Seven Strategies That Enterprising Women Use To Create a Thriving Business

womenentrepreneurIt’s safe to say that no two women-owned businesses are exactly alike. Yet, even in our differences, the way that we run our companies have many things in common. Here are seven secrets to female business success that stands out for me:

  1. The first thing I notice among female entrepreneurs is our goal to consistently reach new markets. We build companies with staying power. That means we are conscious of not putting all of our eggs in one basket. We add diversity in our companies by adding new products, services and market segments. We also consider new ways  to fill a different need by focusing on our core strengths.
  2. Women in business seek better ways to get goods and services to their customers. We run our companies like lean organizations because we want them to be efficient. Keeping our eyes on logistics is key as we look for ideas to streamline our processes. We are careful to control costs while doing our best to meet high standards of quality.
  3. Female CEO’s realize that a successful enterprise is a growing enterprise. Women in business know the difference between being thirsty and being hungry for success. That’s why we set the bar high. For us, the focus is two-fold: Give extremely high value to customers and add extremely high value to the companies we own.
  4. We are also interested in building relationships. In business the adage, “Time is money” is true. That’s why it is key to build strong business relationships.  Industrious women know that the investment of time is the seed that produces long-term growth.
  5. Women business owners build companies with strong teams. No woman is an island. So women achieve their goals in business by delegating where they are weak and building teams to complement their strengths.
  6. We look for ways to reduce costs without sacrificing quality. When it comes to saving money, enterprising women are careful of where and when to cut expenses. We also look at costs as investments when they make our brands and market positions stronger.
  7. Enterprising women are interested in managing money well. This is a strategy that most women business owners do not take lightly. We start with the end in mind picturing where in retirement we want to financially be. Then with the help of financial professionals, we create our companies around our goals.

As an entrepreneur of over a decade I have personally used these in my business but can always improve (especially in number 5 — getting better at delegating roles).

So tell me in the comments below, did any of these tips strike a chord?

Advertisements

Every Entrepreneur Has a Passion and Creative Process

ladygagaopraThere is a ton of advice for entrepreneurs to help hone in on their purpose. A common response is figure out what you enjoy most and build a business around it. Many call this finding your passion but I think of it as finding your spark.   

For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.…

Not long ago I went on a journey to find the answer for myself. I started by remembering when I was a little girl playing for hours in my mom’s kitchen. I always enjoyed organizing and adding things up. Then I’d switch gears to play school with mountains of stuffed animals while teaching from the assignments I’d write. These memories revealed two things for me: my love for administration and teaching and my creative process.

Today I watched one of the most fascinating episodes of Oprah where she interviewed singer/songwriter Lady Gaga. In the interview Oprah asks about her Born This Way Foundation, career, and creative process. As I listened to Lady Gaga’s response I was inspired by two things.

To be creative, you need to know what frees you up to bring out the creative genius in you.

Lady Gaga mentioned that you need to, “cancel out the noise” so that you can be your creative self. I can relate to this process of pulling away. When I was creating my e-course, “How to Create Good Financial Habits and Position Your Business to Prosper”, unplugging from the busyness of business is what I had to do. So I limited the emails, turned off social media, and went on hiatus from events with family and friends. It is how I allow the creative spirit that comes from God to flow unhindered through me. As a result I not only found the inspiration for big ideas but the message that I was being led to deliver became undoubtedly clear.

Lady Gaga also shared the importance of having role models when developing your boldness. 

I thought it powerful that she once imagined one of her mentors, singer/actress Whitney Houston, singing the lyrics to one of her songs. What an awesome concept! This gives a totally new meaning to having role models in life. The lesson here is not to become less of who you are, but to see, believe and achieve who you want to be. Instead you can piggyback on the traits of women that you would like to emulate. When you imagine that the same phenomenal character that your mentors have is inside of you, it changes your perception of what is possible. That is the part of the creative process when you become a stronger, more confident, and unstoppable version of you.

At the end of the interview, Oprah asks the question, “What do you really want the world to know about you?” To that I imagined giving Oprah my response. Here is what I would say:

“I want the world to know that I care about enterprising women who are looked at as the underdog. My mission, this assignment that I am so passionate about, is to be a mentor and advocate for female entrepreneurs who daily dig in their high heels but still miss out because they do not have adequate finances.

