All too often we experience the wrath of a horrible boss or co-workers, excessive job stress, gender inequality in the workplace, uncertainty of employment and not feeling appreciated by our employers. These factors combined, it is no wonder that the appeal of entrepreneurship has become more attractive to many Canadian women. Not only does starting your own business (es) offer an escape from the typical employer-employee relationship, it also allows you to pursue your passions and harness your unique skills into income.
In fact, a 2011 Statistics Canada, Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises revealed that approximately 13.5% of small businesses (1-99 employees) have female-only ownership, with 2.1% being a majority female-run. But what does it take to create, cultivate and sustain your own business as a woman?
DON’T BE AFRAID OF FAILURE BEFORE YOU EVEN START
You never know what you can achieve until you try. According to The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the world’s foremost study of entrepreneurship, this is the primary concern of women who are considering or grappling with the idea of working for themselves. It seems successful she-entrepreneurs don’t dwell on failure; instead they remember that failures are natural in order to achieve success. In the business world rejection is a reality, but it is a positive attitude and persistence that will get that one “yes” and empower success.
PLAY YOUR FEMININE FORWARD
All humans thrive when they are comfortable being themselves, and this is no different for the female entrepreneur. The corporate world is heavily saturated with images of men on top, so the perception may be “if I behave like a man, I will achieve the same success as a man.” This is a flawed approach, and in fact booming female entrepreneurs sight using their innately feminine skills to draw success: common-sense, emotional connection to work, and the ability to make others feel at-ease.
HAVE ENCOURAGING SUPPORT
Starting your own business can be an isolating experience and this can lead to a heavy amount of stress and discouragement from reaching your goals. So while the responsibility of the business falls on the entrepreneur to be the doer, there are many resources and platforms for like-minded individuals to gather, pursue investors and support each other’s pursuits. Toronto and Vancouver host annual events (the Toronto Entrepreneurs conference, GROW conference in Vancouver),and there are more local networking groups and online resources to connect ambitious self-employed ladies.
FIRST RESEARCH THEN CREATE A SOLID BUSINESS PLAN
Most successful entrepreneurs start shaping a business plan by connecting with those who are successfully running their own business. This offers a world of insight into what works and does not work. A business plan is a written description of your business’s future, highlighting what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. It is for you to define how you reach those goals from year-to-year and that the plan is realistic and supported by intelligent methodologies to achieve goals. Entrepreneurs who last often change their plans based on evidence – it’s ok to try out different approaches.
TREAT YOUR CLIENTS RIGHT SO IT COMES BACK TO YOU
Growing your business and continuing success will very much depend on client satisfaction in the world of an entrepreneur. The truth is, there are likely others that can do what you do, but the fact is that you have to maintain that you do it better! Aim to make yourself memorable so that your clients will remember you, and deliver value back to you with referrals.