Starting a business is exciting but it can be overwhelming too, and that can be especially true for women. If you’re looking to start a business, remember: you’re not alone. In fact, female founders are the fastest-growing category of entrepreneurs worldwide. This means two things:
- You can get advice from women who’ve helped pave the way
- And, there are a growing number of women entrepreneurs with whom you can share your journey. (1)
No matter what your goals are—whether you want to stay small and local, or become a major corporate player—it pays to make sure you know what resources are available to you, and what strategies will help you succeed.
Get the help and resources you’ll need to run a business
There are lots of groups providing resources for new business owners, and some specialize in helping women entrepreneurs. These resources can be especially helpful if you have an idea but aren’t sure how to turn it into a business.
Start with a quick search for groups in your area. For example, some local governments offer free resources to business owners, including guides and templates. If, on the other hand, you need more specific help, you might benefit from working with a company that tailors their services to your needs. For example, if you need to know more about the legal side of owning a business, a company like Inc and Go could help you gain valuable insights.
Speaking of specific advice, if you’re looking for help tailored to female entrepreneurs, consider joining groups with that focus. There’s a whole community of female leaders that can help you achieve your goals. Some organizations with a focus on the experience of women in business include:
- The American Business Women’s Association (ABWA)
- TED for Women (2)
It pays to reach out early on, as the help you receive in the beginning stages of your business will pay dividends later on.
Don’t be afraid to fail at the beginning
Even though starting strong is important, don’t let a fear of failure stifle you. It’s normal to worry that your business will go unnoticed or fail to turn a profit; however, it can help to reframe what “success” means. Mistakes are inevitable, but if you respond to them in the right way, you can help your business grow.
Research has found that failure is a vital step in the learning process. When you fail to achieve something, you have a chance to reflect on what went wrong and to discover a better way to approach the same task in the future. (3)
For example, if your marketing campaign didn’t attract many new customers, don’t just write the whole thing off. Instead, look at the details of the campaign and see what you might have done differently. Maybe a focus group could help you reevaluate the visuals you used or the way the copy was written. Ultimately, you should find ways to build on, rather than ignore, your mistakes.
Around 90% of startups fail, so if you want to be in that successful 10% it’s important to learn from missteps and build something better. Two ways you can do so are:
- Create a product that’s right for the market—If what you’re offering isn’t quite there, do more market research and adjust the product as required.
- Know how to bounce back—When you fail, don’t obsess over it. Instead, take the feedback on board and move forward. (4)
Know your target audience
Before you launch your business, it’s important to have a clear target audience in mind. Identifying this early can help you create a product that will sell, and can make your marketing more cost-effective.
Here are three tips that will help you target your pitch:
- Don’t go too broad—Targeting really is key. If you go too broad early on, you’ll waste time and resources when you can least afford to.
- Understand what your customers want—The more you learn about your customers, the better you can ensure you’re meeting their needs.
- Use the right communication channels—If you send the right message on the wrong channel, you’ll miss your target. (5)
Define your brand values and stick to them
For many customers today, a company’s values are just as important as the products they sell. Take a moment to consider the values your business will have. Once you’ve articulated those values, they should help guide you as you make important decisions for your business. While you may have several priorities, it can help to choose one or two key ones and focus on those. Some examples include:
- Promoting women
- Donating a portion of your profits to a charity
Demonstrating your company’s social awareness can attract new customers and keep existing ones. In short, identifying some key values, communicating them to your customers, and using them to help guide your business decisions will have positive long-term impacts. (6)
Believe in yourself and your business
While it may sound like a cliché, believing in yourself really does matter. Why? Feeling confident in your ability to accomplish something makes you more likely to put effort into making it a reality, and to continue pursuing it to completion.
Some healthy self-confidence will also help you enjoy your work and maintain a positive outlook. A study from 2011 found that students’ self-efficacy—i.e., their belief in their ability to accomplish something—had a positive effect on their academic results. This insight has applications for success in business as well. (7)
Consider trying these strategies to increase your own self-efficacy:
- Keep a gratitude journal to “count your wins.”
- Practice affirmations to stay positive.
- Turn negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, change “I didn’t get the funding I wanted from the investor” to “I know what I need to do to get funding next time.”
If you feel like you’re losing confidence in yourself, take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you can do this.
To sum things up:
- Take advantage of the resources available to you and identify your target audience.
- Defining your brand’s values will help your audience know what you believe in and will affect your overall brand.
- Keep in mind that failing is a chance to become better, and always believe in yourself.
There are a lot of things to think about when starting a new business, but following the five tips above will help you get off on the right foot. Putting time and effort into building a strong, stable foundation for your new venture will help you as your company grows.