Have you heard? March is Women’s History Month! Since 1987, when Women’s History Month was declared a national holiday, we’ve been celebrating the accomplishments of the Why Not Girls! that forged the way for so many of us. In fact, I don’t remember a time that I felt unable or uninvited as a woman to participate in the entrepreneurial dream. And, I owe it all to the fearless women willing to do the hard work of breaking through traditional beliefs about women and their roles.
Women’s History Month is about celebrating women and their contributions. This years theme is Women Inspiring Innovation and Imagination. Although it honors women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), Why Not! pay tribute to all women – past, present, and future – who have the audacity and tenacity to live the entrepreneurial dream.
Running a business, especially in today’s economy, is not for the faint of heart. What it takes to launch and grow a business isn’t the same as what’s required to advance within a corporate hierarchy. Those that have been downsized, displaced, severed, or intentionally left a long-standing corporate career will be the first to tell you that striking out on one’s own isn’t as easy as it looks.
What it takes to succeed in business isn’t the same as what is necessary to start the business, either. Perhaps that’s why, 3 years after start-up, only 19.8% of women-owned businesses make less than $100,000/year compared to 32.8% of their male counterparts. Or, why 1.8% of women-owned firms generate revenue in excess of $1 Million compared to 6.3% of men.
Glass Ceilings or Walls? We Think Not
Some believe a lack of financial or technology literacy, risk-aversion, or difficulty with accessing capital are the reasons women-owned companies haven’t expanded at the same rate as their male counterparts. Those aren’t traditionally gender issues – they are economic issues. Moreover, some women prefer to keep their companies small as they care for the needs of their families and/or strike work-life balance. There’s no shame in that!
For those who say why not to growing their business while caring for their families and maintaining a modicum of sanity, here are 7 actions you can take to blow through the economic glass ceilings or walls of your business:
1. Build your support network. As a woman, you’re a natural networker. Use your communication skills to reach out and up to other female entrepreneurs.
2. Become a role model and mentor. The best way to grow quickly, personally and professionally, is to serve as a good example for others.
3. Collaborate with larger, more financially advanced firms. It expands your thinking.
4. Rethink your business model. A scalable business model significantly contributes to revenue generation without drastically adding time and cost.
5. Take a giant step forward – each week. Expand your comfort zone by challenging yourself to do something bigger at least once a week.
6. Refine your niche. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, the more refined your market, the greater your revenue opportunities.
7. Believe in yourself. When you trust in yourself and your abilities, you set life in motion and magnetize your dreams.
As a female entrepreneur, you have unique strengths and abilities. Why not celebrate yourself and your many accomplishments. It's just smart economics!