Developing a business plan, securing funding and figuring out how to attract customers is exciting, but it requires a lot of work. Women have historically faced additional challenges in the business world. Many female entrepreneurs have had to learn how to conquer these challenges to meet their professional goals.
In this article, we consider seven top tips for women starting a business.
1. Advocate for Yourself
Imposter syndrome occurs when you doubt your abilities and feel like a fraud. It’s common in the business world, and research reveals that women are more likely to experience imposter syndrome than men. In fact, some professionals believe as many as 85% of women deal with imposter syndrome at some point in their careers.
When self-doubt creeps in, remember — nobody can bring your goals to life as well as you can. You have to root for yourself, even when others seem ambivalent or critical of your plans. Peeks Cosmetics owner Latasha McRae agrees, explaining in an interview with Constant Contact, “No one is going to believe in you like you do.”
McRae encourages female entrepreneurs to take their time and explore different options before committing to any concrete plans. This advice is important, as women are often pressured to make decisions they disagree with. You know your business better than anyone else, so believe in and advocate for yourself against all odds.
2. Make Sure Your Finances Align With Your Goals
Big dreams often require a big financial investment. Make sure you have the financial resources needed to fund your business plans. This can get tricky for a startup owner, as you may not know exactly how much you’ll need just yet.
Here are some costs to consider when securing startup funds:
- Licensing and registration fees
- Website fees, including the domain, maintenance, templates, content from paid creators and hosting costs
- Utilities, such as gas, electric, water and sewer
- Equipment, such as computers or machinery
- Furniture and other office supplies, including pens, paper and business cards
- Payroll funds for employees or freelancers who help run your business
- Taxes for state and federal agencies
- Inventory and merchandise, if you’re selling goods rather than services
- Shipping supplies and fees, including packages and stamps
- Rent or mortgage
You can typically expect anywhere from 25% to 50% of your company’s profits to go toward payroll, even if you’re only paying yourself. You can get estimates for the other expenses by calling utility providers in your company’s area and comparing costs for supplies and inventory. If you need help securing a commercial real estate loan, let Lendzi know so we can steer you in the right direction.
Loans are always a viable option when it comes to funding a startup, and they can be complimented by obtaining a grant. Consider current grants available to small business owners who identify as female, such as the Girlboss Foundation grant and the Eileen Fisher female-owned business grant. You may also find that the U.S. Small Business Administration has grants that meet your needs, as the agency offers several programs for women-owned businesses.
3. Know Your Worth
Men often earn more than women, even when performing the same work. This is known as the pay gap. For every $1 men earn, women typically bring in just $0.82. Women also have more student loan debt than males. This means they pay more money than men to qualify for jobs where they’re underpaid.
Consider the pay gap when determining how much you should charge for your goods and services as well as how much you want to pay workers. The pay gap also impacts your own salary, so make sure your earnings reflect that. As a woman, it’s easy to undervalue yourself and charge less than you deserve when you first launch a business.
4. Understand That Women Often Have Responsibilities at Home
When COVID-19 struck, many parents found themselves abandoning career goals so they could manage virtual school or childcare for their families. The majority of these caregivers were females. In fact, the unemployment rate for women jumped from less than 5% to well above 15% in 2020.
In September 2020, eight times more women than men lost their jobs. In January 2021, 80% of unemployed adults age 21 and older were women. Research shows that only 57% of female adults are currently working or seeking employment.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a new issue. Women have often been the primary caretakers, and their duties extend beyond child-rearing. On average, women spend two more hours than men on chores each day. These chores include cooking, cleaning and other household tasks.
It’s vital that you remember these statistics when you build your team, as they impact you and your female employees. Consider offering flexible schedules, unlimited vacation time or childcare discounts when you launch your business. Make sure that employees aren’t penalized for staying home with a sick child or attending a classroom party. Consider letting employees work virtually when needed and make sure you exercise that option as well.
As a woman in the workforce, don’t be hard on yourself if your duties at home ever delay your business goals. Keep pushing through and know that you’re doing your best to manage family obligations alongside your career plans.
5. Think About Issues That Impact Professional Women
Developing and launching a business takes plenty of work, especially as a woman. During your startup journey, think about issues women have to consider that men don’t. For example, women may be expected to look or dress a certain way in their industry while men get a free pass to wear what they want. Women may also get pushback from others, including fellow women, if their ideas go against societal norms.
Consider how gender inequality has made it more difficult for women to be business owners. Approximately six out of 10 businesses are owned by men, and male business owners often secure higher business loans than women.
Male entrepreneurs also rake in twice as much money as female business owners. Some experts believe this is because male entrepreneurs who apply for business loans often have higher credit scores than women. Men also have more industry-related experience than women overall, as many women postpone career plans to care for children or other family members.
The news isn’t all bad, though. Women businesses still bring in a combined total of nearly $2 trillion per year, and 12.3 million U.S. businesses have female owners. The number of female-owned businesses has increased by a whopping 114% over the last 20 years. There is plenty of room for you to make a splash in the business world, so dive in when you’re ready.
6. Focus On Your Personal Brand
You’re you, and nobody else can be you. This is also true for your business persona, so work on cultivating your personal brand.
How do you want to portray yourself? Are you edgy and hip or classic with a hint of rebellion? Are you a humanitarian who wants to contribute a chunk of your earnings to causes that inspire you? Think about how your goals shape your identity, then make sure your personal brand reflects this.
Make sure you go beyond the logo and color scheme for your company’s website. Think about what sets you apart from others and showcase your skills. You can do this by participating in interviews on podcasts or television shows, hosting seminars or finding other ways to share your knowledge.
7. Spread the Word
Don’t keep your business under wraps and wait for people to find you. Women are often taught the importance of modesty, but it’s okay to share your achievements. You aren’t being a showoff or bragging if you let friends and family know you’re excited about your new business venture.
So, go ahead — tell the world about your company.
- Tweet about your grand opening
- Share Instagram pics of your merchandise or logo
- Draft a Facebook post announcing your company’s goals or share your website
Make sure you market your business to people outside of your social circle, too. Purchase some ads on social media, or pay for a spot on the radio if you’re a small business that focuses on local customers. Let everyone know where to find you and why they should choose your business. After all, your livelihood depends on it!
Achieve Your Business Goals With Lendzi
Starting a business often comes with a massive to-do list. As you navigate through the steps of launching your startup, consider that Lendzi can help you determine which financial solutions are best for female entrepreneurs, whether you’re selling gourmet chocolate in your community or running a global business.
Connect with us today so we can transform your ideas into actionable goals. We’re honored to help you build a successful female-owned business!