we need to give more support to the powerful SOCIAL NETWORKS that link the role models with their “students”. Social networks know no geographical boundaries and are extremely accessible. They are also extremely viral and allow for the rapid dissemination of information. There are a lot of networks out there that are pro female entrepreneurs and we need to support them and help them to grow.

2. Technology

The report states very clearly that one of the steps should be to invite more women to join the science advisory boards of high-tech companies. This step relates to Life Sciences/Tech faculties, where there is a huge disparity between the numbers of women producing research and those that end up commercialising that research and/or serving on the science advisory boards of high tech companies; thereby not exposing themselves to the same commercial/industry networks and contacts. This is a very specialist step and is a very important step.

I think that that we need to get more women involved in high- growth tech per se. Technology itself is liberating and maybe as a more generalist step, we need to encourage more women to get into gaming/tech/life sciences. Technology allowed me to start-up my business from my dining-room and does the same for women all over the world. Technology can and should be like bread-and-butter for female entrepreneurs!

Educating more women to use and advance technology is key. Again, we need to rethink the CULTURE surrounding technology and find ways to encourage women to get involved in starting-up technology businesses.

3. Not-for-profit initiatives to connect female start-up entrepreneurs with big companies

This step is the one that really excites me the most. The report has the under noted recommendation:

“Not-for-profit initiatives advancing opportunities for high-growth women entrepreneurs need greater funding and skin in the game from women executives, philanthropy leaders, and industry. Support of networking and collaborative events between startup founders and big companies are critical for all entrepreneurs, but even more critical for women and underserved minorities that do not have the same access to networks that can provide them their first customers. We need to expand programs like Astia, NewMe, Founder Fridays, Women 2.0, Kauffman FastTrac®, and myriad other not-for-profits focused on providing education and networks for high-growth women entrepreneurs”.

Again, this goes back to the idea of high growth SOCIAL NETWORKS that not only link female entrepreneur role models with start-ups but exposes those start-up entrepreneurs to much bigger companies. This recommendation also underlines the need for such social networks to include men as well as women, i.e. Astia above.  All of the above networks are amazing and a lot of them are focused on tech but they are not really within the reach of female entrepreneurs in the UK.

In the UK, we have the following networks to name a but a few and they are all amazing; powerful, inspiring and informative – The Next WomenWomen UnlimitedEvery WomanWomen’s Enterprise Scotland, Mumpreneur UK. However the question remains –  do we need a UK not-for-profit, social network that is focused on technology that links founders with the much larger companies? Again, addressing this involves a CULTURAL swing that embraces more female entrepreneurs in tech.

In any event, there is not a single solution to this issue. We also need to gather better data on the numbers of females starting up businesses, perhaps we even need to look at supplier diversity, as they do in the U.S.? There is one thing for sure though – there is a gender gap in entrepreneurship at the moment but that fact doesn’t make this a gender issue. As Mitchell has said,  female entrepreneurship is NOT a gender issue – it is purely economic.

How do I do it – Two Full-time Jobs………Mamapreneur and Mama!

I woke up this morning with the stunning realisation that I have two full-time jobs – my babies and my business. This realisation hit me like a brick and is a truth that I have been ignoring for some time now. How do I do it ( as the book/film goes)? The reality is that I don’t really know and it is a world of chaos most of the time. I am not alone in this dilemma and indeed, if we are to encourage more women to start up businesses, we need to address this issue. I thought it would be *fun* to share my thoughts……

Travel

Going ANYWHERE with a five year old and a three year old is not easy. Every journey involves at least one grump and one tantrum (on a good day!). I used to think that I was good at negotiating as a lawyer…..no, that was nothing compared to being a mamapreneur! I negotiate with my two on a constant basis. As they get older, their arguments are more and more sophisticated; law firms of the world take note.

Food Shopping

Ah, the delights of food shopping with young children. We have all seen the advert of the mum throwing the tantrum in the shopping aisle. That about covers it. Therefore, one now reverts to internet shopping. Wonderful! However, a plea to the Sainsburys/Waitrose/Tesco’s of this world. Can you put a big, fat button on the online shop which says repeat last order without me having to do it all again? That would be wonderful, thank you!

