She’s The Boss

As you may be aware, female entrepreneurs are inceasingly on the rise in every industry across varying fields. But the road to success isn’t always paved in gold. Read on to learn how to effectively join their ranks without too many bumps along the way.
Text by Dena Roché | June 14, 2018 | Lifestyle

In the ‘70s, women brought home the bacon. In the ‘80s, women were expected to be superwoman, and today the hat many women wear is that of entrepreneur. In fact, according to the SBA, women own 30% of privately-owned businesses in America, with experts predicting that number will rise to 50% in just 5 years. A 2013 American Express OPEN survey found 8.6 million women business owners contributing 1.3 trillion to the economy and employing 7.7 million workers.
“Statistics show that business ownership for women is the fastest route for a woman with or without a college education to earn 100K+ per year,” says Susan Schreter, a Venture Finance Expert & Author. “Women entrepreneurs have 3x the networth of their salaried counterparts.”
Clearly, the female entrepreneur has arrived. But it hasn’t been easy. After all, necessity is the mother of invention and is what’s sent women into the workforce in the past and today. In the 1800s and early 1900s, unmarried or widowed women had to work to survive and they could often be found running taverns, hotels, shops and even brothels. Afterward, during The Great Depression when jobs were scarce, women couldn’t take them from men, so they had small side businesses to generate much-needed family income. When the war came, women took manufacturing jobs to support the efforts, but when the men came back home, women again turned to their side businesses. Then in the ‘60s, when the divorce rate began to soar, women began to see business ownership as a viable means of income.
But it wasn’t until the 1970s that women began to call themselves entrepreneurs like their male counterparts and began to think about starting businesses. It was during this time that women credit unions and banks were established to address women’s limited access to credit and financing. Shockingly, it wasn’t until 1988 that the Women’s Business Ownership Act ended discriminatory lending to women and eliminated state laws that required a woman’s husband to co-sign a loan!
Moreover, the rise of technology since the ‘90s has reduced the cost of entry for female entrepreneurs and has allowed women to run a business from anywhere, making entrepreneurship ever more appealing to women. And because the barriers to entry are so much lower, there can be a false sense that being an entrepreneur is easier than being an employee. “There’s no success story that doesn’t include pain and blood,” says Miamian Violette Sproul, Founder of FemFessionals, a network of 60 chapters nationwide aimed at connecting and educating female entrepreneurs. “You have to be willing to put in grueling hours and not have a life for a while.”
While it isn’t easy, entrepreneurship offers a wealth of advantages for women — from pride of ownership and flexibility to eliminating the glass ceiling still encountered in Corporate America. But to really hit the top echelon of entrepreneurs, women need to capitalize on inherent female traits, and avoid the common pitfalls that women entrepreneurs often fall into.
Anita Mahaffey, Founder of Cool-Jams and a lecturer on entrepreneurship at the University of San Diego believes women are natural entrepreneurs. “Women have an ability to socialize, understand people and multi-task” she says. “How often do we have a kid on our hip while talking on the phone and stirring something to get dinner ready on time? Need I say more?”
Adds Leigh Gallagher, Editor of Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list: “Women tend to have more emotional intelligence, a more holistic perspective and an ego that’s willing to admit when it’s wrong, allowing them to pivot,” she says. “But women don’t inherently take as much risk as men. They need to go for it, be aggressive and ask for the sale. The women who make it to the top do that.”
In other words, to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be bold. Entrepreneur experts across the board believe that male entrepreneurs tend to be more successful because of the plan they have going into their venture. “Women value different things like freedom and time for kids and those things cause them to start a business,” says Michelle Villalobos, Founder of Women’s Success Summit, the largest conference for female entrepreneurs in Miami. “Conversely, men say ‘I want to make millions and millions of dollars’.”
As a Venture Capitalist, Schreter saw this in action time and time again. “If I had two people come in for restaurant funding, the woman was thinking of a single location whereas the man had a plan to franchise. I wish women thought bigger about their potential.”
That scalability is key. To be a highly successful business owner, you need to create a business that can function when you’re taking a day off at the beach. “Realize that you’re starting a business that has value separate from yourself — everybody should have a business they can draw a salary from and eventually sell and get a check for,” advises Schreter. “Therefore, before you start your business, know what is worth building and what businesses buyers and investors value.”
Additionally, as an entrepreneur, you also need to develop a thick skin. Many people will doubt you, but you can’t let that make you doubt yourself. “Women approach challenges much more cautiously than men,” says Sharon Sayler, an Executive Coach based in Brickell. “Men reach out for solutions and women reach out for support.”
Schreter echoes this: “Women give up too soon” she says. “They assume one naysayer represents the bigger world. Men rarely come to that conclusion.”
In the end, no matter what business you decide to start, you must love it. “You have to think about who you are, what you love to do and what you’re great at and then build a business around that,” concludes Villalobos.