Women have a better education than at any other time in recent history, but are increasingly frustrated they are still not getting the same opportunities to succeed in their careers. We only have to look at the film industry as an example. This was highlighted by actress Patricia Arquette in her acceptance speech at the 2015 Oscars. It’s a fact that women are not paid the same as men in the film industry and in many other industries too.
More than ever, women are deciding to strike out on their own and create their own future. There are only 7 skills women need to start a business, let’s examine what they are.
7 Skills Women Need To Start A Business
- Are you determined?
- Are you organized?
- Do you have a passion?
- Are you a leader?
- Are you savvy with your finances?
- Are you a decision maker?
- Do you like people?
Being an entrepreneur is not for the feint of heart, because the road can be long with a series of bumps along the way. The average business does not last five years and staying in for the long haul can be intimidating. Always taking steps to improve your business or pivot it in a different direction if it isn’t gaining traction are good signs that you have the determination to keep going when the going get’s rough.
Chances are you have a busy life, so organization is key to starting and running a successful business. Organization starts with making sure you have a business plan before you go into business. The plan, while probably out of date after the first few months in business, will help you find out, on paper, whether your business has a chance of success. Without a business plan, you will not be able to get outside financing. Organization will help you decide on the right business structure and proper business and tax registrations before you start out. We are great believers of “the list”. Make it last thing at night for your next day’s activities. Tackle the hardest items when you have the most energy. Prioritize the list by importance to your business and separate the ‘Must Do’s’ from the “Like to Do”.
Passion for your business is very important, because passion is what will fuel you to continue when you hit speed bumps. Look at different ways to re-ignite your passion when your energy for your projects has deserted you. Share your passion with others. Your supporters will help you along when your passion is wavering and the going gets tough.
As you grow your business, others will look at you for leadership. There is a difference between being a ‘leader’ and being a bossy ‘boss’. Take our leadership quiz to see how you rate. Strong leadership skills will enable you to build the right team for advancing your business and make your business a place where others will want to join you in your journey. Money is not the sole reason people take jobs The right cultural fit is important to most people. More people quit their jobs because they didn’t like their boss than for any other reason. We spend a great deal of time working, so naturally we want to spend that time with people that are fun and engaging and have a clear Company vision. It puts order in our work world.
Many women skip this part, because it isn’t the glamorous side of running a business. Financial responsibility is important both in our personal and business lives. When starting out your business, it’s wise to get your finances in order and to have sufficient cash flow for the first year. An accountant is the first step to getting your books set up properly for your business structure. There are many easy accounting packages to help you get organized, Fresh Books and Quick Books by Intuit are two of the popular ones. Ben Schmitt of Cloudwards has written a review on Fresh Books. Other online accounting software is also reviewed on the Cloudwards site. If you hate bookkeeping yourself, consider outsourcing. It isn’t an expensive monthly expenditure and can save you many valuable hours of work that can be spent growing your business. Just as important as getting your bookkeeping done on a monthly basis, is reviewing your financials as quickly as possible every month, because the story of your business is in these results. If you review on a regular basis, you will know from the numbers what is going on in your business. Do you need more sales, or perhaps your expenses are too high? If you don’t understand your profit and loss statement, get your accountant to explain all the line items. The more confident you are understanding the financial aspect of your business the better equipped you will be to make financial decisions.
A Decision Maker
One of the biggest barriers to decision making is fear. Fear of making a mistake, fear of taking a risk, fear not everyone will like your decision. Our take on this is that every decision you make can be changed one way or another, if it turns out to be the wrong decision. The best way to mitigate the risk of making a wrong decision is do your homework. Weigh up all the pros and cons of the issue. Seek out a second opinion on the course of action you are considering and then go with your own gut. Some of the hardest decisions are around people. Should you hire a relative, when should you release a non-performing employee? Taking the emotion out of the decision should help you make the right choice and remember it’s not personal, it’s business. If you have to release an employee the caveat is be professional, offer assistance in the transition and ensure the person understands they are great person but not the right fit for your business.
Why is this important? Because people buy from people they like and trust, no matter what your business. You may have all the technical skills in the world but unless people connect with you and your Company, you can easily fail. Building the trust factor takes time, there is not “instant” way to speed this up. If you are authentic in building your business relationships, the recommendations and trust factor will follow. Building a network of people who you trust and who trust you will help you grow your business for the long term. Some of these people may be willing to become your mentor and propel you to the next level. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If some of these skills are missing, it isn’t too hard to acquire these by practicing them in whatever job you are currently doing. If you really need help, there are all kinds of ways of to fill in your knowledge gaps. A simple Google search will uncover all kinds of training on whatever aspect you consider to be your weakness. Two great places to start are YouTube videos and Udemy. For more formal training, try taking a MOOC. (Massive Open Online Course).Most of these are completely free and are university level courses. There are a few platforms for taking MOOC’s, one of the popular ones is Coursera. For example if you want to explore the whole idea of entrepreneurship, try some of these courses from the University of Maryland.
And The Last Word….overcoming FEAR
Perhaps because women are more cautious by nature, there is a certain amount and anxiety and fear about starting a business. But the truth is, if you have mastered the seven skills it takes to start a business, then take that leap. Making a difference in the world for yourself and opening up the doors for more women to follow in your footsteps is more than enough reward for taking the first steps towards opening up a successful business. It doesn’t matter if you are 17 or 70 you can do it.
XL Consulting Group specializes in getting startups organized and off to a great beginning. If you need support, contact us here for a complimentary chat.
Marketing Strategist and web designer at XL Consulting Group. Author of Fabulous Fempreneurship, a startup guide for women entrepreneurs.