Breaking into Tech: 7 Tips For Women to Make it into this Space

Breaking into tech is not easy – and being a woman doesn’t make it any easier. There are a plenty of roadblocks on the way including a hyper competitive culture, unconscious biases and a strong boys club culture.

The great news, however, is that quite a few women have succeeded breaking into tech lately. They had the passion, knowledge and patience to push forward and now they are doing what they love.

If this is truly your passion, here are some of the things that you can do to break into tech.

For women breaking into tech can present a challenge. Be prepared!

For women breaking into tech can present a challenge. Be prepared

1Differentiate yourself

When it comes to breaking into tech, being different is always welcome. To do this, you’ll need to get creative and think about the future of IT. Trends that are popular now may not be so popular in the future. Talk to some experts, read as much as you can, watch technology shows and listen to tech podcasts to find out what’s the next trend. Reflect on it and see if you can envision what that future looks like. That will help you be a step or two ahead of the competition.

Differentiating yourself can also mean that you have your own, specific niche. This is a good strategy because you’ll become an expert in that niche.  As an expert, you’re likely to have a much easier time breaking into tech.

Another thing you could do is look for companies where you could present your skills, point of view or your background in a new and unique way. In a way that could benefit the company’s short or long term objectives. This will require gathering insights into your target company to come up with the right pitch on why they’d benefit by hiring you.

2Write compelling resume and cover letter

You resume and cover letter to the organization you’re applying to are both extremely important for breaking into tech. Your resume should look good and you should take the time to customize it to each specific job. Cover letters are a bit more complex as they require more familiarity with the company to address exactly what they are looking for.

Don’t write about yourself too much. Instead, write about how you can help the company and what you can do for them.

That being said, cover letters and resumes need to be perfect. They have to display your best skills, virtues and highlight all of the ways that you can help that company. This is essential for breaking into tech. Check out any online platforms like State of Writing and Ukwritings that offer resume and cover letter writing services.

Don’t miss Susan Landon’s expert advice on how to write your resume particularly if you’re a woman.

 

With the right tools and connections, you can break into tech as into any other field.

With the right tools and connections, you can break into tech as into any other field.

3Identify right mentors and sponsors to help you break into tech

You know how important mentors and sponsors are for your career advancement, right? Well, to break into tech they become even more so. Being such a highly competitive, male dominated industry, you need to have people in your corner to help you understand the unwritten rules of the industry or the particular company you seek to work for. You may have several mentors of all different backgrounds as long as they are well established professionals in the tech industry.

People who can make the right introductions to those who have decision-making roles and to those who can offer great assignments. Start by joining professional organizations and attending industry conferences to expand your network. Establish connections on Linkedin, seek out informal interviews to learn as much as you can about your field of interest or the company of your dreams.

Once you break into tech, continue developing mentorship relationships and actively seek sponsors, those high level executives who can open the best opportunities for you.

4Breaking into tech takes a lot of networking

Most job opportunities come about through networking. Often the people who get the jobs in tech are men because they are in the network of the men making the decisions. So, as I was mentioning in the previous point, if you want to break into tech, you’ll have to expand your network to include a lot of the professionals who are already in the field, which happen to be men. Make sure to get introductions to decision-makers through your Linkedin contacts and by attending conferences and events where you can meet new people.

Maria Dingess, an HR Consultant at Academized explains: “You can’t just sit at home and wait for the job to come to you. You have to find connections, make acquaintances, meet different people that can help you achieve your goals. Attend seminars, webinars, visit forums or platforms where people from the tech industry gather – be present.”

You’ll break into tech much easier if your name is somewhat familiar to the company to which you’re applying.

For breaking into tech successfully, nothing beats developing a strong network.

For breaking into tech successfully, nothing beats developing a strong network.

 

5Keep improving your skills. Something that was the norm two years ago may be old fashioned and forgotten by now. Just think about how much the technology has changed in the past decade, year after year.

Don’t stop learning after you are done with your formal education. To break into tech, you’ll have to keep learning and improving your skills every day. It’s a growing industry, changing daily and you need to be flexible and keep up with that.

