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In 2015, the number of women-owned firms increased again. Women now own about 30 percent of U.S. businesses and employ nearly 8 million workers. Businesses owned by women provide one in seven jobs in privately-owned businesses, reports Womenable.com.
It’s not uncommon for women to face unique challenges, especially when trying to juggle traditional roles of wife and mother with the demands of starting and running a business. Over the years as a business owner myself, and through training women to run their own etiquette businesses, I have learned a few tips that may help women looking to start a business.
1. Find your passion.
You are going to spend many long hours working in and on your business, so pick an industry that you don’t just like, but are passionate about. When you are passionate, it shows, and your enthusiasm and belief in what you are doing translates to your customers, sparking their enthusiasm about what you are offering.
2. Fit your business to your personal goals.
Are you looking to work part time to supplement the family income or work around the children’s schedules or are you focused on building a full-time business? Is money or freedom the goal, or both? There’s no rule that you have to work a full-time schedule when you run a business — start a boutique business or work as a consultant. Choose a business and business style that suits your picture of a fulfilling life.
3. Keep your home and work life separate.
It is important to set aside time for both personal and work lives, in order to give each the attention it deserves. Set specific office hours and unless there is an emergency, stick to them. Train yourself to work during office hours and do not accept calls or check emails after hours. Your customers and clients will also conform to your schedule as long as you stick to it. That means not calling or emailing others after hours. Create a separate work area, whether inside the home or in outside office space, and shut the door to the office after hours.
4. Embrace technology.
Don’t let the lure of an incoming message get you off track, whether you are concentrating on a project or spending quality time with your loved ones. Let emails wait until morning or check them at certain times of the day only, allow your voicemail to take calls, and employ auto responders. Let technology work for you.
5. Form genuine connections.
It can be difficult to work alone, so the connections you make will prove invaluable, and not only for business. Find a mentor or create a women’s support group and share your ideas, goals and frustrations. Use the “village” to help you navigate the business landscape. Join a women’s business association such as the National Association of Business Owners (NAWBO) or the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) for professional support and resources.
6. Define your brand.
Carefully define your brand: what does it look like and what does it stand for? And stick to it. Make everything you do and offer conform to the brand, from color schemes, logo design, packaging, correspondence, and presentations, to customer service, and the company culture and mission. Do not deviate from your brand. It is the message and consistency by which your clients know, remember and trust you.
Having your own business is an adventure, so embrace the challenges and rewards it offers.