If there’s one thing that women can’t get enough of in this day and age, it’s empowerment. Empowerment helps you to  realize your own goals, achieve your potential and shows your daughters, nieces, little sisters and granddaughters that the path is open before them to succeed, too. The trouble is that when it comes to female empowerment, particularly in the business world, the deck is stacked against us.

woman laughing

Image by Flickr

When it comes to creating and managing your own business, there are economic, social, cultural and political threats to small, women-owned businesses in the 21st century. Despite all the hard work by progressively-minded women and men to level the playing field, the business world is still something of a boy’s club. For your business to succeed (and succeed it shall), female entrepreneurs must break free of the socio-cultural shackles that impede their progress in the business realm and threaten their livelihood.

Thus, we hope to educate and inform so that female entrepreneurs might steer clear of these threats to their success and thereby raise a banner for the legions of bright and capable women who are trying to make it behind them…

Institutional sexism

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first, shall we? The notion of institutional sexism in business isn’t a crackpot conspiracy theory created by militant feminists of both genders – it’s a matter of tangible fact. According to a 2014 study, female-led businesses received a scant 3 percent of the $50.8 billion invested by venture capitalists between 2011 and 2013. That’s over 30% of US companies owned by women. Whether consciously or unconsciously, there a gender bias prevents perfectly viable business ideas from getting off the ground. As frustrating as this may be, there are ways to combat this inequitable divide.

The first is to project an air of unassailable confidence in everything you do and have the data, statistics and results to back it up. If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s a big ask to expect others to believe in you. The second is to apply for any (or all) of these grants which are set up for the specific purpose of helping female entrepreneurs fund their businesses.

While there may be a percentage of people who can’t wait to see you fail, there are more rooting for you to succeed.

Competition

Competition is not only healthy, it’s economically necessary. It reduces the risk of monopolies, drives improvement and innovation and offers consumers a choice. However, to a fledgling business in the 21st century, competition is a disproportionately huge threat. The advent of globalization and digital communications has removed global barriers, which means that small businesses must stand shoulder to shoulder with corporate titans and alongside other businesses of a similar nature and scope.

Rather than letting competition belittle or (worse yet) abort your business, embrace it as an opportunity to improve and excel. Find your USP and use digital marketing to make sure that everyone knows about it. Embrace content marketing to give your business a face, a voice and an identity of its own to stand out from the competition. Let your passion be the spark that shows the world why they should turn to you and not your competitors.

Security risks

From global terrorism and shoplifters to all manner of digital malfeasance, small businesses face a range of security threats. They may vary depending on the nature of your business, but it’s important to do what you can to insulate your business from these risks. Security solutions companies like TSE- Tri State Enforcement may be prudent in combating major security threats, while for others, it’s merely a matter of constant vigilance. Whatever the nature of your business, security (including cyber security) is an area in which you cannot afford to cut corners or scrimp on pennies.

Your business plan should have adequate security provision that contains countermeasures for security threats that your business faces.

Government

From the Trump administration to Brexit in the UK, there are many examples of how political and governmental changes can create shifts in the ground beneath small businesses. For all Trump’s rhetoric about putting American business first, it’s unlikely that a billionaire corporatist would ever be interested in bucking the trend of government cozying up to the big corporations with lobbying power to shape the playing field to their own advantage. Even Trump’s vaunted tax cut for small business is far more than it appears.

With the deck stacked so heavily in favor of big businesses, it’s incumbent upon small businesses to offer a level of connectivity with their clients and customers that big business are challenged to sustain. Managing your customer interactions through social media, offering bespoke solutions and making sure that you and your employees offer outstanding service in every transaction will ensure that your consumer base stays loyal.

confident woman

Image by Pixabay

Technology

For many of us, technology is a friend. It facilitates our transactions and enables us to turn our business into a global brand. Technology aids productivity and drives innovation. However, technology is like a bucking horse. If you can master it and stay on top of it, it can take you to new places faster than you could have imagine. Sadly, it can just as easily trample you underfoot. Shifts in technology have slain many a business leviathan that stubbornly refused to move with the times (remember when you used to go to Blockbuster video for your evening’s entertainment?). Unfortunately, new technologies are often expensive and time consuming to adapt, which means that corporate giants are able to muscle their way to the front of the line while smaller businesses are left standing in their wake.

In order to retain a healthy relationship with technology your business must adapt to technological trends while staying smart enough not to over-invest in unnecessary tech.

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