In 1973, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only celebrates this historic achievement, but also calls attention to continuing efforts toward full equality for women and girls.
Women entrepreneurs have made significant inroads in the workplace. Today, women own approximately 40% of the country’s small businesses, but there is still plenty of progress to be made. In honor of the past, present, and future accomplishments of women in business, here are a few ways that seasoned female entrepreneurs as well as up-and-coming newcomers can achieve greater success and support each other along the way.
Be a role model.
If you are a successful female small business owner, you have achieved what was once considered unimaginable. Just as you have created and/or taken advantage of opportunities to start and grow your business, you have the ability to open doors for other women. You can start by setting a positive example for your staff as well as the vendors, customers, and other partners you collaborate with. Learning from the experiences of successful female bosses helps women gain knowledge, insight, and the confidence to set and reach higher goals.
Remember that the negative experiences you may have had along the way can teach you just as much as the positive ones. For instance, if you had a poor employee-manager relationship in the past, consider what wasn’t working and why. Let the mistakes others have made serve as a guide for becoming the boss you wish you had and the leader your team needs today.
Take time to improve time management.
According to the World Economic Forum’s World Gender Gap Report, women work on average 50 more minutes a day or 39 more days a year than their male counterparts. Small business owners in particular feel overwhelmed by trying to manage day-to-day operations while keeping their eye on the big picture. If major projects keep getting pushed back because you are continually sidetracked by the issues of others, you may need to reevaluate how your time is being spent.
There are numerous time management apps to help you make the most of every hour by tracking not just how you plan to spend your time, but where you actually spend it. Once you identify exactly how you are wasting time, you can replace less important tasks or projects with those that are more productive.
If you are running a business, it is also essential that you entrust your best people to take on more responsibility and move less important work off your plate. This frees your time and shows you have confidence in your team.
Connect with other women business owners.
Business success is as much about who you know as what you know, and who better to build relationships with than other women entrepreneurs? The KPMG Women’s Leadership Study found 82% of professional working women believe access to and networking with female leaders will help them advance in their career. In addition, 67% of those surveyed said they had learned the most important lessons about leadership from other women.
Whether you’re looking for sage advice, informal pointers, or potential business opportunities, connecting with women who have walked in your shoes offers the chance to exchange ideas and discuss everyday business issues that mirror your own. Consider venturing outside of your industry for potential contacts or expanding your network to include professionals at varying experience levels, not just your peers.
When speaking with women you meet, ask questions to learn more about them and their challenges. Focus not on what they can do for you, but on what you have to offer. Facilitating an introduction or sharing information about their area of expertise is a way of adding value. Chances are they will remember you when they have the opportunity to offer value in return.
Advocate for diversity.
Inclusion matters not just on an ethical level, but also for the strength and profitability of your small business. As a woman in the workplace, you may know what it’s like to be the outsider in a room. You also know that the differences women bring to the table often allow them to approach problems and develop solutions in unique and innovative ways.
It is incumbent on women business owners to create an inclusive workplace culture where every employee is treated fairly, regardless of gender. Ensure that top performing women are rewarded for their accomplishments and considered for and promoted to leadership positions. This sends a clear message to everyone on your team as well as prospective employees that your business thrives on listening to the points of view of others and engaging their talents.
In addition, encourage the female managers in your company to work closely with women in junior positions to give them the tools and guidance they need to grow and advance. In the absence of seasoned women leaders, consider collaborating with an outside consultant to provide all female staff members with valuable career advice and support in overcoming workplace challenges and obstacles.
As women look for ways to grow their businesses, it can be difficult to obtain working capital financing from traditional lenders with whom the process of applying for loans can be slow and require extensive documentation. Summit Financial Resources has long been a resource for women business owners who need working capital to sustain and develop their businesses. We celebrate their significant achievements and are proud of the work we do to help them move beyond financial barriers on their road to continued success.
Working Capital Financing is a few clicks away.
Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.