Mentoring young women is something I am passionate about. I jump at every chance to speak at high schools and colleges, encouraging young women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
Being a woman entrepreneur has its unique challenges, but it also comes with unique rewards. It’s just a matter of finding the right path to success. To help young women find that path, I offer the following three pieces of advice every woman entrepreneur should know before starting their own business.
1. Don’t go it alone.
“Networking” often gets a bad rap among small business owners. It can conjure up images of awkward breakfast meetings, or of being pushy and salesy with everyone from friends to strangers. That kind of networking, as everyone knows, just isn’t effective.
Every small business owner needs a supportive network in order to succeed, but there are several different forms that network can take. Reaching out to successful leaders in your field for advice and mentorship can be an invaluable resource. Asking friends, family and even online connections for the help or advice they are uniquely qualified to give can also be a lifesaver. And sometimes, hiring someone is the answer, whether that’s an experienced freelancer who can take on some of the work or a consultant to give you a fresh perspective. You can even create your own network from scratch online by starting a Facebook Group or building an audience on another social media platform. Don’t ever feel that you have to go it alone – you’ll find success much more quickly and easily with a network to support you.
Networking on Bank of America Small Business Community page: Introduce Yourself
2. Treat your business like a business from the beginning.
Sometimes it can be tempting to start your business as more of a hobby than an actual business venture. You can test the waters, the thinking goes, see how it does, without wasting too much time or money on it, or disrupting the status quo, if it’s not a home run.
The problem is when you’re not investing your all into a business, it will almost never do as well as you hope. You’re actually shortchanging yourself and your business by not giving it the attention it deserves. The only way to reach success is to give it 110% - no risk, no reward. Of course, this doesn’t mean instantly quitting your day job and selling your house in order to invest in your business idea – but it does mean approaching your business as a business from the very start, in every aspect, from finances to marketing to the amount of time you spend on it.
3. Don’t be afraid to be authentic.
Women entrepreneurs have a unique set of skills and abilities to bring to the business world, but they sometimes feel they need to hide their true selves in order to succeed. Whether they think they have to act like “one of the boys” to make it big, or suffer from imposter syndrome - feeling that they’re not qualified enough to be successful - women can often be reluctant to let their authentic selves shine through in their businesses.
In truth, nothing could be worse for their businesses! Allowing your true personality to show, and even guide your business, is one of the most effective ways to differentiate yourself, make real connections with your audience and achieve success. Today more than ever, consumers want to hear your story, know why your business is different and develop a meaningful relationship with the companies they do business with. Letting your personality shine is the best way to help them do just that.
Through strategic networking, approaching their business as a business and showcasing their authentic self rather than hiding it, women entrepreneurs can achieve success. And don’t forget – once you hit that level of success you’ve been striving for, pay it forward, and help another woman entrepreneur up the ladder, too.
About Shama Hyder
Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group–a global online marketing and digital PR company. She has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country. Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers for 2015.LinkedIn named Hyder one of its “Top Voices” in Marketing & Social Media. Her web show Shama TV was awarded the “Hermes Gold award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media” and most recently she was awarded the “Excellence in Social Media Entrepreneurship” award for 2016 by Anokhi Media.
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