Now more than ever, women are taking a more prominent position in the business world. According to the 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, women businesses have grown by 58 percent since 2007, and that percentage will only continue to grow.
Staying ahead in the business world, while also working to maintain a regular life, are challenges all entrepreneurs face. As the President and CEO of the Women’s Business Development Center, I have found the following tips to be helpful in continuing to succeed and prosper as a woman business owner:
Seek out a mentor
The business world is ever-changing. A mentor can help give solid advice, offer guidance in certain areas of business you may choose to explore for future growth, suggest solutions for issues you may face, and more.
Your mentor does not need to be your twin. In fact, some of the best mentors have completely different experience or are in different industries. It’s also important to recognize your mentors will change as you and your business grow.
Obtaining a mentor is just one of many steps in the learning process as a business owner. Numerous webinars and business panels are available, in addition to conferences and summits, for added learning opportunities.
There is information available online, and you can contact your local Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, Small Business Development Centers, and Women’s Business Centers for guidance. There are over 1,000 Small Business Development Centers across the country that provide no- or low-cost training, and many of these offer focused services for women business owners.
Not only are summits, conferences, and business panels great for added learning, but they also offer the opportunity to network with potential business clients, partners, and even employees. However, there is an art to effective networking.
First, be thoughtful in selecting your venues. If you are looking for investors, don’t expect to find them in a business planning class, but if you are looking for potential business allies, that might be the perfect spot. Next, genuinely listen and ask questions of the people you meet, as this will help you identify whether or not someone is worth the follow-up. Finally, make networking a shared investment. You need to be willing to help and engage as well.
Maximize your competitiveness by becoming a certified Women Business Enterprise. Certification can open the door to new business opportunities within the public and private sectors, and unlock training and educational resources. Certification also expands a company’s networks and referrals, offering visibility with over 700 corporate partners and numerous public sector agencies.
Certification is a great way to take your business to the next level. There are resources available in every state to learn more about the various certification processes and requirements.
Find a healthy work-life balance
Being a business owner, no matter how large or small the business, can sometimes be a daunting challenge filled with long hours, meetings, employee check-ins, and more, not to mention the stress of maintaining personal commitments to family and friends. That’s why it’s important to find a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout.
Schedule time for small mental health breaks every day. Plan an annual vacation. Find time to relax with friends at the spa or over dinner. And overall, do something nice for yourself.
Owning your own business is one path to economic independence. It can be challenging, but the reward is worth it in the end. Most importantly, you need to believe in yourself and be your own advocate.