Design the Future: Planning Steps for Three Types of Female Entrepreneurs
Because diverse entrepreneurs have different definitions of success, they also have unique needs when it comes to planning for their business’ future. This article outlines the steps that three types of female entrepreneurs might consider taking to develop plans for their business’ future.
Every business owner creates her own definition of success. Whether she strives for growth over time, or just wants to maintain what she has well into the future, one key aspect of achieving success is planning. Just as every business owner creates her own definition of success, every business owner must also create her own plan to take her business from where it is now, to where she wants it to be.
A recent study from Jane Out of the Box, an authority on female entrepreneurs, reveals there are five distinct types of women in business. Based on professional market research of more than 2,500 women in business, this study shows that each type of business owner has a unique approach to running a business, and therefore, each one has a unique combination of needs. This article outlines three of the five types and provides advice about planning steps that meet the needs of the business owner and the business, now and in the future.
Jane Dough is an entrepreneur who enjoys running her business and generally, she makes a nice living. She is comfortable and determined in buying and selling, which may be why she's five times more likely than the average female business owner to hit the million dollar mark. Jane Dough is clear in her priorities and may be intentionally and actively growing an asset-based or legacy business. It is estimated that 18% of women entrepreneurs fall in the category of Jane Dough.
Of all five types of entrepreneurs, Jane Dough is the most likely to have a plan for her business. She is driven to create a large business that has a life beyond herself and her own needs and interests. She enjoys strategizing and planning for long-term growth, and is great at delegating smaller tasks so she has the time she needs to do that. One of Jane Dough’s challenges, though, is that her visions are often on a large scale, and she doesn’t communicate them effectively to members of her team. They may be scrambling behind her, talking to each other in an effort to figure it all out. Each person may receive only parts of the story, and they speculate about her expectations and what she is doing, in an effort to anticipate her needs. This speculation and confusion can create havoc for Jane Dough and her business, and can slow down the progress of the plans she is making.
Here are some tips for Jane Dough on better communicating her vision and more effectively carrying out her plans:
· Schedule semi-annual business planning retreats. Not only will semi-annual planning retreats keep Jane Dough focused on the gap between her current situation and her goals (which naturally shift as time passes), it also will provide her with regular, specific opportunities to communicate her vision to her team members – all at once. Communicating that vision provides team members with a cohesive overall landscape of the anticipated future. Also, giving team members the chance to brainstorm about challenges, new product or service ideas or strategies for improving operations provides Jane Dough with insight from the people on the front lines.
· Create a hiring plan for the longer-term vision. Breadth and depth on a team will help a Jane Dough business owner realize the kind of growth for which she strives. A hiring plan, then, will allow Jane Dough to be effective in building strength into her organization. A well-constructed hiring plan takes into account the types of personalities a business owner enjoys working with, as well as the specific set of skills she needs in order to move her business to the next level. Draw an organizational chart detailing how each position fits with the others, and list below each position, the personality traits and skill sets it requires. With this plan at her fingertips, Jane Dough will find it easier to locate opportunities for the right people.
· Systematically track key performance metrics. To grow her business quickly and long-term, a business owner must understand the gaps that exist between where her company is today, and where she wants it to be. To gain that understanding, it is imperative to create clear, measurable goals, and to track the company’s performance against those goals. For example, if a Jane Dough wants to grow her business 10 percent in the next year, she may use several strategies to meet that goal. She may change copy or design elements of her web site to sell her product more effectively. She may advertise to increase traffic to her web site. She could also test a direct mail campaign to prospects who have opted-in on her web site, but haven’t followed up with a purchase. Each of these options is measurable, and Jane Dough can track each one to determine whether it is contributing to growth – and if so, by how much. She then can direct resources to the most effective strategy.
Go Jane Go is passionate about her work and provides excellent service, so she has plenty of clients – so much so, she's struggling to keep up with demand. At 14% of women in business, she may be a classic overachiever, taking on volunteer opportunities as well. She’s eager to make an impact on the world and she often struggles to say no. Since she wants to say yes to so many people, she may even be in denial about how many hours she actually works during the course of a week. As a result, she may be running herself ragged and feeling guilty about neglecting herself and others who are important to her.
Undoubtedly the busiest type of business owner, more than a quarter of the original 2500 researched reported working more than 50 hours per week. For most Go Jane Go entrepreneurs, business is thriving – so much so, it can be overwhelming. At first glance, it may appear that Go Jane Go doesn’t really need to plan – business is booming, her income is high, and she has (almost) more customers than she can handle. However, creating a plan may help Go Jane Go feel less overwhelmed and therefore increase her personal satisfaction.
Here are some planning tips for Go Jane Go:
Merry Jane is an entrepreneur who is usually building a part-time or "flexible time" business that gives her a creative outlet (whether she's an ad agency consultant or she makes beautiful artwork) that she can manage within specific constraints around her schedule. She may have a day-job, or need to be fully present for family or other pursuits. Representing about 19% of women in business, she realizes she could make more money by working longer hours, but she's happy with the tradeoff she has made because her business gives her tremendous freedom to work how and when she wants, around her other commitments.
A majority of Merry Jane-run businesses serve as outlets for expressing creativity and skills, and staying connected to professional interests, regardless of bigger priorities. Merry Jane business owners tend to judge success by different standards than other business owners. For example, Merry Jane appreciates the flexibility to work when, where and as much as she wants. She strives to meet all her obligations well, enjoys being recognized for her gifts and talents, and relishes the freedom to say no. And when this entrepreneurial type talks about making a contribution to the household, she’s talking more than money: from running her house to running her business and everything in between, Merry Jane’s systems-oriented style keeps her busy and on task – and gives her less time than most other business owner types to work on her business. So for Merry Jane, planning is a function of balance: she wants more customers – but not too many.
Here are some tips Merry Jane may consider when planning for her future:
Planning for a business’ future means different things for diverse entrepreneurs. Not every entrepreneur wants rapid growth, and not every entrepreneur feels overwhelmed. The key is to evaluate the current situation, carve out a plan, and design the future.
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. Discover more incredibly useful information for running a small business by taking the FREE Jane Types Assessment at Jane out of the Box. 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.