The successful female entrepreneur is a survivor. She has developed the skills to endure all kinds of adversity. The ability to communicate is one of the most important.
For women, the entrepreneurial landscape has some tough challenges. They derive mostly from a culture which has not matured to the point where male and female entrepreneurs and executives are represented equally. Today, many business and employment coaches recognize the need for change, and are focusing on issues related to communication and gender.
The entrepreneur’s ability to communicate can be broken down into five main skills:
A recent article in the Boston Globe issues a call to action for current venture capital firms to invest in women as well as for women to begin their own venture capital firms due to the current lack of funding by private companies for female entrepreneurs. They cited Jules Pieri, a former executive of Stride Rite and Continuum, who, when pitching her e-commerce site, was met with sexism and was not being taken seriously. Therefore, the Globe suggest women create their own firms following the lead of 10+ female entrepreneurs in Boston and for current male venture capitalists to step into the 21st century and realize how valuable female entrepreneurs truly are.
In addition, the U.S. government's Small Business Administration conducted an extensive report on funding women-led businesses, or WLBs. The report concluded that venture capital firms that invested in WLBs lead to positive return on investment, but found that the male-dominant venture capital industry fails to invest in women as frequently because the women are not in their network. The report also shows that because WLBs do so well, there is a lot of "untapped potential for innovation, job creation, and other economic contributions."
With all this in mind, here are some tips to beat the bias and help you get investors:
1) Dress for the part
Luckily for men, they have a socially mandated "uniform" (i.e. suit and tie, slacks and collared shirt, etc). However, women have a broad spectrum of choices, and sometimes clothes can be a hindrance to women whether it distracts the audience or the outfit is uncomfortable to wear. Find workwear that tailors to your job, your needs, and your taste and then stick with what works best. If you feel confident and prepared then it will lead to noticeable confidence.
2) Be confident and assertive
Presentation is key. Ensure that during a presentation you speak with confidence and assert your knowledge and the quality of your product. Just like with clothing, if you act confident then you will be more convincing with the investors!
The SBA study found that a lot of firms preferred to invest where they felt "safe" or a sense of familiarity with the company. If you, even as a woman, have contacts with members of their network, that will automatically increase your chances of accruing some money for your project. Attending annual events like our MACsWomen Summit where we bring women entrepreneurs in front of corporate sponsors and high-level professionals is a perfect opportunity to network and practice your pitching skills in front of an expert panel.
4) Find common interests
Common ground will form a solid base upon which you can form that essential network. If you can talk about sports, news, or politics with your investors then they will be more likely to form a connection and be more receptive to your pitches in the future.
Some women entrepreneurs are more successful than others. You may attribute their success to their well-honed skills, experience and smarts. But there’s one major linchpin that plays a huge part to many successful women in business, and that is: networking.
Ask any successful women entrepreneurs you meet and most of them, if not all, will tell you that the secret to their achievements is relationship building through networking. If you still need a bit more convincing on how a business tool like networking can propel your business forward, read on.
Why Networking Is Your Most Powerful Leverage to Achieve Your Growth Goals
Having been part of many networking events in New York and other parts of the country, the following are just some of the many great advantages that we at MACs Women’s Group have enormously enjoyed.
1. Build strategic partnerships
As the adage goes: “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” This is especially true in business. And there’s no other best way to meet potential joint venture partners than business networking events, in which you’ll get a lot of great opportunities to establish connections.
2. Raise your business profile
Want to expand your brand presence? Participating in social events and business summits give you the boost you need to make your brand known by mavens and “sneezers”. You can then establish yourself as the go-to expert or supplier.
3. Access to new products and ideas
Imagine meeting successful women entrepreneurs, startups, business influencers, thought leaders and leading experts in various industries under just one roof. That’s a tremendous collection of brain power right there, where you’ll encounter great ideas and discover new products.
4. Generate referrals
The best thing with networking is that it often yields high quality leads and referrals. That is why many business owners want to attend this kind of event just for the referrals alone, which for most of them are enough rewards, or return on investment.
5. Discover golden nuggets
Business summits feature inspiring and knowledgeable speakers who can augment your knowledge and stimulate your mind. You’ll learn new things and acquire golden nuggets and creative ideas that you can use for your business.
