According to the US Chamber Foundation, only 2% of women-owned businesses have 10 or more employees. Only 1.3% of venture-backed companies have a female founder. And though technology is one of the fastest growing industries in the US – less than 25% of those who work in the tech industry, are female.
As the owner of an engagement driving event technology business with nearly 80 employees and growing daily, Lisa Vann continues to break through the barriers of women entrepreneurs in the technology industry.
(Read Lisa’s amazing story of how she came to be not just a business owner, but a business owner of an event technology business..)
Being such a successful business partner, all while raising two young children, we at MeetingPlay wanted to share some of our partner, Lisa Vann’s, tips on becoming a successful female entrepreneur:
1. Know Where to Focus Energy and Time.
Owning a business and being a mother of two young children means that one must know where and what to prioritize. By focusing on the tasks at hand and not allowing external thoughts or distractions get in the way, event professionals and entrepreneurs alike can accomplish more and accomplish it better.
2. Learn How to Hold Yourself Accountable.
Set goals - track and monitor them. Manage your expectations. Sing your praises. Know when you need to re-evaluate. Every aspect of personal accountability and being honest with ourselves will empower any entrepreneur to be more successful. It's important that women believe in themselves, for themselves.
3. Never Fear Asking for Help.
Whether faced with a task that we don't know how to do, there are not enough hours in the day to do, or merely we just can't do it - by learning to ask for help, women entrepreneurs can reveal their strengths, not their weaknesses. By not asking for help, especially in business, we are utilizing time and efforts that could have been focused in a better effort.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail.
By fearing failure, women often don't leap into entrepreneurship. If famous and successful female entrepreneurs such as CoCo Chanel, Ruth Handler (creator of Barbie), Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Blakely (Spanx), and many others, allowed failure to hold them back our world would be an entirely different place. Fear is natural, but overcoming fear is powerful.
5. Always Be Committed.
Staying committed allows female entrepreneurs to stay focused and determined. It allows us to not need approval or validation from others and helps us continue to grow and become more successful.
6. You Have to Believe in Yourself Before Anyone Else Will.
By learning to believe in themselves, female entrepreneurs learn not to seek approval or acceptance. Believing in yourself allows women entrepreneurs to become confident and as mentioned above, committed to overcoming failures or hardships.
7. Know Your Target Audience.
Entrepreneurs (men and women) often build companies, products, and brands without ever defining their target audience. Your target audience is not just the consumer or customer, but your employees, peers, influencers, etc. - all who will be assets in different ways.
8. Never Stop Learning.
Learning is a task that no female entrepreneur should ever cease to do. Whether it's continuing to master a trade or talent or learning a new one - continued learning builds possibility for improvement, new thoughts or ideas, and opportunity. Three great ways to learn from others is to surround yourself with those who excel at something you don't. Finding a mentor, joining a mastermind group, or employing a board of directors ahead of your new business or venture is all valuable paths.
9. Empower Those Around You
By not always needing credit, by providing an opportunity for others - by empowering others - female entrepreneurs can attract the best of the best - the best employees, the best mentors, the best clients, etc. Listen, be empathetic, be encouraging - be empowering in your entrepreneur endeavors.
10. Don’t Forget to Develop Brand You
By having a strong personal brand, you can leverage it to boost your company's visibility. Steve Jobs owned Apple, but his own personal brand helped leverage Apple brand. By developing a strong personal brand, you open doors for others to look to you as a thought leader and thus trust your business as well.
11. Develop Thick Skin - But Stay Approachable.
One of the hardest parts of being a successful woman in any profession is that women live in a world that doesn't appreciate successful women. Driven, and successful women are often looked down upon and their success minimalized. In a world that holds very few seats for women at the table of importance - it is important to take a seat (or pull up a chair) anyhow! Thick skin is one of the hardest and yet most valuable things a woman in any profession can learn - but staying approachable is just as important.
12. Learn From Mistakes.
Mistakes are a natural part of professional development, and any successful entrepreneur has made their fair share of errors along the path. The takeaways from mistakes, provide a foundation to grow, overcome, and improve.
13. But Learn to Take Responsibility, too.
Mistakes come with a price to pay - whether it is life changing or minuscule.
14. Learn to Say No.
Learning how to say no is extremely important as a woman entrepreneur. No to bad decisions, no to bad offers, no to time restrictions- even the hard task of saying no in fear of seeming rude. Women can't do everything and have a chance to grow and develop their businesses. Learning to say no allows us to become comfortable with discomfort - and how we can learn to tolerate that pain, rather than feel the need to eliminate it.
15. "Kick the sh*t out of option B." - Sheryl Sandberg
In a post-Sandberg shared on Facebook after her beloved husband had passed away, she shared the following:
“I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the sh*t out of option B.”"
In business, in life, and in everything - the opportunities and options that we have may not always be the ones we want - we may hope or wish things were different. But whatever cards you are dealt, it's important to kick the sh*t out of them, so to speak!