A Guide for Women Entrepreneurs

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Co-Authored by: Susan Johnson & Phoebe Hutchins

Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition
Very few businesses are one-of-a-kind, so it’s important to pinpoint exactly what sets your company apart from the competition. This is especially important for women entrepreneurs, the key is to determine what separates you from your male-run counterparts in the same space, and embrace those differences. Women have the unique challenge of having to break through the glass ceiling and enter the arena as a strong competitor. It requires clarity and creativity to differentiate your offerings from the world of homogenous products. But remember it’s vital to keep your original USP concept consistent as your company grows.

Know Where You Want to Go
Set SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely – objectives. These concrete short- and long-term goals determine the direction in which you plan to take your company, where you plan to be in six months, a year from now, and in two years from now. Remember though, as the space outside your company continues to change, your goals and objectives need to adapt.

Change Your Perspective
One strategy that resonates across all platforms is take your leadership outside the walls of your company. One of the best parts about being a woman is our willingness to help one another and as a woman-in-business, you should use this to your advantage. Set an example and become a resource for other women in similar positions- whether through peer advisory or mentorships. Your ability to network and help other women will ultimately benefit not only yourself but your company. As a female entrepreneur, one of your greatest assets is your network, people who will help you create innovative solutions.

“Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.” – Steve Wynn, Wynn Las Vegas
Employees are the most important resource for any business. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have the time to do everything and be in complete control of all the minutiae. As a woman, your intuition is one of your greatest assets. Trust your gut when hiring employees. It’s important to carefully hire the best team for your business. You don’t have the time to do every job, so hire smart people who you can trust and focus on retaining them.

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
Identify what needs to happen and develop strategies to achieve it. It’s easy to get caught up trying to fix everything all at once. Focus on your original goals and try to resolve issues by aligning strategies with your objectives. The more specific you are about your goals, the more your company will benefit. Be the voice for your company’s mission and vision.

Know When to Let Go
The art of the pivot is important for all entrepreneurs. Knowing when to acknowledge a failed idea is key to staying afloat and moving forward. Women tend to have a more difficult time moving from a failed idea than their male counter-parts but every failed idea is an opportunity to learn and tailor your strategy. Know when to quit and admit failure. Your business will be stronger for it.

Can You Be My Mentor?

Image via The Cut

Fellow National Women’s Business Council member and a vice-chairman at Morgan Stanley, Carla Harris knows the importance of finding a mentor, but she also encourages people to find a sponsor- someone who will go to bat for you and your career. Carla spoke with The Cut about the difference between a mentor and a sponsor and her criteria in choosing a mentee.

According to Carla Harris – a good mentee depends on:

  1. “Whether a person is willing to do it for somebody else.”
  2. If that person, “has the courage to follow her advice.”
  3. And their “ability to adapt and pivot quickly.”

Read more about why “it takes more than a mentor to win at work” on The Cut

This post originally appeared on NYMag.com/thecut/ and was written by Carla Harris as told by Ann Friedman.

Being Relational

Being Rational

Our world is a crowded and hyper-connected place and it is becoming increasingly more crowded and hyper-connected every minute. With continuous messaging through media emphasizing conflict and desperately competing for our attention, our world seems full of struggles over resources and power. The challenges of our world call for us to evolve as a species in ways that have never before been necessary: not in our physical attributes, not in our emotional capacities, not in our mental capabilities, and arguably not even in our use of technology to master our environment and harness its resources. But rather, the challenges of our world call us to evolve in the ways that we relate to each other – and, by extension, how we relate to all living things on our planet.

In this crowded and hyper-connected world, interaction with other people is constant in your daily experience. And every interaction is a negotiation. You might not think of it as a negotiation when you are in it, but fundamentally, when you act or communicate in any way that affects another person, you are negotiating with them. You are seeking to affect and influence their behavior or perception of you, whether you connect with them or not. In turn, they are seeking to affect and influence your behavior, your connection or perception of them, as well. Many of your interactions may seem trivial, purely in the nature of simple exchanges of information or money for goods, but they are negotiations nonetheless. Your most intimate exchanges, though you might refer to them as conversations, these too are negotiations.

The critical issue for us as a species is how we negotiate, how we connect, how we relate. How we negotiate, and more importantly, who we are as we negotiate life with others, is at the root of our conflicts large and small. It also is the source of a great hope we have for the future and a way we can thrive in our crowded and hyper-connected planet. In this time of increasing conflict, improvement in our ways of interaction is not only a hope and dream for the future, but is urgently needed now. This issue is vitally important especially to us, as leaders. Learn more here.

This guest blog post was originally written by WPO member, Louise Phipps Senft, Author, Being Rational, The Seven Ways to Quality Interactions and Lasting Change.

Tribal Leadership: Culture Governs Your Brand

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How can you motivate employees when only 14% of the workforce is truly engaged in their work? And how can you inspire a workforce when only 29% of employees act with purpose, while a full 57% are merely burning time until they switch jobs or retire. Janet Odgis discusses what she learned from Mark Taylor, international speaker and trainer, about defining culture, which—in its best manifestation—can act as the fuel that drives employees to new heights of productivity. Learn why Taylor says “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Canadian Women in Wealth: A financial golden age has arrived

bmoWomen have made incredible strides, both professionally and personally, in the last half-century. They are better educated, have greater responsibility in the corporate world and are leaders in many professions. Despite the professional and financial successes that women in the workplace have earned in recent generations, they are still facing personal issues and unresolved challenges. BMO’s report, Women in Wealth explores ideas and strategies to help today’s Canadian woman prepare for a more confident financial future.