Takeaways from the Lady Gaga interview:

  • Connect to your spark and fan the flames
  • Understand what makes you most creative
  • Find a way to express your gifts to the world

The episode of Oprah interviewing Lady Gaga was excellent! One of the best that I have seen on OWN’s #SuperSoulSunday. I could watch this episode over and over again (and I probably will)!

So let’s hear it…

Have you connected with your passion? How do you express your creativity? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Dream Team Pick of the Week: Richard St. John: Secrets of Success in 8 Words

Today my top mentor of the weak analyst Richard St. John who does an awesome job during this TedTalk event. In the video, he summarizes a poll taken by participants at TedTalks where he asks, “Why do people succeed? Although the question can be applied to anyone in any field, it is also fitting in an entrepreneurial career. Here are the main points from the clip.

Passion – Do it for love.

This is a message that you may have heard before. Find a way to create a business around what you most enjoy definitely plays a role in success. The reason is because although profits is the name of the game, keeping passion in business is what drives you to reach the goal.

Work – Have fun working hard.

Janet Jackson made a song titled, “Funny how time flies when you’re having fun” and it’s true. When you have clients and projects that you can have fun with, you don’t mind the time that it takes to get it off the ground and grow it. It’s like being a kid at Disney World. You never want to leave.

Focus – Put your nose into something and don’t stop until you’re done.

There are so many aspects of business that are interesting but what matters most is niche. If you find one thing to give your undivided attention it will expand and grow. Focus is keeping your eyes on the prize instead of being taken off course by the bright shiny objects.

Persist – Stay on course in spite of failure.

If anyone ever told you that building a successful business is easy they were wrong. There will be good days and not so good days. There will be times when you are extremely confident and moments when struggle with self-doubt. So you need to be prepared by staying physically, mentally, and spiritually able to handle the inevitable bumps in the road.

Ideas – Listen and observe.

Pay attention to what goes on around you to be a catalyst for new ideas. When you keep an open mind it sparks your imagination. From there you can innovate or improve upon what already exists by acting on what you find.

Good – Get darn good at what you do!

To this statement, I totally agree. When you put in the work and practice, practice, practice, it makes you an expert at what you do. Your market values your expertise so take the time to develop it.

Push – Push yourself and have a support circle around you.

Ask yourself how will you keep going when times get hard? A mission statement and positive mental attitude helps but so does a supportive inner circle. You need people to cheer you on in times when you are dealing with what Richard calls, “Crap”.

Serve – Keep an attitude of giving others something of value.

Ivan Misner, founder of Business Network International has a motto that I like called, “Givers gain.” The  more you find ways to help others, the more valuable you become to them. Remember, people do business with people they know, like and trust. Putting others first is the most genuine way to achieve that.

So what do you think?…

Are there any other factors that contribute to success? I’d like to read about your favorite business or career strategies in the comments below.

Follow-Up Friday: The Most Wonderful Tools for Managing Action Items

You need to have all the pieces in your workflow to follow-through completely. Here’s how to do it by reducing bottlenecks in your business.

The success of your company hinges upon doing the right things in the most productive way. It requires knowing what resources are available and how to effectively use them. This is going to force you to assess your business routine and pinpoint the steps that are involved.

Create a Paperwork Flow With Multiple Access Points 

Now we all have to process paperwork for one reason or another. The goal is to spend the least amount of time doing it. Saving time is a factor of productivity that you can improve by making documents simple to access and find. Not every document that crosses your desk is going to be important but many of them are. Examples include banking, credit card, insurance, loans, and legal information. Online storage resources like Dropbox makes it extremely convenient to access files while at your desk and when you are on the road. Another time saving resource is Myfax.com which frees you up to send and receive faxes by email and on your cellphone.

Stock Up on Supplies

Nothing says, “stop the presses” like running out of supplies. Stay productive by being prepared with what you need on hand. For example, keeping an adequate supply of checks, stamps, and envelopes can help you stay on top of managing finances. Be sure to check your stock on a regular basis. Know how much time you need to allow for re-orders so that you are always well stocked with supplies.  Rather than making the trip in person consider saving time and money by ordering online and by phone.

Simplify Contact Management

Stay in touch with contacts by keeping your list up-to-date. A simple way to do this is by adding contact information in one place and syncing to a shared platform. Services such as Plaxo, for example allows you to duplicate contact information between on and offline software so that you can access contacts on your computers, tablets, and cell phones. Check out Plaxo’s video below.

