One of the best things about my work with women in transition and successful women investors is that I get to absorb business and financial wisdom from some of the savviest and most inspiring leaders on the scene today. These are women who know what it means to swim against the currents of the marketplace. They have stared down continuing inequities in pay, in leadership opportunities, and in access to capital, and they have overcome the challenges to emerge stronger, smarter, and more focused.
But even with all the advances in recent years, both legislatively and socially, competing on the business playing field is still harder for women, statistically. The most recent survey by consulting firm Korn Ferry indicates that while there have been small gains in the number of women occupying the corporate C-suite, only 25% of these positions are held by women, and men still dominate the ranks of CEOs. The skewed numbers start early, too, since women are 18% less likely than men to receive that first promotion to management.
Maybe this is why more women are turning away from the corporate world and starting their own businesses. Running their own enterprises allows them to make the sort of decisions they’re qualified to make, with no limits placed on them by stereotyped role expectations or constraints on upward mobility. But even when women start their own businesses, they need to be aware of some financial and business realities.
1. You’re in business to make money.
Women are often socialized to prioritize passion over pay. But when you’re an entrepreneur, you have to understand that getting paid well is what empowers you to enact your passion. Don’t fall for the implicit social message that an ambition to earn a lot of money makes you “less than.” You started your business with the intention of being successful; don’t settle for less.
2. You need allies.
Almost half of women entrepreneurs (48%) report a lack of female mentors or other advisors. Also, a 2015 Babson College survey reported that less than 3% of venture capital–funded businesses had female CEOs. But groups like Hera Hub and Stella Labs are getting into the act, helping women band together to fund female-led startups and other opportunities.
3. Don’t discount what you’re worth.
You started your business to meet a unique marketplace need or to solve a problem in a novel way. That’s worth something, and you shouldn’t let anyone or any set of circumstances persuade you otherwise. Know your value in the marketplace and insist that others recognize it, too.
4. You don’t need permission to speak to the people at the top.
By launching your own business, you’re just as much a CEO as the person at the top of a Fortune 500 company. Just as you shouldn’t allow anyone or anything devalue the worth of your enterprise, you shouldn’t flinch from your right to speak to the decision maker who needs to buy what you’re offering.
5. You decide who gets to do business with you.
Some accounts are just not worth the emotional wear and tear; some trading partners are more trouble than they’re worth. You get to choose who is worth your time and effort and who is not; that’s why you’re the boss. Remember the old business maxim: most companies derive 80% of their profits from 20% of their customers. Find that 20% and spend most of your time on them.
I specialize in helping women in transition and other women in leadership positions make smart financial choices. If you’d like to find out how I can help you, please get in touch.
Stay Diversified, Stay YOUR Course!