A recent study, The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Women’s Report, released in November 2015 reveals that female entrepreneurship is on the rise around the world. According to the report, the gender gap has already narrowed by six percent since 2012, with Millennial women entrepreneurs ages 25-34 leading the way.
Per the Center for American Progress, women make up 52 percent of all professional level jobs, but hold only 14.6 percent of executive positions. This management gender gap is improving, albeit slowly, with many ambitious young women taking matters into their own hands – by starting and leading their own companies.
As a young female entrepreneur, you may feel intimidated or afraid to take the leap and start your own business, or you might not know where to start. I can list all of the well-known phrases for you, (“without risk, there is no reward”, “the journey starts with the first step”, etc.). Even though they are cliché, they are still very true. You need to put yourself out there, take chances and work hard.
Here are a few “first steps” you can take to start your journey as a successful woman entrepreneur:
1. Use Your Knowledge of Technology to Your Advantage
You have more access to – and expertise in using –technology than any previous generations. Data gives you real-time information on progress, simplifies the big picture, and helps you focus on critical metrics. Social media makes it easier than ever to build awareness about your company, your products, and your vision, and helps grow your network.
2. Do Your Research
Learn what’s working, what’s not, and find out the needs of your market. Talk to authorities in your field, use the internet to gain knowledge and data. Figure out how you can create something fresh and original before drawing up a formal business plan.
3. Network and Speak with Other Women Entrepreneurs
Be inspired by success stories of other female entrepreneurs who’ve had the confidence to pursue their dreams. Get to meet them if you can, attend conferences, TED Talks, read about them, connect with them on social media; appreciate the value of networking to gain investors, new leads, and to find the top people to join you in your venture.
4. Choose Your Cofounder/ & Team Wisely
It’s not a particularly good idea to start a company with a best friend; nor for that matter, with a total stranger. It’s nice to share a common background, but trusting and respecting your partner is also vital. Successful partnerships are built on complementary skills, real-world experience, and a shared vision and commitment. The same can be said for your investors, advisors, and team members. Don’t just choose the first people who come along. You should genuinely like and respect the people you work with. After all, you’re going to spend a large part of your waking hours with them.
5. Be Confident, Brave and Believe in Yourself
Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs were turned down by investors or potential supporters. J. K. Rowling approached more than a dozen publishers before somebody picked up her children’s book about a boy wizard! Remember, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince! Project confidence in your company or product and what it has to offer. Create a clear mission, build a team that will stick by you and then live by your core values.
6. “There Is No Time Like the Present”
There I go again with those cliché phrases, but you really don’t need to (and shouldn’t!) wait to start your own business – use your youth and inexperience as an opportunity. Time and youth are among the most precious advantages for an entrepreneur. You will gain the experience you may feel you lack pretty quickly. Right now, you have the time to make mistakes, improve, and gain focus and more knowledge. You have less to lose at this moment than you will 10 years from now.
You have the tools, intuition, and technological experience you need to go out and start your business. Following these 6 tips helped me start my own business, and I’m sure doing so will also help you take your business to the next level and get closer achieving your entrepreneurial goals.