5 Ways to Be a Successful Female Entrepreneur
Although much has been done to reduce the gender gap in the workforce, there continue to be obstacles for female entrepreneurs.
Prescribed gender roles and gender stereotypes can limit access to financial aid and social capital for female entrepreneurs. For example, women are twice as likely to give up their careers to be caregivers (Forbes, 2021). This may lead some to question the longevity of the business and it may be harder to obtain financial capital.
In Singapore, the relatively few female board members and lower press coverage of successful businesswomen (Generation T, 2019) may deter or impede female entrepreneurs. Nonetheless, there continue to be inspiring and successful women entrepreneurs in Singapore, such as Rachel Lim, founder of a popular clothing label Love, Bonito, and Tan Hooi Ling, co-founder of the unicorn startup Grab. If you are a current or aspiring female entrepreneur, here are five tips on how you can be a successful female entrepreneur!
1. Identify and Eliminate Your Limiting Beliefs
A limiting belief is a state of mind that you think to be true that limits you in some way. The lack of self-efficacy may become a self-fulfilling prophecy where opportunities are missed because you think you are not good enough. For example, if you feel that you will never be able to climb the corporate ladder as a woman, you may not challenge yourself to take up more opportunities to reach greater heights.
To overcome this, identify your self-limiting beliefs. This may sound like “I am not good enough”, “I cannot change” or “I do not have the right education”. Once you have identified these beliefs, try replacing them with positive affirmations such as “I have control over my thoughts” or “I make the best of every situation”. It is not realistic to be positive all the time, but it is important to acknowledge these thoughts and move on from them.
2. Don’t Try to Please Everyone
While one customer may want one thing, another customer may want something completely different. At times, there is no way to cater to the needs of all customers and attempting to do so may stretch your resources thin. Similarly, within the organisation, differences may also occur where employees may have conflicting ideas and it is difficult to reach a consensus. Pleasing everyone is not easy and it may even distract you from sticking to the objectives of your organisation.
However, it is important to remain firm and focused on your goals. This includes understanding your audience or customer base. To combat the resistance you may face in certain decisions as a business owner, developing a thick skin is a useful asset for any professional woman. As the owner of MeetingPlay Lisa Vann advised, in a world where successful women are not as respected, it is helpful and important to develop a thick skin while remaining approachable (MeetingPlay, 2016).
3. Know Your Niche and Market
Having the right niche for the right market is fundamental to entrepreneurial success. Co-founder and CEO of 100.co, Kim Perell, looked at companies where she could add value and bring her expertise. She advised looking for big markets that are ripe for disruption (Forbes, 2021).
The next step, Kim suggested, is to consider how to value and position your company’s products or services. It is a turn-off when companies value themselves too high without data to substantiate. Ask yourself what the actual addressable market is, and what percentage the company thinks it can capture over time.
4. Learn on the Job
Co-founder of A2Z Elite Health & Performance, Dr Abosede “GB” Ajay, shared that some women feel that they need to know everything before taking on a challenge (Robert Walters Group, n.d.). However, GB believes that you must dream bigger than what you can plan for and learn along the way.
Similarly, serial entrepreneur Debra Ward reflected on her own experience, where she realised at a young age that no one would show her everything she needed to know and that she could always teach herself and ask for opportunities to learn (Robert Walters Group, n.d.). Learning on the job will help you to seize new opportunities and grow along the way – but remember not to bite off more than you can chew!
5. Seek Support
GB and Ward both acknowledge that few entrepreneurs can make it entirely on their own, and it is important to build support networks (Robert Walters Group, n.d.). As GB pointed out, it is important to balance learning new skills and delegating tasks so that you can focus your efforts on expanding your business within your areas of expertise.
Debra also highlighted the importance of trusting your team. Not letting go hinders you from innovating and keeping your business relevant. On the other hand, seeking others’ perspectives can help to future-proof your business.
Entrepreneurship is like climbing a mountain. There is no fixed nor easy path to reach the top. Everyone’s path may look different, but that does not mean that you cannot overcome the obstacles to be a successful female entrepreneur.
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