According to the 2013 Women-Owned Business Report, published by small business payment card issuer American Express OPEN, more than 8.6 million U.S. businesses are owned by women. This is the good news.
Women-owned businesses, on average, employ just one additional employee besides the owner. Also, women businesses generally max out at salaries of $155,000, well under the $400,000 for typical private businesses. And this is the not so good news.
It’s important to understand the gravity of these statistics. However, it’s just as critical for women-owned businesses to ensure data and statistics do not define their destiny. You can and will create your own wonderful small business story by taking risks and learning from others.
So we asked twelve business leaders to share their very best advice for women entrepreneurs. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Face your fears.
“The idea of leaving a stable job to start your own business or investing your life savings in a startup is undeniably daunting. So, to run a successful business you need to have lots of confidence; in your product and yourself. Some women can be reserved about promoting their talents, but you’ll need to be your own biggest champion when pitching to potential investors and clients. There’s no place for false modesty when you are trying to build a business.”
– Annie Xu, General Manager, U.S., Alibaba.com, @AlibabaTalk
2. Create the opportunity.
“You must be your own best cheerleader and believe in your own success. No one can advocate for you or make it happen like you can. I arrived in New York after college with just $200, no job, and a dream of working on Wall Street. Just over a decade later, I am the CEO and Founding Partner of my own independent Fiduciary wealth management firm, Lexion Capital. If the right opportunity does not present itself, you have to create your own.”
– Elle Kaplan, CEO & Founding Partner, Lexion Capital Management LLC, @LexionCapital
3. Take off the Superwoman cape.
“You are not super-human and [you] don’t have to ‘do it all’. Keep photos of your family in clear view at the office as a reminder of what’s important. Have a good friend available to ‘walk you off the ledge’ at a moment’s notice. Use your feminism to your advantage!”
– Rhonda Sparks, CEO/President, UV Skinz, Inc., @UVSkinz
4. Find what you truly love.
“Find something that you really love. Focus on finding and building relationships with a community of people who love it too. Don’t be afraid to follow the path not yet taken. Pick yourself up when you fall. Pick yourself up when you fall again and again and again …”
– Nancy Traversy, Co-Founder & CEO, Barefoot Books, @barefootbooks
5. Break the glass.
“[Understand that] you do not need a male co-founder to grow your business. The more female founders breaking through the glass ceiling, the faster venture capitalists and angel investors will invest in female entrepreneurs. It’s up to women to bang to the beat of their own startup drum, for that natural shift towards a more balanced entrepreneurial ratio.”
– Heddi Cundle, Big Cheese, myTab Inc., @mytab
6. Leave ‘perfect’ behind.
“Don’t be afraid, let go of doing everything perfect the first time and focus on the customer!”
– Reka Barabas, Director, Bad Girl Ventures Cleveland, @BGV_Cleveland
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