6. Understand your market better
Aside from brushing shoulders with successful business owners and startups, you’ll also get a great chance to talk to industry experts and potential customers, or even other business organizations similar to yours, and find out what challenges they are facing, new products that have potential value and market opportunities.
7. Get free help
Many entrepreneurial women we met during and after a networking event often remarked how surprised they were at the willingness of the participants to help each other. This kind of attitude is very contagious that you can't help but also want to offer any help you can.
That’s the power of getting together – a fellowship of self-motivated individuals – with a goal of helping each other to become better and achieve their goal. It generates a positive, very inspiring energy that can go a long way to your entrepreneurial journey.
Want to level up your business? Join the upcoming MACs Women's Summit & EXPO and start building a huge business network filled with like-minded people and industry leaders who can connect you to new markets, more talents and money.
Get these five great confidence-boosting tips to grow your small business.
Self-confidence is a key to growing your business and achieving your goals. But many entrepreneurs, if not all, suffer from the lack of it at some point of their career, especially when they’re dealing with a difficult market.
This is the number one reason why we need time to synergize, step away from the arena for a little bit to get some perspectives, and go back to the drawing board.
Here are smart steps to develop a more confident entrepreneur in you:
Today is Commitment day!
WE all love hearing the words I do. I will. I promise. I vow. Sure, they are all lovely words and have long raised sweet feelings of assurance and hopefulness. They have been used in wedding vows and other such rituals for a very long time. Today is the day when you show that special person in your life how much they mean to you by committing to them in some way, because this is a business blog post for women entrepreneurs, we will look at it from that perspective.
How are you going to show your business how much making it a success means to you? What are you committing to today for your business? How much does it mean to you to truly succeed at what you've set out to accomplish? Maybe there’s a new product or service you've been meaning to launch (or stop!) for a long while — Today, Commitment Day, is your chance to affirm and do just that! “I’m going to ____________ and I am going to stick with it!”
Ladies, that is the first step, get committed to your vision, to your success. We are very excited for you and would to hear about your goal for your business. Let us know below in the comments what you are committing to for this year and we will champion you along. After all, you need to make the commitment real by telling it to someone else who will check in on you and keep you accountable. We are happy to do just that!
Here’s to you committing to achieving your success, whatever it might be, and to an amazing year!
In a previous post: What Does Your Signature Say About Your Brand
I created an impromptu video of how to use Wisestamp to easily brand your signature. Linda, asked a great question in her comments to us: "how do you incorporate the signature into your email program after you've created it."
In this post, I am going to share the easy steps to take to manually insert your signature once you have created it. You can watch the video here, and come back to these easy implementation steps.
Manual insertion: When composing a new email, click the WiseStamp icon in the webmail toolbar and choose the signature you wish to insert.
Alternatively or when not found:
Click on the WiseStamp icon located in your browser (Chrome - Top right near wrench icon, Firefox - bottom right or on mouse right click) and select your relevant signature.
These steps can be found on the Wisestamp website here.
Business networking can provide your business the life support it needs. It is therefore important that you attend the right networking event, know the DO’s and DON’Ts of successful networking, and to always dress for success whenever attending one.
How you dress when meeting potential investors, sponsors, JV partners or clients can have a significant effect on their first impression of you. And because you represent your business, whatever impression you project to others will affect how your business is perceived by them.
Having said that, here are some practical tips on how to wear the right outfit to the next networking event or business conference you’ll be attending:
1. Wear neutral colors. Avoid wearing bright colors as they’re too loud and can distract people during conversations. Yes, you need to stand out to get noticed, just make sure that you’re not noticed for the wrong reasons.
Opt for an outfit with neutral colors such as white, cream, navy, black or gray. To make sure that you don’t look too dull, accessorize. For men, a nicely colored tie would do. For women, a chic scarf, bracelet or a sleek clutch.
2. Wear matching outfits. Try to match the garments you’re wearing by color design or texture. If you’re wearing a blouse with polka dots don’t match it with a pinstriped skirt. Well-matched outfits make you look competent and polished.
3. Minimal cleavage. Avoid wearing low-cut dresses which shows too much cleavage. If there’s an after-event party that you plan to attend, then try to cover it up with a scarf or a buttoned-up cardigan while the event is still ongoing.
Wear something that projects confidence, intelligence and competence without being too stiff; something professional, yet comfortable. Above all, wear your most confident smile.
Over to you..
Any more tips you want to add? Please comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.