Did you know that there are more than 11 million woman-owned businesses in the United States? October is National Women’s Small Business Month, and in celebration the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) created a new infographic showing the impact female entrepreneurs have in business.
According to the infographic, these 11.3 million woman-owned businesses collectively generate $1.6 trillion in annual revenues and support nearly 9 million jobs. The best news is that woman-owned companies continue to grow. In fact, 1,071 woman-owned businesses are started every day.
As more women start businesses, they are stepping into entrepreneurial roles. Becoming a business owner or CEO automatically positions you as a leader. The general rule of thumb is to lead by example. Essentially, this means others will mirror your actions and behavior in the workplace. People take notice of hard working, positive leaders which is (hopefully!) the type of leader most business owners aspire to be.
That being said, women business owners must continually finesse their leadership skills with all stakeholders. Over time, you may discover that evolving your leadership style is ultimately key for the growth of your business. Let’s take a look at the small improvements you can make today that will make a big impact on your startup’s future.
1. Be present and observant.
Our office is on an open floor layout plan. Everyone sits out together on the same floor, grouped in desk “pods” of three. I also sit out on the floor with my team. I prefer it over being in an office for a few reasons. Sitting out on the floor shows that I am available and physically present to the team. If anyone has a question, I’m easy to reach (literally steps away) with an answer. Being present also allows me to be observant. Granted, I’m not whipping out a pair of binoculars to examine who really works the hardest or anything like that. I do, however, have a good understanding of what my team is up to and how they interact with one another. It’s all thanks to the vantage point of being out on the floor with everyone.
Look for ways to be present and observant of what’s happening at your business. Move out to the floor with your team, ask to be BCC’d on specific emails, and note how team members find ways to take initiative and contribute. If you practice this behavior every day, you’ll always be in the loop. You’ll continually learn more about the company and its team and be a key part of the growth conversation.
2. Encourage feedback.
This is a tough leadership skill to practice regularly because feedback, whether it comes from customers or employees, isn’t always positive. Negative feedback can sometimes feel like an “Ouch!” moment, especially for small businesses. You may be convinced you have been doing everything right only to find out that not everyone agrees.
Are you ready to receive feedback? The best advice I have for accepting feedback is to leave your ego out of it. It’s not personal, it’s business. Your business needs feedback of all kinds to make changes that will keep it growing and thriving. Ask for feedback and listen to what is said, positive and negative items alike. Once you have discovered a common thread of issues or successes, work on strategies that can improve the company’s overall ROI. Do more of what has been proven to work for you, and come up with solutions to fix what flops. Overall, the impact of feedback is about more than encouraging communication. It’s showing that you are listening to what everyone has to say. Everyone wants to feel like they have been heard, and it is exciting to see a business make changes based on how you spoke up.
3. Keep yourself on track.
Here are a few basic aspects of your business you will continually revise and revamp as time progresses:
- Business plan. If you haven’t met certain goals that you set months ago, sync up your timeline so that you’re able to get back on track towards reaching them.
- Mission statement. Is everything your business does still aligned with its purpose? You may revise the mission statement if there has been significant change or find ways to get back to your roots.
- Company culture. As you welcome new generations and talent into the workplace, it’s important to keep reexamining your existing company culture. Focus on how you can continue to foster collaboration and inclusivity across all levels of the business.
Finally, don’t forget about yourself. Many leaders fall into a trap where work/life balance is prioritized late in the game. An effective leader is not one that is constantly exhausted or burned out. Know when to take a break. Find and practice self-care methods that allow you to recharge and ensure you’re at your most productive every day.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.