5 Tips For Female Entrepreneurs Breaking Into Startups
Tech entrepreneurs are leading drivers of economic development, introducing ground-breaking and innovative technologies, creating jobs for thousands, and improving lives all over the world with new products and services. However, their potential to transform society is limited. The startup scene will continue failing to meet its full potential until half of the world’s population is adequately represented amongst its ranks - and by this, I mean greater inclusion of women.
Barriers for female entrepreneurs are slowly being lifted and the number of female founders has steadily risen across the startup scene doubling from 9% in 2009 to 18% in 2014, yet this is simply not enough. More can and must be done. We are still not seeing enough women leaders in tech, even as women have shown that they are just as capable as male entrepreneurs to fill those roles. Female entrepreneurs have a strong and important role to play in society. It's important that we take responsibility and actively participate in bringing about the change we want see - more women led startups.
Unlike previous generations, people today have unprecedented access to innovations that connect them to the wider world through computers, the Web, smartphones, and more. It is these tools that form the foundations of any tech business. The beauty of these inventions is that they serve as equalizers between men and women - anyone utilizing them can potentially start their own business, no matter their gender.
We are fortunate enough to live in an era where technology is tearing down barriers and empowering women to pursue their dreams. We have the tools and we have the potential to start our own business, now all that is left is to get out there and get started. For those considering taking this leap, here are a few personal and practical suggestion that helped me build my startup and that I hope will help you along your journey.
- Personal Preparation:
- Play to your Passions and Skills:
Persistence and Flexibility:
Know Your Target Audience:
One of the main benefits of starting your own business is that you are only accountable to yourself. There is no longer a boss pushing and incentivizing you to work, only self motivation. This requires significant self awareness. The following is a basic mental framework for women to follow in order to become a successful entrepreneur:
Our personal limitations are one of the greatest barriers we face and addressing them through self improvement is the first step a female entrepreneur must take. Only after we understand our limits, can we set out to overcome them. Through determination, goal setting, honest reflection, and challenging ourselves everyday, we can develop a stronger sense of self and confidence in our abilities. Once we understand who we are, we can better manage ourselves, lead our employees, and steer our businesses successfully through the many challenges startups face.
While self confidence and constant internal improvement are essential for the aspiring entrepreneur, they are not sufficient in today’s business climate marked by constant technological improvements. Entrepreneurs must be passionate about their chosen field and build on their existing skills. If they choose a business segment in which they have no expertise or burning interest for, the learning curve will be much higher for them, and this may result in failure. However, when entrepreneurs plan their business around issues they are passionate about or know well, they will have the wherewithal to tackle and surmount any learning curve they may face.
Starting a business can be grueling and unforgiving work, with failures and disappointments common along the path. It’s important for the entrepreneur to not lose sight of their ultimates goals, and keep moving forward. Developing a mindset for accepting failures with a view to correcting them in the future is a crucial attribute for an entrepreneur. This entails knowing when to adjust strategies to deal with the sudden and unforeseen. The path to a successful startup is not a straight road, but rather a winding climb with many turns and ups and downs. A nimble entrepreneur will be the one who can adjust with the journey’s curves without losing site of their final destination.
During the startup planning phase, entrepreneurs need to have a realistic idea as to the amount of fixed expenses they will have like rent, employee salaries, utility bills, inventory, equipment, insurance, etc. For these fixed costs, founders need to find and secure enough funding options to support their actual business activities. While this may come off as trivial, it is nearly impossible to change the world with your startup when you can’t afford to keep the lights on.
Data is everything. The more we know about our target audience, the better we can address their needs. Entrepreneurs should find and collate all relevant data about their audience that they can, and utilize this information to improve their decision making process. Our society is constantly changing, making this a continuous task that must be carried on with constant diligence. A well informed decision is the best kind of decision.
While the title of this post calls out to women entrepreneurs, the tips provided are not specific to women and for good reason. Female entrepreneurs are no different from our male counterparts. Technology has become the great equalizer in our generation. Women have the tools, and the will, to lead and succeed in the startup world. The place is here and the time is now for women to take their rightful and equal place among leading entrepreneurs. So take this advice and get started - only we can bring about the change we want to see in the world!