Many resilient women have picked up the challenge of entrepreneurship. This increasing flock of women in business is strengthening the cliché – what a man can do a woman can do. In general, the number of women-owned firms is on the rise, but challenges remain inclusive of self-imposed limitations.
Every business owner has numerous goals when starting out, including instant success, recognition and fast growth. The fact is overnight success is not often the standard and there is no guarantee given all efforts, as over 90% of start-ups fail within the first 3 years according to research conducted by Forbes.com.
While recognising the critical contribution of women-owned businesses to Africa’s economic growth, many organisations are increasingly committed to supporting women-owned start-ups.
Many programmes exist to help women start businesses but very few programs are designed to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Want to rapidly and firmly shoot your business to success and achieve growth milestones?
1. Have experience and thorough knowledge of the industry you are in. Never stop learning. Build your network. Employ the best people
Learning is a continuous agenda and a daily goal for any founder and CEO. We must strive to continue learning from all angles. Learn from your competitors, colleagues, employees, mentors, industry leaders and even friends and family.
Have a strong knack for research and utilise all tools and resources available to you to garner knowledge including free webinars and seminars. Desire and aspire to be a walking-and-talking knowledge base for your industry. In line with this, you’ll find that it will be easy for you to innovate, establish patents and grow even faster.
Despite all your knowledge and experience, avoid doing everything yourself as the chief executive. Ensure that you recruit the best employees to help manage certain units of the company.
Also acknowledge where you just aren’t skilled enough and have a passionate expert assist you with handling that unit while you focus on the bigger picture of growing the company.
2. Know, understand and implement solid financial plans and goals
Financials are one of the most important aspects to starting and growing any business. Financials must never be neglected. If you aren’t a finance and accounting guru, hire someone and work closely with them. Your goal is to have a fair balance between your current expenditure and revenue generated on a monthly basis.
To break even and maximise growth within the early years of your business start-up, your revenue should significantly exceed your expenses. Until that happens, keep pushing strongly and keep costs at the minimum necessary to grow optimally.
3. Dream big, trust your gut and don’t underestimate your own wisdom
“Push your dreams; don’t let anything stop you from doing anything great for the world”
Let’s all dream big. We all can be great. Greatness for all equates to greatness for Africa. To flourish, you need to have both the courage to dream big and the ability to execute and carry others along.
Pay attention to your inner voice. If you find yourself hesitating because something doesn’t feel right, step back and listen. If your voice say “This is it, go for it” then put everything you’ve got into making “it” the world’s biggest success story!
4. Get Involved, Be persuasive, Take on new roles
There are lots of great resources and communities out there that provide opportunities to connect with women entrepreneurs and leaders. These groups provide important places to be heard, to share ideas, and find encouragement and support.
Also consider attending at least one conference per quarter. If carefully chosen and carefully planned, it becomes an investment and you can earn the money back in terms of vital new contacts, great ideas and keeping up with your industry.
By taking on roles outside your cultural and intellectual comfort zone, you may realise how much fun it is and you will also improve your leadership skills. Being on the board of other startups and initiatives is great way to give back and develop your leadership skills.
5. Take chances but reduce your risks
Risk is an unavoidable part of starting and growing a business. It is impossible to control everything, but there are ways to limit internal and external threats to your company and its growth.
In facing challenges, find out the possibility and the consequences that go with it, some of that fear subsides because you believe you can handle it. Being in business isn’t all about wins, it’s about learning from your failures in order to move forward. If and whenever you fall, get back up and go much higher! Let’s all meticulously craft our ambitions, work hard together and make Africa greater.
For more strategies on establishing, growing and sustaining your business join Olatorera Oniru – CEO of Dressmeoutlet.com and other inspiring women at the 2016 Women in Business Seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 6th of July, 2016.