Are you a woman in business? If so, you’re certainly not in the minority. According to Arizona State University, women make up 51 percent of corporate professionals in the United States, today. However, many C-suite positions are still occupied by the opposite gender. In fact, Jared Lindzon argues via an article in Fortune that companies with the best reputation in their respective industries have more than twice as many women in senior management; however, Lindzon also points out that “Only 10.9% of Fortune 500 senior leaders are female, while 37.6% of those companies have no women in their C-suites…”
It is perhaps no wonder, then, that many women would rather simply start their own company, rather than wait around for an executive position to open up at their company. Entrepreneurship is an attractive option for ambitious women with a vision: not only does it provide an opportunity to lead a company as its Chief Executive Operator, but it also allows for a great deal of freedom in terms of how to manage, market, and finance a business; implicit in this freedom is the knowledge that the design or intent of the company could change at any time, if market forces dictate or encourage a different direction.
What, then, are some current and future trends for entrepreneurs who happen to be women?
Be Bold and Creative with Financing
There are a number of different possible sources of funding for your business seed money. Fortunately, there are also a number of financial resources out there, as well. Intuit’s Small Business Center is one resource with a number of funding ideas for all sizes and types of businesses, with different recommendations depending on whether you own a small business or a high-growth-potential idea—the amount of funding may depend, for example, on the stage of growth your company is in.
If you’re just starting out, consider friends and family, government-funded grants for small business, competitions, rewards-based crowdfunding, and loans. If on the other hand, you’ve been in business for a while and are looking for more substantial amounts of financial backing, you should also consider equity financing, including angel investors and venture capitalists, and crowdfunding for accredited investors. Because venture capital firms owned by women are three times more likely to invest in companies with female CEOs, consider investing the majority of your efforts into appealing to women-founded firms: here’s a list, compiled by Pitchbook.
Find a Trusted Mentor
Lest you think that independent women always go it alone, many well-known figures, including Walter Cronkite, Oprah Winfrey, and Vincent Van Gogh, have lain claim to mentors being the reason why they were inspired to pursue their goals. There are some key questions you should ask yourself first, though, in order to assist you in finding the right person—or knowing what to ask for once you’ve found said person!
Although you’re probably already aware of your professional goals and communication style, you may have a particular skill or area of expertise that you wish to enhance. Look for someone whose communication style and professional knowledge complement your own. You might also want different mentors for different professional areas in which you wish to grow. Lastly, if your schedule makes it difficult to find mentors within your personal and professional network, there are professional mentorship-finding services such as Envelop, Mogul, and MentorCity that can introduce you to people you may not have found, otherwise.
Dream Big and Aim High
The last trend that women should embrace is having the courage to dream big and aim high. However, this is not a feat that has to be accomplished alone. The Future of Business Tech argues that women could benefit from support in an entrepreneurship-based community as well as increased access to elected officials who have a direct connection to community-related business regulations and policies that affect their businesses.
Encouragingly, according to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, 90 percent of female entrepreneurs reported that they expect their businesses’ gross profits to either stay the same or grow in the coming year—and 61 percent of women who identify as entrepreneurs expect their profits to rise, compared to 58 percent of entrepreneurs, overall.
Hopefully, these findings are an indicator of times to come, since it seems that all women need (in order to achieve equal representation) is faith in their ventures—from themselves and others, yes, so it’s a two-way street, but the increased prominence of Internet-based marketing and technology will hopefully mean less of an emphasis on expensive marketing campaigns, ideally leveling the playing field a bit more with gender-neutral, digital representation putting the emphasis on the product, rather than the messenger.
What trends do you see you see coming to light in 2017 and beyond, for female entrepreneurs? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below!