We’ve spent a great deal of time interviewing and interacting with entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Their collective experiences are a priceless resource for each of us working hard to increase the value we bring to the table for our customers, clients, investors and businesses. Tapping into this invaluable resource, we’ve asked some of our past entrepreneur interviewees the following question.
Leigh Keith, Perfect Foods Research Corporation:
I feel one issue that women deal with in business is knowing how to effectively communicate with men. I was raised by an old-school dad who was the sole-provider and head of the household, and I had to learn at an early age how to confidently communicate with him to get my points across. So when my brother and I first started our business, we made a pact to treat each other as equals and to work alongside each other. Having set that expectation from day one has allowed me to go into relationships with the expectation of equality and mutual respect — which I think has helped me build strong business relationships with both men and women. I’ll admit though, sometimes there can be a little bit of a “boys club” with the old-school guys, but the years working alongside my brother has helped me learn to communicate with them effectively – even if I can’t keep up on the golf course.
Sara Sutton Fell, FlexJobs
One of the biggest challenge for today’s women business owners and entrepreneurs is finding a way to productively integrate — and even embrace – the very differences that make us distinct from men business owners and entrepreneurs: the more emotional, intuitive, and complex parts of our female nature. One of the best and most exciting elements of entrepreneurialism are the diversities you’re allowed – you can start a business doing anything, you can choose how you want to do it, with whom, and how you want to run your company. I believe that women need to occasionally remind themselves that they can and should be a woman in the business world, and do things with a female touch, with women’s intuition, and with a mother’s caring… and that not only can that be okay, it can actually be better, than the traditional way of doing business.
For me, I have come up against this many times in my career, both as a naïve 21 year old first time female entrepreneur in a world of old-school businessmen to a seasoned female entrepreneur (mompreneur even) carving my own path. I have risen to the challenge of staying true to the female side of myself by really listening to and valuing my instincts, which root themselves in what makes sense and what feels right. Time and time again I’ve learned that my instincts are often different, in a more perhaps emotionally-connected way, and I’ve also learned that it works for me and for my teams. To highlight this, one of the most valued compliments I’ve received (and I’ve been extremely lucky to hear it multiple times) is that a company I created allowed someone to have “the best job ever”.
Sarah Evans, Sevans Strategy
Although women now comprise roughly half of American workers and earn nearly 60 percent of university degrees, only 24 percent of the people heard or read about in print, radio and television news are female (sources: economist.com, whomakesthenews.com). The top challenge today’s female business owners and entrepreneurs face is how to get sourced and make an impression.
Coupling a background in public relations with building meaningful social media relationships with journalists, bloggers and other influential friends, I’ve been able to start and run Sevans Strategy from the ground up, not only creating online and media visibility for myself, but bringing in results for clients as well.
Much of this is done through developing a strong strategy that includes traditional and social media tactics, identifying story opportunities and using publicity and publishing to build your own story.
It’s become one of my online causes to help educate others learn how to get sourced and to share media opportunities whenever possible.
I think the top challenge of female entrepreneurs and business owners is playing in the big leagues. We often don’t think big enough or even get the same acknowledgement as our male peers. We exacerbate the problem by creating “special interest leagues” (i.e. women’s only networking groups, etc.). I have made a conscious effort to make sure I am maximizing the value of my time by pursuing endeavors that are worth the opportunity cost of my time and effort and making sure that I integrate myself with both male and female peers instead of segregating myself like many women do.
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