Women in Business

Recently, a student asked the members of the Women’s Business Network to help her out with a paper she was writing for journalism class.  Angela was researching women in business and had a list of questions she was interested in learning more about.

Here are the answers some of our WBN members provided for her:

When the women in your group meet, what do they most want to talk about?

  • Growing our business, being successful, supporting each other,
  • For me, it’s how they are doing personally and in their business and how I can help them personally and through my business.
  • What they have experienced that makes them really good at what they do professionally.
  • Networking to help grow their businesses.
  • Each person gives a 1 min. summary about their business. Upcoming events are mentioned. Many times there are educational pieces spoken about. Ex. Social media, networking tips, and better business practices.
  • Networking, their business, their challenges and successes.
  • What’s going on in my business – new skills, recent learning I’ve done, special offers I may have, what common concerns we share – marketing, time management.

What kind of support are your members in need of?

  • Encouragement, time management, networking
  • Referrals, informal connections, personal and professional growth
  • Emotional, social, and sales
  • Contacts, new software products that are really helpful for the small business.
  • Ways to develop more direct relationships with clients suitable for multiple business.
  • Learn from one another. Connect with other women in business.
  • Time and space to meet, learn, reflect, mingle, share ideas

With the grim statistics regarding small business survival, why is it worth women taking the risk?

  • personal fulfillment, growth, personal success
  • Control over their work schedule and hours, personal and professional satisfaction, being your own boss
  • Women love to support other women in the endeavors
  • I feel I have the American Spirit within me and after being laid-offf I had to do something. No one was (or is) hiring an “older” person these days. I thought I would like writing children’s books…and I am being successful with a LOT of work.
  • If women have income or have a spouse that has health care and steady salary they can balance either time with the business and as a caregiver.
  • Because the support system a woman can provide is worth a lot more than your typical chamber support.
  • To do what you love to do, with accountability only to yourself, is worth the hard work and (sometimes) uncertainty of starting a new business. I can’t imagine ever having a boss again! I make all decisions for my business, and if I don’t have expertise in a certain area, chances are I know at least 3 people who do, and they can help me. The freedom I feel in my life by having my own business is worth a lot! For women with school-aged children, there is the possibility of scheduling around family time commitments. In reality, that would probably be a part-time business, as “doing it all” can burn you out but quick (been there, done that)!

What practices, qualities, or factors do you find make it more likely for a women owned business to succeed?

  • Personal connections; making each client feel they are important. Knowing the importance of good customer service and Follow Up
  • Women help each other, ask for help and support each other
  • Determination; thick skin; ability to balance everything
  • Organization, determination, customer service and the ability to learn something new each day!
  • Relationship building, customer service, giving 110%, and long term relationship.
  • Organization, business plan, being open to new ideas, follow-through, consistency.
  • A business is a job – you must show up for work! That means, depending on your goals, you must have a plan and be willing to do what it takes to implement that plan to work a certain number of hours, be accessible to clients, have marketing materials that showcase your business, create a positive personal image (attire, personal habits). You must get out there and “show up” in your community/niche client group, educating people about what you do; passion for the work instills the confidence to “go public.” Asking for help when you need it, keeping track of how you’re doing (celebrating successes as well as rectifying disappointments). And for me, reaffirming that “The Customer is Always Right”- meaning, even if I don’t like someone, they are still treated with respect and given good service. I may never do business with them again, but I would never want someone to leave feeling that their experience with me was less than high caliber. Networking with other small business owners is critical – informative AND fun!

What unique challenges do women face in the world of small business?

  • Not always being accepted into the “business world”. Because my business is photo preservation, not everyone feels this is a priority.
  • Not being taken seriously, not trusting themselves
  • Time, because we are often expected to balance family and work, more so than men.
  • Some companies think we are running our business for a “hobby”…we need to be taken seriously. I am my own sole provider.
  • Managing time with networking, working on jobs, running the business, and managing family ( if they have one)
  • Isolation. Not having enough knowledge on certain subject matters. Having to multitask.
  • I’m not sure I can answer that. I am in a business (massage) where most of the practitioners are women, and since clients are not surprised by that, I don’t feel there’s a hurdle to get over. I will say, though, that I have had a few instances when male clients appeared to want something “other than massage,” and that may be unique to women in my position. So to remedy that, I have my own personal policy in place – if a man comes to me through a referral (he’s the husband/brother/neighbor/boyfriend/friend) of a female client, that’s OK. If not, I’m busy. Other than that, as I’ve said above, you need to do what you love, love what you do and HAVE A PLAN!!

What benefits does networking have for you or your business?

  • Grows our potential client list.
  • Generates referrals and income, offers support and connections
  • Friendship and the occasional referral
  • It has increased my yearly business.
  • Extremely important. My clients all come from networking and referral or actual friends.
  • Learning, growing, making connections, having support and inspiration from other women in business.
  • I have many clients who have come to me through networking, mostly through direct contact, and some from referrals. These people also form the core of my networking support system and many have become friends. I have collaborated with several to provide a bundle of services at an event we created, and I have also offered my services to colleagues as part of marketing events for their own clients (I meet their clients this way). I learn all kinds of new things from my networking colleagues by staying connected via social media. We share professional and (sometimes) personal information/updates. I wouldn’t consider NOT networking!

What advice would you give to a woman who may be considering starting her own business?

  • The work you put in is the work you get out. If you want it WORK FOR IT!
  • Allow yourself 3 years to become established, build a good support network, constantly meet new people
  • Be vocal and don’t be afraid to turn away business. Your reputation is everything.
  • Have a passion for what you will be doing. Every day will be a challenge and one has to keep plugging along and believe in yourself.
  • Research all aspects of the business. Manage your time and stick to it. Keep networking and telling everyone you know what you do. You never know where your next client/job can come from.
  • Find help by starting to network right away, so you can learn from others who have been doing it for a lot longer. Women are not afraid to share their successes, their obstacles and how they have overcome them.
  • Do it if you LOVE it; reconsider your options if you don’t! Starting a new business takes a huge investment of your time and if you are not “feeling the love” for what you do, you will resent it. Also, it is important to remember that there is a “new business hill” to climb – you will not likely be making a fantastic salary right away. It takes time to build a client list, become a known entity and find your business “sea legs.” You are bound to be surprised at least once by something you didn’t plan for. Have patience – it’s like having a garden: you plant the seeds and then you need to tend the young plants until they grow to maturity. Then you’re ready to harvest!

Thanks, WBN ladies, for supporting another young woman on her way in to the professional world.

Hopefully, you have found this information interesting, as well.

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