5 Tips for Women-Owned Businesses to Thrive

Picture of by Ros Jones

by Ros Jones

Business coach and author

Research has shown that women-owned businesses are more likely to feel they are either not heard enough or have a loud enough voice. One-quarter of female entrepreneurs struggle with confidence in business. The need to feel confident and self-assured is a top priority right now.

What can women-owned businesses do to overcome these challenges to thrive? As a female business owner myself, here are my 5 tips.

  1. Get out of your own way

To thrive in business we need to become more aware of the obstacles we throw up for ourselves and our businesses. It’s only when we recognise what these are that we can change them. It’s too easy to blame external forces, whether that’s what people might think, what our mother might have said to us when we were 6 years old or what you hear on the News.

The biggest obstacle we put up to our business success is our fear. We might not call it that. We might say we’re too busy or too tired or need to arrange childcare. But they are just excuses our ego makes to help keep us safe in our so-called comfort zones. The only way to grow and move our business forwards is to get out of our comfort zone.

The kindest thing you can do for yourself straightaway is to forbid yourself from coming up with any more reasons why something can’t happen. When you change your mindset on just that one thing, your whole world can change. Rather than explaining to yourself why something can’t be done, why not ask yourself the better question which is “How can I make this happen?”

If you’ve spent your whole time in business coming up with reasons to hold yourself back from business success, it’s going to take a bit of practice to build the mental muscle you’ll need to get out of your own way. So be patient with yourself. But don’t let yourself off the hook. The only person you’re holding back is yourself. Do something every day that’s a little bit different and a little bit scary to build up that mental muscle that will help you get out of your own way.

Remember that fear has very similar physiological symptoms to excitement: the butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, dry mouth, racing heart. The only difference is your breathing. When you’re afraid, you hold your breath. When you’re excited you breathe more quickly. So be aware of the physical symptoms you’re experiencing and then just breathe nice deep breaths in and out and turn your fear into excitement. Once you’ve done what it is you were previously afraid of, you’ll be so pumped up and proud of yourself you’ll know you can do anything.

Once upon a time I was terrified of creating videos of myself. Someone suggested I commit to doing a live Facebook video. I was terrified. But I did it. No-one was watching and I was pretty lame to be honest, but I walked home punching the air so thrilled that I’d finally done it!

  1. Build relationships

One of the things that women-owned businesses are particularly good at is building and nurturing relationships. Get a group of women together and they just want to help and support each other. The number 1 most important – critical – thing we need to do for our women-owned businesses to thrive is to build and nurture relationships. This might be with your prospects, your customers, your suppliers and any other business contacts you have. It also includes your friends and family outside of your business because we need to keep balance in our business and personal lives for the long haul.

Set some time aside every day to build and nurture relationships. This could be by getting yourself along to business networking events, building and nurturing your email list to keep in touch with your prospects, or simply engaging on social media.

It’s 5 or 6 times easier and cheaper to get your existing customers to buy from you again as it is to go out and get new leads. So we need to be sure our customer service is top notch and that we consistently deliver good service.

  1. Set boundaries

It’s important to set boundaries and share them with people who need to know.

Boundaries are the rules you set in order to keep things separate. This could include rules for when you’ll be working on your business and when you’ll be spending time in your personal life, doing personal hobbies or spending time with family and friends.

It can be difficult to maintain these boundaries sometimes, for example if we’re working from home with small children around. But the key is to set them, put them in your diary and let people know when they can expect you to be available.

This could be as simple as setting up an automated email that the sender of an email to you receives to let them know when they can expect you to reply to their email. Or you might leave a message on your telephone voicemail to let people know when you’ll be listening to their message.

As a business owner and leader, boundaries are also important between your team members and you as the boss. Don’t try to be best friends with your team – that’s not how you manage team performance. Be kind, compassionate and inclusive, but then draw the line, the boundary, that separates the boss from the team, whatever that needs to look like in your business.

  1. Know your numbers

A significant barrier to business success is the difficulty women in business encounter with accessing financial resources. Being under capitalised will often hinder our prospects and confidence for growth so it’s a good idea to find the best likely sources of grants and funding in your area. Depending where you are in your business journey, there may be grants available from your Local Enterprise Partnership. Some banks will sponsor individuals in entrepreneurial business education programmes.

One of the issues I’ve found working with women owned businesses is that women often bury their heads in the sand when it comes to understanding and owning their business numbers.

Business numbers include your basic financial numbers such as your break even, fixed costs, lines of expenses, revenue, profit, profit margins, how to price and the difference between mark up and margin.

But we also need to know the numbers relating to our marketing activities: how much effort do we need to put into our marketing activities (how many are we running at any one time) and what return are we getting.

80% of marketing doesn’t work so we need to keep a close eye on the marketing numbers to work out which activities need to be adjusted or stopped altogether to avoid making expensive errors of judgement. Find the 20% that do work and keep going with those.

5. Choose fun – every time

Being in business can be a rollercoaster with its flying highs and sinking lows. That is how it is and it’s the same in life generally. If we only enjoy the flying high times, then we leave ourselves living in misery for the rest of the time. That’s not what life is about. Life is supposed to be fun. We have the choice whether to wait for the good times to let ourselves have fun, or to choose to find something fun in everything around us.

It’s said that “what’s fun gets done”. So we can choose to stop doing the stuff that’s no fun, or we get to choose to find a way to turn it into a game and make it fun. Try it!

If you have any questions  or would like to discuss anything in this blog, please get in touch.


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