Women have come a long way in Canada. Today, they lead a third of the country’s small and medium-sized businesses and employ 1.5 million people, while over half of them have more than 10 years of management or ownership experience under their belts.
But despite these credentials, women-owned businesses don’t seem to be growing. In fact, Industry Canada’s latest research on female entrepreneurs found that women-owned companies are less likely than those owned by men to grow beyond small or medium-sized. What’s going on up there?
While both male and female business owners want to grow their businesses, women are often discouraged from pursuing growth by factors such as time away from family and the need for work/life balance. What they may not realize is that you can be a successful entrepreneur while still being true to yourself and the balance you need in life. Here are a few tips that help women who want to grow their businesses while retaining their sanity:
1. Find your voice, and use it.
Most successful entrepreneurs are bold. It takes a lot of guts and conviction to venture out and start a business, yet many female business owners often hold back. A lot has been said lately about imposter syndrome, where people don’t feel they’re qualified or deserving to be in the position they’re in, and it’s something that many women, even self-starting entrepreneurs, are plagued with.
Whether it’s with new business prospects or employees, you need to find your own voice and have conviction in what you’re saying. You’re in your role for a reason. You’ve worked hard to get there and you know what you’re doing, so don’t be afraid to use your voice.
2. Change your delivery, not your message.
Business owners frequently wear multiple hats. Especially when starting out, we’re employers, plus marketers, plus accountants and pretty much everything else in between. When you’re building a brand, you need to keep a consistent message, but it’s how and to whom you’re delivering it that makes all the difference.
What you’d say at an internal staff meeting would (and should) be far different than what you’d say to a reporter writing a story about your company, and different again when talking to a venture capital firm or a customer. That softer skill of reading a room and adjusting message delivery will go a long way to getting your message through clearly and concisely.
3. Find a rhythm that works for you.
Volumes have been written about the quest for work/life balance, but entrepreneurs can find that sweet spot even more elusive. A recent survey suggests that 79 percent of entrepreneurs believe they’re working too much. While entrepreneurs seem to have the advantage of creating their own work hours, many feel they can’t delegate or leave the office in fear of letting balls drop.
Part of striking that balance is to take advantage of technology that lets you handle emergencies or answer customer questions away from your desk. In my role as senior vice president and GM at Desk.com, I’ve seen many entrepreneurs change the way they work by embracing technology that gives them more flexibility.
4. Stay true to who you are.
Transparency has become a business and communications buzzword, but consumers also know when a company is pulling one over on them. The same can be said for leaders. Successful business owners are those who are genuine — who have a clear vision and aren’t trying to dance around it.
While leading a company can be stressful, those who maintain their core beliefs and personalities are going to be the business leaders who have a loyal employee and customer base.
With the skills, the knowledge, and the experience already in hand, taking charge of some of these attitudes can help push you and your business to the next level.