October is national women in business month. There are 8.6 million women business owners in the US, but sadly we lag behind men in business in terms of revenue and hiring. The vast majority of women business owners make less than $100,000 in gross revenue. New research from American Express reports that the three main things that hold us back are confidence, competency, and connections. I would go further to say that another key factor that hinders many women in business is the fact that many of us are working three full-time jobs as wives, mothers and business owners. We don’t have the luxury of focusing on just one priority.
I love women business owners. My favorite thing is to be in a room full of women entrepreneurs. As the National Spokesperson for American Express Open for Women’s CEO Bootcamp program, I recently hosted the program kickoff in New York City. I heard some phenomenal women CEOs share their stories. Their words were so inspiring, that I wanted to share the 5 key messages shared throughout the day.
Don’t Go It Alone: Gina Bianchini Founder & CEO, Mightybell, @ginab shared that when you’re just starting out, you may not have the budget to hire someone to join your company. That doesn’t mean you should rely only on yourself. “Mentors and coaches can grant great feedback and advice on running your business. Family, friends and fellow business owners can also be valuable sources of help too. “
Fake It Til You Make It: Mally Roncal CEO, Mally Beauty @Mallybeauty – Mally walked away from a pre-med education to become a make-up artist, and now she’s the queen of make-up sales on QVC with her Mally Beauty cosmetics line. She shared that you simply need to fake it until you make it and always trust your gut. “You have to be realistic, but you also need blind faith that it’s going to work,” said Roncal.
Get Outside Your Comfort Zone: Angie Hicks, Founder of Angie’s List @AngiesList said we must step outside our comfort zones as women in business. “My biggest challenge was combating the fact that I was really shy and quiet. In starting a business, you have to get out and talk to people. I was doing door-to-door sales, which was the last thing I ever thought I would do.” It was hard, she cried some days, but she never gave up. Working outside of her comfort zone gave Hicks opportunities she never would have had otherwise. Some women hold themselves back due to their fear of the unknown, but Hicks urges entrepreneurs to take that leap. “Don’t miss out on opportunities that come your way,” she said. “Put yourself in a position to have those opportunities, know when one is facing you and take it.”
Focus on Your Finances: Jean Chatzky Financial Editor at The Today Show @JeanChatzky was the funniest speaker of the day as she explained her money rules: On your birthday check your weight and your credit score, if you’re just looking, don’t try it on and it’s best to save in a way where you can’t see or touch the money, so have the money deducted directly from your bank account.
Love On Your Customers: Robin Chase Co-Founder and former CEO, Zipcar @Rmchase shared that we need to push forward afraid, that we should all run a businesses that will make your customers send you love letters.
If you take the time to work on your business, and not just in your business you will learn what to need to do to take your small business to the next level. All women business owners are wonder women out here making things happen. Don’t ever forget who you are, you never lose in business. Either you win or you learn.
If you are women business owners interested in attending the next CEO Bootcamp program event, we’ll be taking the event on the road in 2014. For details checkout www.openforum.com/ceobootcamp
“Handshaking Female Hand On White” courtesy of adamr / www.freedigitalphotos.net
What advice would you give to women business owners?