Five ways for women to get ahead in business
Women makeup around a third of the UK’s entrepreneurs and still face additional barriers to success, finding it harder to attract funding despite the fact that, on average, female-led businesses generate higher yields in proportion to investment. Yet research tells us that one in ten women would like to start their own business. Many hesitate because they lack confidence and worry about the consequences of failure. However, if you know what you’re doing, then there are many ways that you can reduce that risk. With the right approach, you could get right to the top.
Follow your passion
Running a business takes a lot of effort, and not everybody can stand the strain. It’s much easier to do so if you’re doing something that really matters to you. Don’t settle for starting up a business that you think could make money but that doesn’t excite you. To be successful, you’re going to need to be able to inspire your team, potential funders and trading partners, so you need to believe in your business and what it stands for.
Although you can go a long way on talent and good ideas, it takes technical knowledge to get the edge in business. A good business-focused education will also sharpen up the skills that you need every day to stay on top of production, budget effectively, identify opportunities and secure good deals. LSBF in Manchester offers a range of courses that are flexible and easy to fit around existing work and domestic commitments.
If there’s one area where women let themselves down in business, as opposed to being let down by others, it’s in failing to assert themselves enough. Women tend to have subtler negotiating styles than men, and these can be effective, but it’s important to be sure of yourself and ready to drive a hard bargain. Don’t let other people take advantage of the fact that you were raised to be nice – make sure that you get what you want.
Network, network, network
One of the reasons why the business world is tough for women is that there really is an old boys’ club out there. Long-established traditions help men to network and assist each other, maintaining their advantage. To compete, you need to be socially assertive, identify key players, and make a concerted effort to get to know them. Network at every opportunity, and be ready to give other women a hand up.
Focus on your strengths
Succeeding in business isn’t simply about aping those who have been successful in the past. You have your own individual strengths and you need to work out how to play to them. This should go to the heart of how you structure your business and manage interactions both internally and externally. Draw on your life experience to identify the things that you’re good at, and work out how to apply them in a business context.
In the US, the higher productivity and sustainability of women’s businesses form the backbone of the economy. There’s still a lot of progress needed to reach that point here, but you could be part of it.