Rethinking success for women in small business

equality, outlook, success

The 2021 AsiaLink Business Report found that boosting the success of female entrepreneurs could contribute to between $71-$135 Billion to the Australian economy, so it’s safe to say that helping women to succeed in business is beneficial to everyone. 

The Australian Small Business & Family Enterprise Ombudsman has taken this on board, with the Women-Led Business survey.

While the results of last year’s survey are yet to be released, many women fear that the noted challenges of funding, education and additional training within the survey are only a part of the puzzle for helping women to grow successful businesses. 

For the majority of women, their internal perceptions, fears and insecurities are by far the biggest saboteurs of growth – we see it daily at the Institute of Women International – and the influence it has on business success is often overlooked and underestimated.

Even in an ideal world, where a woman has everything she needs to thrive – eg, she has available capital to invest, is surrounded by incredible mentors, and supported in all areas of her life, the way she feels about herself and her abilities to create success is a crucial (often missing) ingredient for her success.

Here are four tips that our experience shows make a huge difference to successful outcomes for female entrepreneurs:

1. Highlight strengths

At the best of times, most women are well aware of what they are ‘not’ so good at, and hyper-focusing on such struggles is only going to amplify those perceived weaknesses, and stifle success.
So our advice is if you’re not so great at something, outsource it! There is ample assistance available for almost every facet of business – so get support and focus instead on where your natural strength lies – this will result in more effortless and enjoyable productivity overall.

2. Address internal saboteurs

Many women have a very strong emotional connection to their businesses – when a downturn is experienced, many women personalise that as a reflection of themselves.

Sure, we can ‘push through the fear’ and do it anyway, but our experience shows that for 4 out of 5 women, this is a short-term and exhaustive exercise. Investing in addressing those fears will reduce the internal battle making way for effortless, aligned success. 

3. Ditch the need to be “consistent”

One of the most significant differences between men and women is our hormone cycle. For decades, we’ve been educated to ‘downplay’ the impact of this natural cycle, and yet in our 30 years of working with more than 10,000 businesswomen, 90 per cent of those women have reported a drop of productivity at certain times of the month.

While not a popular topic to discuss in business circles, women present to us with these challenges so they can’t be ignored.

As a woman in business, being able to work with the ebbs and flows of a cycle – and understanding what times are best for certain activities will create a consistency that aligns with the nature of being a woman. 

4. Surround yourself with like-minded role models

The majority of female entrepreneurs will admit they find it more inspiring to look up to other women in business. Globally, there are more men in business than there are women, however recent years have indicated that this is changing….slowly.

Many studies, including the 2021 AsiaLink Business Report and the 2021 Women’s Entrepreneurship Barometer Global Report indicate that women thrive in community settings, so reach out and connect to other supportive networks that feature prominent women in business. Being able to model how women build successful businesses provides a more realistic perspective to learn from which we can all learn and adapt.