Encouraging new research from Lakshmi Balachandra, assistant professor in entrepreneurship at Babson College near Boston, reported by Janelle Nanos of the Boston Globe, identifies six tips from successful female entrepreneurs. Balachandra notes that after publishing several research reports on how little venture funding women raised between 2012 and 2014—only 183 women’s start-ups out of 6,517 companies received venture funding in that period—she decided to study successful women entrepreneurs. These women were successful despite
- Not being taken seriously by the business community
- Having their leadership abilities questioned
- If they are mothers, being written off by potential funders who assumed they would be too busy with family concerns to succeed
- Facing skepticism about their age as young women while young men are given the benefit of the doubt
- Assumptions by investors that women are pursuing a business as a hobby
- Questions about their business’s viability even when earning millions in revenue if the business is run by a woman
- Feeling unwelcome at CEO networking events because too few or no other women are there
Nanos writes that Balachandra’s research on successful entrepreneurs, published in October 2019, included thirty successful female entrepreneurs whose business earned at least $5 million annually (with an average of $43 million a year). Balachandra reports the following sources of success for her sample:
- Look beyond venture capital—The barriers for women seeking funding in the venture capital world remain high. For this reason, many successful female entrepreneurs seek other sources or provide their own capital from savings to maintain control of their companies. Consequently, their growth may be slower, but this can also be an advantage.
- Take it slow—Many of the successful businesswomen in Balachandra’s study intentionally grew their companies at their own pace and did not let anyone else dictate their timetable. They reported feeling that this slower approach allowed them to establish a secure foundation for their businesses.
- Invest in your employees—The research participants reported that building a supportive environment for their workforce as a long-term investment pays off.
- Lift others up—Supporting other woman-owned businesses by either buying from or funding them shores up opportunities for others.
- Create your own networks—Balachandra’s research participants acknowledged the importance of both networking with men and building their own women-centered networks. They also seek out and offer mentoring.
- Make it personal—Women control half the total wealth in the United States and are informed consumers. Trust your own personal experiences as a consumer to inform your business.
This truly is encouraging research.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash