For Women’s History Month, I’d like to celebrate female entrepreneurs (both current and aspiring) by sharing this excerpt from my book, Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur- 10 Mindset Shifts For Women to Take Action, Unleash Creativity and Achieve Financial Success (McGrawHIll):
So, you’re ready to join the entrepreneurial pack. Welcome and congratulations. Now it’s time to start your mindset shift—embracing an entrepreneurial attitude. There are no instant success stories or quick paths to riches. It’s not about who you know or being lucky. You are going to have to work. Envision your favorite fempreneur and chances are that she started working in her garage or at the dining room table. There are many of them out there today:
• Nancy Whiteman began her $25 million food business, Wana Brands, in her kitchen.
• Huda Kattan started her eyelash company when she had a hard time finding quality false eyelashes as a makeup artist and made her minx eyelashes to fill that void.
• Angie Hicks also saw a huge gap in the market and started her now well-known company, Angie’s List, which provides consumer reviews for local service providers.
• Tory Burch built her fashion brand and empire after working for several other fashion designers first
• Jennifer Hyman’s company, Rent the Runway, was launched to make wearing designer clothing affordable for all women, filling yet another hole in the market.
These names don’t even scratch the surface when it comes to women cashing in on entrepreneurial opportunities.
Now it’s your turn to channel your inner entrepreneur, and you’re likely to feel very overwhelmed when you first begin to take on this attitude adjustment. You’re probably wondering how refining your outlook as a business owner can help you stand out among your competitors. The answer is that until you believe that you really are an entrepreneur and can become a successful one, you may limit yourself in what you achieve—you have to see it first to become it.
With that in mind, the best way to proceed is to confidently pinpoint your niche, filling a void, and avoiding the urge to compete only on price. An entrepreneurial attitude also means focusing on servicing your clients and servicing them well. This is how you’ll be able to effectively lure customers away from larger companies. Again, this is back to
business fundamentals: providing good customer service that includes really listening to your clients, being as responsive as possible, and making sure that you follow through with what you say you are going to do.
Another part of this mindset shfit is being present to serve customers at all levels, not walling yourself up at the top of your company. Personally ensure that the products and services that your team delivers are of extremely high quality, and never let customers receive a product that is less than what you would want for yourself if you were in their shoes. Pull upon your own experience as a consumer and those times when you were disappointed with a product or service, like when a lipstick you were waiting for arrived in the wrong shade and you couldn’t get anyone to help you when you called the company for an exchange. How did you feel when you were stuck with Mango Sunrise when you really wanted Screaming Siren? Make sure that your customers don’t experience the same annoyance, work hard to build rapport with them, and always respond quickly to their feedback and ideas. Bigger organizations are not nearly as nimble and can’t pivot as quickly as you can in response to your clients. Work steadily and diligently in these directions with an unshakeable entrepreneurial attitude, and your results will build slowly over time.
Getting these two essentials right—pinpointing your niche and providing customers with a high level of quality/service—can be game-changing, but these steps are not all that’s needed in this Mindset Shift to obtain success as a fempreneur. A recent study found that 90% of startups will fail. A lot of this has to do with entrepreneurs who launch businesses but lack the tenacity to see them through. There is a learning curve associated with becoming an entrepreneur so don’t expect overnight results. Surviving year one is typically the most challenging, as around 20% of small businesses will fail within their first year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As another part of your Mindset Shift—and as an additional method to increase your confidence and persistence- you will also need to know what you want, which requires understanding your why. Figuring out your why will be central to your forward momentum and every entrepreneurial move that you make. If you don’t understand your why, your customers won’t either. Ask yourself a few important questions:
• Why are you launching this business in the first place?
• What drives you?
• How are you helping your customers and what do you want to accomplish?
• Why is entrepreneurship the right choice for you?
• Why now? And why this business?
Once you have clear answers to these questions, you’ll have what you need to confidently and persistently continue on your path. Knowing your why is paramount to formulating your strategic plans and attacking your fempreneurial goals. In the words of Nietzsche, “he who has a why can endure any how.”
Once you’ve zeroed in on your why, it’s time to compete (part of your how). Success in entrepreneurship is very much like a game—part chess match, part poker tournament, and part schoolyard soccer competition. You’ve got to make decisive moves in a really strategic way, bluff on occasion when you want others to think that you have a better hand, and pass the ball to and from teammates to hit your goals. Sometimes, it will be a straight line to a quick score, and at other times, you will have to double back, up the ante, and formulate a new plan.
I tackle business in this game-like manner, face forward, shin guards on straight, while making those calculated moves- my end goals always in sight. This competitive vision is what helps determined fempreneurs persevere after others fold.