Gentlemen, step aside. Women entrepreneurs, and particularly women of color, now lead the fastest growing segment of startup companies.
Why? Women have hit a glass ceiling, so entrepreneurship lets them earn more and professionally grow. Others are mothers, and entrepreneurship gives them more flexibility and control over their schedules.
It makes sense; women are perfectly suited for the entrepreneurship lifestyle. Just think—despite the fact that society has a long way to go before reaching gender equality, women are thriving as entrepreneurs.
Here are 10 strengths that are setting them up for success.
A 2016 study reported that women scored higher than men in most areas of emotional intelligence. In the study, women were better at “soft skills,” that help them effectively lead in companies. They were more self aware, demonstrated empathy, and outperformed men in key areas, including:
The verdict is out. Women bring incredible emotional intelligence to companies they lead. And, emotional intelligence in leadership helps retain employees longer. After all, people want to work for managers and CEOs who are great at managing conflict, coaching, and influencing people.
Ability to multitask.
Some people look down on multitasking, but as an entrepreneur, I think it’s a critical skill. When you start a company, you wear many hats. One minute, you’re the finance department, preparing invoices and recording expenses. The next minute, you’re marketing and selling your product. You do it all, nimbly jumping from task to task, and customer to customer. Your brain has to think about multiple things at once.
You know what other role requires multitasking? Motherhood. Day after day, mothers manage their kids’ needs and schedules. They get interrupted and pulled in different directions. Yet, they stay the course, and help their kids learn and grow. Sound a little like entrepreneurship? Yup.
Companies, and particularly startups, undergo change as they grow. That’s why it’s so important for entrepreneurs to be adaptable. Fortunately, women have nailed this trait.
In one survey, 1,400 women were asked what skills make them successful at work. The top answer was adaptability. Women know that in order for businesses to succeed, they must stay flexible during change. Change can come in many forms, but in a new company, it often involves new employees, strategic goals, budgets, and even office spaces. And, women seem to thrive no matter what new direction they’re going.
Women are mentally tough. Really, we should give ourselves credit. Since childhood, we’ve faced gender stereotypes, cat calling, and body image issues. We’ve hit glass ceilings and fought for equality. Just think of the women throughout history who have shown major grit:
Ladies, we have a lot in us—both passion and determination. And, entrepreneurship is a crazy ride. It takes an incredible amount of perseverance to succeed, but women have what it takes.
The truth is, both men and women are great communicators—but in different ways. Generally speaking, men are excellent at communicating in clear and concise ways. But women pick up on nonverbal cues, empathize with others, and display great listening skills.
Communication might be the most valuable skill for CEOs. After all, they’re communicating their vision and values to the rest of the company, customers, and investors. When they get their message across, they influence people and initiate action.
Female CEOs have more empathy and compassion for other people. As a result, they tend to create female-friendly workplaces with benefits and perks that matter to women. For example, companies with female CEOs typically offer:
These benefits and perks help retain good employees and make businesses thrive.
Ability to Take Risks.
Starting a business is a huge risk, but women are ready to take the leap. According to research from the Centre of Entrepreneurship in the UK, 87% identify as financial risk takers, compared to 73% of men. And 80% of women can visualize opportunities when other people see risk. Only 67% of men felt the same way. Even though men have a reputation for being adventurous, women actually have more of a risk-taking mindset.
And, it’s clear that being a risk taker is a “must” trait for entrepreneurial success.
One of the worst things a CEO can do is get overly confident. The competition is fierce, and you never know who is sneaking up on your company. Be alert. Stay humble. Constantly evaluate the market and make changes to adapt.
In the same study from the Centre for Entrepreneurship, just 42% of women said their business was prospering. A later analysis of the same businesses reported that the companies were actually doing much better than the women reported.
Humility wins in the workplace.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Men are creative too. But, I think we all can agree that men and women look at situations differently. Women are great at thinking outside of the box and looking for new solutions to old problems. They avoid a “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken,” attitude in pursuit of new, creative ideas.
Simply put, women value relationships over other things, like power and status. They prioritize working well with their employees, serving customers, and making time for family and friends. CEOs with excellent relationship-building skills are more successful and can even earn more over time.
If you’re a woman and starting a new business, I have good news—you have a lot going for you. Embrace your unique strengths. Write them down and think about how they help your company. Chances are, many of the traits I mentioned are already working for you. Use them to your advantage.
I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.
Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.
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