Women entrepreneurs are a power to be reckoned with. According to the 2016 State of Women Owned Businesses report, in 2016 the 11.3 million U.S. businesses owned by women employed nearly 9 million people and generated over $1.6 trillion in revenues.
More good news: revenues of women-owned firms are growing faster than revenues of businesses overall—increasing by 35% since 2007. But there’s still a “glass ceiling” when it comes to revenues: NAWBO reports that just one in five businesses with annual revenues of $1 million or more is woman-owned.
Of course, some women-owned businesses have lower sales simply because they aren’t trying to become the next Starbucks. Many women (and men) entrepreneurs just like the flexibility of being their own bosses and aren’t driven by visions of world domination. But if you're one of those women entrepreneurs who does dream of being the next Mark Zuckerberg—or Martha Stewart—here are three things to help get you there.
1. Delegate. Women-owned businesses are less likely than businesses owned by men to have employees, according to the State of Women Owned Businesses report. But a one-person business can only grow to the limits of your abilities and available time. What’s more, solopreneurs get so bogged down in daily details and administration they have less time to devote to important daily tasks and long-term strategizing.
You don’t have to hire employees to delegate. Using independent contractors or freelancers can deliver many of the same benefits without the costs or headaches. But don’t assume you can't afford to hire, either. Assess your current workload, the potential for growth and how quickly an employee’s salary would recoup itself in new business. You may be surprised at how fast the investment in staff pays off.
2. Don’t fear debt. You’ve got to spend money to make money. If you don’t have the money to spend, you may need to borrow it. Many entrepreneurs try to avoid debt like the plague. However, just like in our personal financial lives, when it comes to running a business, there’s good debt and bad debt. Taking out a mortgage to become a homeowner is good debt; charging your credit card up to the limit eating at fancy restaurants is bad debt.
When used wisely, business debt can be a valuable tool that helps you grow your business by purchasing inventory, equipment or assets you otherwise couldn’t afford. Before taking on debt, be sure you know what you’ll use the money for and the expected return on that investment. Also shop around for the best loan terms you can find.
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3. Partner with other businesses. Teaming up with other businesses in a strategic partnership lets you add new capabilities to your offerings. Look for a complementary business that provides products or services your customers want. For example, my content development business partners with a couple of website design firms. Since businesses in the market for website design often need content, and vice versa, partnering lets both our businesses access new customers and offer existing customers new services.
You can form a long-term strategic partnership or a short-term partnership focused on one project or serving one client. Make sure you trust your partner and the quality of their work. For each engagement, put a contract in place to clearly define the terms of the relationship, including potentially contentious issues like responsibilities, deliverables and compensation.
Make It a Million
Whether you want to grow a million-dollar business or simply boost your current sales, the three tactics above will help you achieve your financial goals.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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