Women make up the fastest-growing segment of business owners in the United States today. That doesn’t mean success is a given, however. In comparison to their male counterparts, women tend to have smaller companies with less revenue and fewer employees, as noted in Fast Company magazine recently.
The good news is that years of incremental advancements on multiple fronts are starting to pay off for women business owners, opening the door to new opportunities and greater potential for success.
Will 2016 be the tipping point for women entrepreneurs?
This could be the breakout year for women entrepreneurs, according to the four experts who participated in a recent panel discussion on Internet talk radio program Coffee Break with Game-Changers, presented by SAP.
The show – Part 3 of the series “Success Secrets of Entrepreneurial Women” – aired live on January 13, 2016. You can listen to the recording here. Panelists included Jane Wesman, president of Jane Wesman Public Relations, Inc., and of Dive Right In – The Sharks Won’t Bite: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Guide to Success; Sandi Webster, principal of Consultants 2 Go, LLC; Linda Hamilton, CPA, treasurer of New York Women’s Agenda and Enterprising Women’s magazine advisory board member; and Deanna Kory, member of the Corcoran Group and one of the consistently top-ranked real estate brokers in Manhattan.
Host Bonnie D. Graham moderated a lively discussion, while the panelists drew on their cumulative experience and diverse backgrounds to share their observations and success secrets for women business owners. The panel identified 4 trends that are converging to produce a more favorable business environment for women entrepreneurs in 2016.
4 trends that could make this a great year for women entrepreneurs
1. Better support networks
There’s nothing better than an angel on your shoulder. In 2015 support networks for women business owners blossomed, with many established organizations retooling their programs to provide more targeted support to women at critical phases of business development.
Examples include E&Y’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women initiative, the Tory Burch Foundation’s new fellowship program, Inc. magazine’s Women’s Summit, and Goldman Sachs Access to Capital for Women Entrepreneurs. The National Association of Women Business Owners is also experiencing tremendous growth and interest in its entrepreneurial support programs, while the women of Silicon Valley are taking a closer look at funding women-owned businesses with venture capital.
2. More role models
It’s been a long time coming, but women are increasingly stepping into their power. The breadth of role models available today is having a positive impact in terms of producing greater acceptance of the varied work styles among women who are considered to be successful leaders.
Also, there are a lot more women who have already started their businesses and are now in growth mode – and some who have even already sold their businesses at a good price. A new segment of baby boomer women are now applying their corporate skills to starting their own business ventures. Millenials are also launching their own businesses at a brisk pace.
3. Businesses are becoming less hierarchical
There is a long way to go, but the overall trend is there. Businesses in general are becoming less siloed and increasingly structured along flatter hierarchies, producing a more favorable work atmosphere for women. As a result, women are increasingly in a better position to make a more personalized work plan and take control of their work/life integration. Establishing your own business is one way to do this.
4. Advancements in technology
This is the game changer for entrepreneurs. Advancements in technology have lowered the cost of entry to starting your own business. It is now possible to create a business that exists entirely online. Because of technology, you don’t need a big office to start. You also don’t need to hire employees right away due to the relative ease of working with consultants and outsourcing solutions. Social media platforms have opened a new dimension to marketing and customer engagement, offering more impact with less financial outlay.
New technology makes planning and forecasting much easier, enabling better decision-making and more realistic goal-setting. Technology is making it possible to work longer and harder, with more personal flexibility. The panelists advised entrepreneurs to keep their eyes open for how new technologies can help advance their businesses.
Thinking about getting in the game? Here’s some advice
What’s the biggest mistake women entrepreneurs make when launching a business? Not settling on one idea for their business and instead allowing themselves to get distracted with multiple ideas, according to the panel. “Choose the best business idea – and then implement it and stick to it the entire way through,” advised Wesman.
Don’t forget to maintain a healthy work/life integration. Hamilton told hard-working entrepreneurs to always remember that tomorrow is another day; you can always do more tomorrow. “Give yourself permission to go home,” she added.
Small business outlook for 2016
For more up-to-the-minute news about small businesses, join Coffee Break with Game-Changers for a special show on Wednesday, January 27, 8 a.m. PST/11 a.m. EST, when we will discuss the 2016 small business outlook, and how you can take your business to the next level by working with a business coach or mentor.
Guest panelists for the show are Susan Solovic, THE Small Business Expert; Karen Kerrigan, president & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council; and Lorraine Maurice, senior director, Global Indirect Channel Marketing, SAP.
Join us on Wednesday at Coffee Break with Game-Changers.
Top image via Shutterstock