Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of Care.com HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.
I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!
Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.
This Week’s Must-Read:
Who it’s for:
All founders. These tips actually apply to anyone striving to beat the failure odds.
Why it’s important:
While it is important to celebrate progress for women entrepreneurs (and there’s been a lot), we still have a long way to go until we reach desired levels of success and parity. Continuing to showcase where we are with ways to get where we want to go is easy to do, and more importantly, necessary.
Each October, the U.S. celebrates National Women in Small Business Month. More than 11 million women-owned businesses are making a positive impact on the American startup and small business landscape. The numbers don’t lie— data shows that the number of women-owned firms has grown at five times the national average since 2007, putting business ownership by women at 38% of U.S. small businesses (which is up from 29% in 2007).
While we recognize the contributions and successes of female business founders, the road for women entrepreneurs is still filled with barriers that need to be eradicated. 20% of startups fail in the first year, with a 50% failure rate by year five. And that’s all startups. Here are some tips for avoiding being a part of these statistics (and continuing smart progress):
- 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, it will not be work.
- Be generous with your time for clients and strive for the highest quality in everything you do. One of my mantras is, “Excellence is non-negotiable.” 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.
- Network. Women face challenges, including breaking into male dominated networks, finding mentors, and gaining access to funding. Networking hard is the best way to market and reach individuals who can help and support your business.
- Fake it ‘til you become it. Through research by psychologist Amy Cuddy on non-verbal expressions, we now have insight on the power of influencing our own minds. Although it may be cliché, positive thinking really can change your outlook. Focus on how you would like to see yourself in your business until you embody that exact vision.
- Listen to feedback. Always be open to positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback helps build confidence. Criticism can be just as important as praise, because it highlights areas for growth and may elicit ideas to stimulate your business.
- Create an inspiring work environment. Surround yourself with things you love: walls painted your favorite color, photographs of family and friends. Believe it or not, these inspire you to press on when it isn’t easy.
- Hire a motivated staff. Successful businesses are always a collaborative effort. Make sure your staff understand and share your business goals.
- Never lose curiosity for learning. Seek fresh inspiration and always be open to new growth opportunities. You never know where the next ground-breaking idea is going to come from.
- Set goals. Always set personal and business objectives. Goals give you something to work towards and keep you prioritized.
- Maintain the balance between work and life. Even if you love your work and want to channel all your energy into it, your business (or anything else in your life) isn’t getting your best when you are at burn-out.
- Have a business financial plan and a personal financial plan. Most businesses that fail simply run out of cash. Track your income and expenses to allow for monthly financial review. Be a Scrooge when it comes to parting with your cash; however, do not cut back on essential costs that are required for long-term business growth.
Top Take-Away: With more women than ever starting businesses, coupled with the increasing rate of success of these businesses, one could surmise that women may be very well suited for entrepreneurship. Be in the 50% that make it past five years and learn to thrive.
A Few More Truths About Fundraising: