Women are tough. They are showing outstanding resolve and strength in coping with economic crisis and, as owners of approximately a third of all businesses worldwide, play a crucial role in the global economy. Their increasing rate of entrepreneurship is a force that policy makers around the world would do well to consider. Women-owned businesses produce 30% (Latin America) to 80% (sub-Saharan Africa) of the world’s food. Their advancement in economic, social and political spheres is undeniable, but their success is constrained by in-equal access to education and training and the failure of many countries to establish equality under the law. However, women do not forget that they can have a strong hand overcoming these obstacles by training their children for a different future than they have had, teaching role equality to sons and daughter alike.
Why are women so resilient, even in tough times? They are optimistic and are generally willing to re-invent themselves or their businesses to react to new opportunities. Jealous guardians of cash, they are savvy deal-makers, often using barter to minimize cash outlay and gain products needed for their businesses. They are relationship-builders, and so it flows that they are also frequent and effective communicators and generally deliver A+ customer service. Although they are notorious multi-taskers, they also recognize the value of winding down and allowing themselves to renew and re-balance.
Women that still aren’t satisfied with the progress of their business are doing a number of things to enhance their success. Assuming that a growth strategy is already in place and owner-operators are measuring and managing the critical performance areas of the business, here are six things that lead to improved business performance:
- Intensify the focus on customers and broaden the value delivered to them. Are the customer’s needs understood? Is their opinion asked with regard to value, satisfaction, and service? Is it easy to conduct a transaction? Is the product/service delivered on-time and exceeding customer expectation
- Look for existing differentiators or create new ones. Complete the phrase “my company is the only…” If your company lacks competitive advantages, figure out how to create them. Understand the strengths and differentiators of competitors, and capitalize on their weaknesses. Be aggressive in advertising and marketing. In the absence of superior internal expertise, engage a professional provider for these services.
- Broaden networks of support. Join organizations – like TIAW - that provide resources, information and contacts that are valuable to business growth. Qualify as a Global Board Ready Woman and become visible to corporate boards on a global scale. Join entrepreneurial organizations such as TIAW members United Success, NAWBO, WBENC, WeConnect or WPO.
- Embrace social responsibility as a cost of doing business. Invest in employees and your community for the common good. View the bottom line in triplicate: people, planet and profits.
- Actively and strategically participate in social media Develop skills of self-promotion by blogging relevant content on social and professional sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. To help build media access, try HARO. For professional international networking, join TIAW. Tools such as HootSuite will assist you with scheduling your social media posts that daily attention is not necessary.
- Join trade networks that are aligned with your revenue goals. Diversifying revenue streams is every bit as important as diversifying an investment portfolio. TIAW’s Entrepreneurship program is an excellent resource for the development of trade relationships, and several of TIAW’s members such as the Organization of Women in Trade (OWIT) can help you develop relationships in your own geographic area of the world.
I hope you found this tips helpful to the development of your business. We are here for you.
Lisa Kaiser Hickey