The Small Business Administration has declared October as National Women’s Small Business Month, but instead I would like to call it National Women’s Not-So-Small-Business Month.
I want to challenge women business owners to make a commitment to grow your companies and make more money.
To take your business to the next level, you can add employees or locations, expand your customer base or increase your revenues substantially. Whatever it is, I want you to commit to a growth goal to achieve by this time next year.
At the very least, decide to move your income into a higher tax bracket.
I give presentations all over the world to entrepreneur groups, and one of my most popular topics is “the leap,” how small-business owners can take their companies to the next level. Women entrepreneurs are particularly interested in this topic.
However, women lag behind men in growing larger companies, according to the 2007 Economic Census from the Census Bureau. The data is gathered every five years, and the federal agency is in the process of releasing reports from the 2012 Economic Census over the next eight months.
About three-quarters of all small business have no employees except the owner.
Of 13.9 million male-owned businesses, 23% had paid employees; 6.3% had $1 million or more in revenues.
Of 7.8 million women-owned businesses, 11.6% had paid employees; 1.8% had $1 million or more in revenues.
Women have to do better. America needs the jobs you can create, and you deserve to make more money.
Now, I understand some reasons for women business owners’ slower growth. For one, some women have family obligations that play a large part in their decision to become their own boss.
But most of the time, I’ve observed that what holds women back are other attitudes that affect their ability to grow in comparison to businesses that men own:
• Women business owners are slower to hire, whether employees or contractors.
• Women set lower goals for the type and size of companies they hope to build even when family obligations are not a factor.
• Women generally believe they have to be overqualified to take the next step in their careers or business.
• Women believe that to be seen as competent, they have to do everything themselves rather than delegating.
• Women frequently are less comfortable being defined in terms often associated with highly successful entrepreneurs, such as “determined,” “ambitious” and “single minded.”
So what do you need if as a female entrepreneur, you want to grow your business substantially?
I’ve identified four key factors to help you take “the leap” in growth:
• Vision. You must be able to envision yourself as the head of a successful company, as a leader of others, before you can achieve your objectives.
Search for role models — both men and women — you admire, not for their ruthlessness but for their ability to grow and run the type of company you would like to have. Being bigger won’t impede your ability to have a positive social impact and embrace your personal values.
• Confidence. A friend who ran a personnel company said that she came to realize that if a job had 10 requirements, a woman would not apply if she were missing even one, but a man would apply if he had only one.
I have repeated this statement to many groups through the years, and both men and women agree.
You don’t have to be perfect. Believe in yourself.
• Plan. Have vision and confidence, but also develop a realistic road map on how you will achieve your goals.
Don’t hesitate to get help with this. Hire a consultant or work with a Small Business Development Center consultant; they’re free.
Develop a business plan.
• Team. Finally, recognize that you can’t grow alone.
Studies have shown that women entrepreneurs hire others, whether as consultants or employees, more slowly than men. But you can’t grow a business of any size without getting help.
Build a team.
All of us want to make a difference in this world. By growing your business — employing others, increasing the economy — you, as a woman business owner, can help your community and your country.