Published on June 1st, 2017 | by Nancy F. Clark0
Unlock Women Entrepreneurs’ Amazing Secret To Success
By Andrea Simon—
With the recent uproar around Uber and its culture, and the much-reported difficult business environment for women in Silicon Valley, I have recently been interviewing women entrepreneurs who have built successful companies. Interestingly, when we have spoken, they haven’t mentioned gender obstacles at all. Instead, they simply described how they created profitable businesses where women, and men, could work well together and enable innovative business ideas to thrive.
What can these successful entrepreneurs teach us about why these business cultures work so well? How might their “lessons learned” help other women build better businesses? Like Lisa Tomasi writes in PositivityDaily, they seem to have a “secret sauce” for staying positive and spreading it around their organizations.
Millions of women are working today and more are on the way.
Since the 2008 recession, and perhaps even before, women have been transforming the U.S. work force (and it has transformed them), as data from PEW Research Center suggests:
1) Women now make up almost half (47%) of the U.S. labor force.
2) The employment rate of married mothers with children has increased from 37% in 1968 to 65% in 2011, and those stating that their ideal situation would be to work full-time increased from 20% in 2007 to 32% in 2012. Those preferring not to work at all fell from 29% to 20%.
3) And, according to The 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, there are now approximately 11.3 million woman-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenue. Representing a 45% increase between 2007 and 2016, compared to a 9% increase among all businesses, women are going into business and doing it very successfully.
There is clearly something here warranting a deeper look. For starters, when women create companies, they are not just mimicking men. They have their own style of building better businesses, better teams and better results.
The “secret sauce”
The more I interview female CEOs, business leaders and entrepreneurs, the more I see patterns emerging of “how to do it right.”
The more I interview female CEOs, business leaders and entrepreneurs, the more I see patterns emerging of “how to do it right.” Some transformed start-ups into multi-million dollar organizations, often selling them for excellent returns on their investments. Others were Blue Ocean Strategists®, saw an unmet need and figured out how to uniquely solve it, adding value in innovative ways. Many are taking old family firms and turning them around.
So is there a surefire road to success, a “secret sauce”? Possibly, but a combination of these five tenets is often their recipe for success:
1 Intentionally build a company and its culture with forethought.
Each of the women I’ve interviewed knew exactly what type of company she wanted to create. One in particular had built or rebuilt several companies in the recruiting sector, empowering her staff to be autonomous but at the same time, putting in place processes and rules to manage their freedom.
2 Build it from the outside-in.
A consistent theme has been the importance of staying laser-focused on the customer. One woman saw an unmet need among parents trying to manage the financial regulations associated with childcare workers, then thought of ways to help them do this more easily and effectively. In the process, she built a $10 million company with 10,000 clients and 50 employees.
3 Understand that women need a balanced workplace. (Men do, too.)
These women CEOs realized that women want to work hard and see results but also need independence to manage their homes, families and countless other commitments in order to have a meaningful life.
4 Training and development is a hallmark of successful companies.
Not surprisingly, each of these female entrepreneurs has been a big believer in lifelong learning—for themselves and their companies. From personal development coaching to ongoing professional training, they embraced change and made sure their people were equipped to adapt to what’s next.
5 Bottom line results are the product of an excellent business culture.
For these women business leaders, profitability flowed from a culture that balanced empowerment and innovation with processes and controls. They understood how to build great teams and foster personal development while assertively competing in their market space.
Culture in women-run businesses reflects their founders’ beliefs, values and ways of getting things done.
As I continue to research successful women business leaders, I am seeing that the how is what is critical to their success. These women are changing the way people work, a point emphasized by Lisen Stromberg in her new book Work Pause Thrive. It is now time for companies to alter their cultures to better align with the needs of women, not the other way around, Stromberg argues. Fortunately, successful women everywhere are showing others how to do it, and why it works so well. We should all pay attention.
Andrea Simon, Ph.D., principal and founder of Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC). You can reach me @SimonAndi, #CorpAnthro or [email protected] to share your story. I look forward to hearing from you.
Article photo by Getty Images-shironosov