Each October, the U.S. celebrates National Women in Small Business Month. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, more than 11.6 million women-owned businesses are making a positive impact on the American small business landscape. Data shows that since 2007, the number of women-owned firms has grown at five times the national average, with 1,072 new women-owned firms starting every day.
Women are currently majority owners of 38% of U.S. small businesses, up from 29% in 2007, with these businesses employing nearly 9 million people and generating more than $1.6 trillion in revenue each year.
While we recognize the contributions and successes of female small business owners in our country, the road for women entrepreneurs is only going uphill. By 2020, women are expected to control more than $22 trillion dollars. Many women have turned to entrepreneurship to follow their passion, gain flexibility, and/or take control of their future and their earning power. Sadly, around 20% of small businesses, in general, fail in the first year, and 50% do not survive beyond five years. Here’s what women entrepreneurs can do to avoid falling into this disheartening statistic.
1. Do what you love and love what you do. Have a strong passion for what you do and you will be good at it. If you are truly happy at work, you won’t have to drag yourself out of bed every morning, and you’ll find the time flying by during the day. Your optimism will radiate and positively influence the people around you.
2. Be generous with you time for clients, and strive for the highest quality in everything you do. Personalize and customize your work for each client. You don’t want to create generic plans and ideas that apply to everyone, just because it saves time. A small amount of extra effort goes a long way. Clients will appreciate the attention and detail you have provided to tailor your services to their needs. Even a handwritten “thank you” card can make a difference.
3. Network. Women face challenges, including breaking into male dominated networks, finding mentors and gaining access to outside funding. Networking hard is the best way to market yourself and reach individuals who can help and support your business. By meeting other people, not only can you advertise your products and services, but you will learn what makes some businesses thrive and others crash and burn. Networking events are a great way to connect with other businesses owners to share ideas.
4. Fake it ’til you become it. This idea was recently popularized by social psychologist Amy Cuddy. Through her research on nonverbal expressions, she provides insights on what we can do to influence our own minds, and although it may be cliché, positive thinking really can change your outlook and your behavior which then positively influences your thinking. Focus on how you would like to see yourself in your business until you embody that vision. Try a power pose when times get tough, as they inevitably will.