by Monika Beck | Featured Contributor
The number of women in business is at an all time high. As of 2016, a report published by American Express OPEN found that there are over 11 million women-owned businesses running in the U.S. These businesses have a huge economic impact, generating revenues of $1.6 trillion and employing nearly 9 million people. 1.4 million of these women-owned businesses are in the professional, scientific, and technical sector including job roles such as divorce attorney or research scientist; squashing some of the myths surrounding women in more technical roles.
Despite these encouraging figures, the world of business can still sometimes prove to be unwelcoming to women. We’ve collected some top tips to help you smash the glass ceiling and reach your full potential.
1. Ignore stereotypes
Don’t let stereotypes influence your decisions or put you off. It’s nonsense to believe assumptions such as men make better web designers or app developers. For example, Masako Wakamiya is an 82-year-old Japanese woman who recently taught herself to code. Masako’s app is one of the first on the market developed for those over 60. She has gone on to speak at a TEDx event and even has a hashtag #NotTooOldtoCode.
2. Think about your brand identity
For some, capitalizing on being a female makes sense for their business. For example, some more vulnerable people feel safer having a female in their home. If starting a plumbing company, or an alarm company, it may be of benefit to advertise the fact you’re a female.
How others perceive you can define not only your identity but also your business brand.
Think about how you want others to see you – are you a proud “mumpreneur” or a more gender neutral “entrepreneur”? There is no right or wrong answer; do what works for you and your business.
3. Join a network
Networking is an important part of running a business. Networks provide an opportunity to meet new people and find advice and inspiration. Consider joining a local network as well as a female orientated network. Twitter and Facebook are two great networks to find entrepreneurs you can connect with.
4. Take care of yourself
Females often take on caregiving responsibilities within the family. Balancing children, elderly parents, and running a business is not easy and could lead to burnout. Take the cheeky advice of Arianna Huffington and “sleep your way to the top”. As the author of 15 books and founder of the Huffington Post and Thrive Global, Arianna’s advice comes from years of experience. You will be unable to make critical decisions if sleep deprived and on edge.
Make sure to take the time to recharge your batteries so you can focus when at work.
5. Give back
Empower a Billion Women by 2020 (EBW2020) is a global movement that connects women to education, technology, and mentors. They are always on the lookout for leaders for their groups called Chapters. Being a Chapter Leader is a great way to share your story and provide help and guidance to others. You can also give to organizations such as the UN GirlUp initiative that helps empower women worldwide.
6. Get Social
Social networks are continuing to grow in importance to businesses. They allow businesses to get almost instant feedback and to share more about their brand. Hashtags, used on sites such as Instagram, are an easy way to target your niche. There are a huge number of hashtags targeted at women in business, including #girlboss, #womeninbusiness, #bossbabe, and #womenwholead. There are more generic hashtags too such as #entrepreneurlife, #startuplife, and #onmydesk. You could use a niche tag such as #meetthemaker, or even create your own tag including your brand name.
7. Get a library card
Some of the most successful business women have written down their hard-won wisdom. Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” was an #1 international bestseller and provides advice on topics such as negotiation and how to build a satisfying career. Of course, there are many books that aren’t authored by females that provide excellent insight and guidance. As a starting point, you take a look at Bill Gates’ reading recommendations. His tastes are diverse, from business to memoirs, but you’re guaranteed a thought-provoking read.