Memory

*baby brain* has nothing on mamapreneur brain. I have no memory cells left. When visiting a bookshop,  I can be found wandering around the Self Improvement section, wistfully eyeing up the *Improve Your Memory* books! iPhone/ipad helps as does numerous pads of paper scattered around house but its a constant battle!

Meditation

I have read all about meditation and its benefits, I kind of know how to do it, how to sit, what to wear (v important!), candles, setting etc. So do I do it? No. I don’t. When it comes to the crunch, I lie down *to meditate* and crash out. Note to self – execution is key – meditate baby!

Working after kids have gone to bed

These are the hours after the children have finally drifted off to sleep. These are the hours that I imagine during the day. I will be full of energy. Ready to hop on to the laptop and work away like the inspired entrepreneur that I am! What happens in reality? I am deadbeat tired by 8pm. So tired that I often want to go to bed then myself. These are the hours that watching the Kardashians seem appealing. I then end up looking at my laptop *just before going to bed* and working till silly o’clock. Not sensible. Not clever.

I have a plan though!

  • I will buy a Improve Your Memory book at the weekend AND read it;
  • Do my internet food shop at a regular time weekly;
  • Commit to 10 minutes of meditation in the MORNING!;
  • Go for a run at 8pm instead of Kardashianing it.

The travelling with kids bit will stay the same…..but maybe this Mama might be a little less frazzled! Will share how I get on………

Take your first step to success – execute!

Inspired by Inc’s article on execution, I thought I would scribble a few of my own musings on EXECUTION!! http://www.inc.com/ron-leshem/why-execution-not-ideas-will-bring-you-success.html

I have ideas all the time as do most people; ideas are like little sparkly particles buzzing around, waiting to be plucked out of thin air! It is so much fun musing about this invention or that one. However, fun is where they stay until you TAKE ACTION! What I say to you (as do Nike) is JUST DO IT. Jump, leap, open the door……take ONE STEP towards making your idea reality and it will start to happen. That first step is the most important one. It becomes easier and easier to take more steps.

I dreamt up the idea for a range of herbal teas that tasted good, looked good and helped with pregnancy and breastfeeding. It could have stayed there – hanging in the air. But I picked up the phone to a Master Tea Blender and took that vital first step. I then called one of the UK’s top Medical Herbalists and took my second step. They could have laughed at me but both liked the idea and then worked with me to develop the range. I am now managing an international supply chain and have supplied Waitrose, Tesco and Roche Pharmaceuticals. I am still taking small steps every day and am still scared a lot of the time. Being an entrepreneur is a roller coaster of a ride but I BELIEVE in myself and I BELIEVE in Mama Tea. That gives me power and fuels my persistence.

It all came from that first step.

Think, then DO. Then see what happens!

MAGIC!!

Time to Think Equal

logo of International Women's Day

Each year Cranfield University compile a report on the numbers of females at board level in FTSE 100 companies. In the UK the figure for the percentage of female board members has plateaued at about 12% since 2008 and in the US it has plateaued at about 14-15%.

The Figures

There were 155 female held directorships, out of 1092, in the FTSE 100 in 2010; 21 of which were executive directors and 134 were non-executive directors. The top ranking board in the FTSE 100 was Burberry with 3 out of its 8 directors female and in second place was Diageo with 4 out of its 11 directors female (note this is the only board with 4 females). There are 14 boards in the FTSE 100 with no females, and in the FTSE 250 it’s even worse with just under 50% of boards being all male.

Time for Change

The introduction to the most recent report, by Theresa May MP and Vince Cable MP, said;

Promoting equality of opportunity and equal treatment for women isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s also crucial to our country’s economic success.

Women bring fresh ideas, perspectives and experiences. As a woman in business I’m keen to understand why women are not achieving board level, I also appreciate it is not all down to men and women need to help themselves. The debate goes on as to how equality is achieved, everyone should achieve based on merit and this is why the idea of gender quotas is distasteful to many, including me. There are no clear answers as to which gender diversity initiatives achieve positive results but we need to keep working at it to encourage and empower women enabling them to achieve their full potential.