Backup to Reduce Loss and Downtime

Now after doing the prep work and completing the tasks the final step is to have a way to protect and store your files. Believe me as someone who has seen hard drive failure on more occasions than I care to count, I realize how important this is to keeping your business running. One of my favorite tools is Carbonite  because it automates the process. Simply set the location for backup along with the date and voila! Like magic, it does the work for you.

So as you go through your action items today consider how to be more productive and efficient.

Remember that a little planning now saves a lot of time later.

I’d love to hear what tools make your workflow smoother. Share your tips with other readers by leaving a comment below.

Entrepreneurs Want to Know: Are Hourly Prices or Flat Fees the Better Way to Go?

howmuchQ: My company provides branding services to other small business owners using an hourly fee. I have heard of colleagues moving away from billing by the hour. It seems easier than creating quotes and billing for every single task. When I set hourly rates, they seem to scare away clients but I am afraid to lose money by using package prices. What should I do?

A: Most entrepreneurs (especially service providers) start out charging an hourly fee. It is the model most commonly used in new business starts. Although hourly billing can be profitable, it does limit the amount of money you can make.

An alternative pricing strategy that service providers use is flat rate packages. This option enables you to leverage your business by exchanging value instead of time for dollars. With flat rates you are packaging services that fall within a typical request. For example, you can customize a Budding Business Branding Package for start-ups. Keeping in mind the budgets that company’s in the pre-revenue have, your package may be a web marketing plan that solely identifies free and low cost advertising sources. Likewise, you could create a higher end package for established businesses with more advanced offerings and guidance.

When developing packages consider:

  • What tasks go into delivering your service?

  • How can you bundle services to meet clients needs?

  • What tools can improve work efficiency so that you do not have time and cost overruns?

  • How can you guide clients through the process in the least amount of time to achieve the best possible results?

These questions are a good starting point for moving from billable hours to flat-rate fees. As you get more familiar with typical service requests, new programs may develop. Of course, if you have a request that is totally out of the norm, you can always combine package rates with hourly fees.

A good rule of thumb is to offer packages to clients who have clear goals. When the client is not quite sure what direction to take, consider  a-la-carte services at your hourly fee.

When it comes to quoting prices each has its strengths and weakness.

That has me wondering.

Is there a pricing strategy that is winner take all?

Is It Time For a Mark Up?

penfinancialsHello enterprising women!

Today I am on the road blogging and being a wife, mom and enterprising woman, I always strive to maximize my time.  So, yes, I think about my enterprise (and you, my magnificent readers) quite a bit. This is one of those filler moments in between client appointments and picking up my daughter from school.  So I am grateful for the quiet time that I get to take in the beauty of God’s creation (and what a beautiful day it is!). I also get to share some of my thoughts on getting the most from financial reports with you.

The reason that I am highlighting this today is because I realize that a lot of you are using accounting software to produce Balance Sheets and Income Statements for your business. Many of my readers do not have a financial background and may not be working with an accountant so I want to share what to do after getting the data from bank, credit card, and loan statements. Once you record it in your accounting system the next step is to prepare financial reports. Here’s why:

  • You should be reviewing the financial statements to make sure the data is accounted for in the correct places.  Instead of having reports that stare you in the face, I actually want you to do something with them. Using the reports in front of you, take out a pen to circle any line items that stand out.
  • Look for amounts that look unusual so that you can investigate them. I like to make notes with a red pen but you can use any color you like. Using a pen instead of pencil helps to draw attention to results that appear abnormal from one period to the next. If it stands out, circle it.
  • Finally, go back for a review. Take time to ask yourself what happened during the period that caused the numbers to change. This is how you get the story behind the numbers. It is also how you learn what policies, procedures, or strategies are working and what you should revise.

Financial reports are excellent tools that aids in deciding what to do in business. That is why you need to understand what you are looking at. If you don’t understand how to use financial reports consider consulting with an accountant who can explain the numbers to you.  You can also try a community college or enroll in courses online to get familiar with accounting terms and financial reports.

And if you’d like to learn more about how to use financials to grow your business join me on Facebook for helpful financial tips and announcements on my upcoming course.

Until then…

Are you using financials reports on a regular basis?

Let me know how this practice helps you by sharing your thoughts in the comments below.