Beyond the Glass Ceiling: 7 Habits of Highly Successful Female Entrepreneurs
US businesses owned by women are growing at a phenomenal rate. But women in business tend to face different challenges than their male counterparts, and are far less likely to reach the million dollar mark. Based on a study of over 750 women in business, this article details some of the habits of highly successful female entrepreneurs—and how to emulate their secrets for success.
Over the past 20 years, the number of businesses owned by women has grown by more than 42%. In fact, in 2008, women-owned firms accounted for more than 1.9 trillion dollars in sales.
But while more and more women are eager to become small business owners, they're also still facing more challenges than men. Businesses owned by women are nearly 50% less likely to reach the million dollar mark—and often produce less return on investment for hours worked.
A new study by Michele DeKinder-Smith, market research professional and founder of the website www.janeoutofthebox.com, has recently released a study that reveals five different types of female entrepreneurs. Each personality type has a different approach to business, along with different strengths and challenges.
Success can be defined in many ways and it's clear that each of the five types have their own definition of success. Taken overall, if we consider business revenue and personal satisfaction with work/life balance, one might say that the type that is most conventionally successful is the type known as "Jane Dough".
Why should we pay attention to Jane Dough? Comprising 18% of all female entrepreneurs, she's five times as likely to hit the million dollar mark as the average female entrepreneur. She's also one of the groups most satisfied with her work/life balance. So, if growing a large business while working reasonable hours is important to a business owner, she can learn from Jane Dough's characteristics, behaviors and decisions.
Here are some of the traits that tend to make Jane Dough so successful.
1) Focus on growth
Running a business is filled with a ton of minor details, every day of every year. But Jane Dough has learned how to personally stay focused on the big picture: growing her business. This means getting past the details, the billable hours and the overdue invoices—and paying attention to the process of getting (and handling!) more business, in less time.
2) Building teams and systems
Jane Dough knows there's only so much a woman can do by herself. Because business growth is an important goal, she's learned how to build a team and delegate responsibility. This means using systems that create leverage and prevent her from falling victim to the 'dollars for hours' trap.
Along with a focus on growth and systems, Jane Dough tends to prioritize those activities that will make her the most amount of money with the least amount of personal time expended.
4) Looking ahead
How does Jane Dough stay so focused on exactly what she needs to do to grow a successful business? Well, many of these women started their companies with a big vision and/or they are intentionally building a business they can later sell or pass on to their children. These big, longer-term priorities help her stay consistently focused on the big picture.
5) Putting in the hours—but leaving work at work
Jane Dough is the type of entrepreneur who's willing to put in the hours it takes to make her business successful. However, unlike some other types of female entrepreneurs, for whom business can be intensely personal, Jane Dough understands that work is work and that tomorrow is another day. Because she's supported herself with systems that give her the flexibility to problem-solve when she needs to, she feels confident that she can and will be able to manage things during the hours she has designated for work. Yes, she might check her email in the evening after she's home, but she's not going to consistently find herself spending her personal time as a slave to demanding customers. Her ability to mentally keep work and personal life reasonably separated and her perspective and confidence that she can solve any problems tomorrow contributes to her higher-than-average work/life balance.
6) Confidence in marketing and selling
While many women in business express concerns about their ability to successfully market their business for profitability, Jane Dough is highly confident in selling both herself and her business. This confidence (which can be learned!) is a major factor in her financial success.
When the going gets tough, Jane Dough stays focused, and doesn't let doubt creep in. She tends to view challenges and setbacks objectively rather than personally, and keeps focused on her big picture goals. Jane Dough loves her business and she keeps it in perspective, as well.
Interested in learning more about the five Jane types and which Jane you are? Check out www.janeoutofthebox.com.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michele DeKinder-Smith is the founder of Jane out of the Box, an online resource dedicated to the women entrepreneur community. Offering networking and marketing opportunities, key resources and mentorship from successful women in business, Jane Out of the Box is online at www.janeoutofthebox.com.