There are plenty of online courses, platforms, websites, seminars, webinars and other methods of learning that you can use to expand your knowledge. If you have a strong basis, it shouldn’t be that hard.

6Work on projects that you find interesting

A lot of people settle for work that they find boring. They keep grinding and getting through the day. The result of this is visible in the projects that they create – projects that are bland and just as boring as they think their work is.

“Don’t end up being that person. Your life will be so much better if you work on projects that you find interesting, challenging and fun. Breaking into tech as a woman will take a lot more than just a few bad projects. You have to show your passion through your work – show them how great you are and how good your ideas are”, – says Renee Prather, a Recruiting Manager at Paperfellows and Studydemic writer.

Don’t settle for anything you find less than exciting and challenging.

If tech is your dream, don't ever give it up.

If tech is your dream, don’t ever give it up.

7Don’t give up on breaking into tech

Maybe you’ve already been rejected a few times and after your latest rejection all that you want to do is go home, sleep and forget about it. Maybe those rejections have broken your spirit a little bit.

If that’s the case, do go home, relax and rest. Allow yourself some time to decompress, engage in activities that are energizing and inspiring to you. But limit the “break” time that follows any setback and quickly get back in the game. You should never give up on your passions. If you truly love tech and you want to work and create in this space, giving up is not an option for you.

Read inspirational quotes, read about women who have succeeded breaking into tech, watch motivational videos – anything to get you going.

Final Thoughts

Breaking into tech as a woman is a challenge. It takes a lot of hard work, overcoming unconscious bias and rejection. But if you are truly passionate about tech and you care about producing quality products or services for consumers, don’t let anything break you. Keep trying because once you do, the feeling of accomplishment will be amazing. Believe in yourself, your ideas, your skills and your knowledge. People appreciate confidence and stamina. Most importantly, remember to enjoy your work and have fun creating.

Microaggressions: Those Pesky Slights That Damage Workplaces

When someone asked Carol, (not her real name) “Have you eaten dog?” she felt deeply offended. As she spoke up and let her feelings be known, she was furthered hurt by having her feelings minimized. How do we stop this kind of microaggressions that permeate our organizations and society? Here are some key insights.

The woman in the story is an Asian – New Zealander who lives in New Zealand, a country where 74 % of the population is of European descent, 14.9% of Maori descent, 11.8% of Asian descent and 7.4% are non-Maori Pacific Islanders. But this kind of microaggressions based on cultural differences and, I pose, on power differences, happen all the time around the world.

What are microaggressions?

Comments, questions and behaviors such as the one Carol shared with us are commonly referred to as microaggressions. This is a term coined in the 70s by psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce and borrowed more recently by Teachers College, Columbia University psychologist Derald Wing Sue, PhD.

Here’s Dr. Sue’s definition: “Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

I believe that when some people are faced with any sort of difference they don’t clearly understand (or admit,) they may perpetrate microaggressions. And although microaggressions are often unintended that doesn’t minimize their impact.

In the workplace today many people suffer microaggressions on a daily basis as a result of their gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, a disability or any number of reasons. It makes diverse talent feel unwelcomed and pushes them out the door.

What are microaggressions? A definition

What are microaggressions? A definition

Now, in most microaggression situations there are at least two forces at play:

1The aggressor is someone in an ethnocentric stage of intercultural sensitivity. (Read my post, What is cultural sensitivity? for a full understanding of Milton Bennett’s theory of intercultural sensitivity.) And although Bennett’s theory refers to intercultural sensitivity, I believe the stages he described apply equally well to sensitivity towards other people’s gender, sexual orientation, etc.

So, being in an ethnocentric stage means being in one of the following stages:

Denial—people don’t recognize cultural differences and experiences.

Defense— people recognize some differences, but see them as negative because they assume their own culture is the most evolved, the best one. Equally, I pose, they may feel their gender or their sexual orientation is superior.

Minimization—Individuals at this stage of cultural sensitivity are unaware that they are projecting their own cultural values. They see their own values as superior. They think that the mere awareness of cultural differences is enough.

2In the context of the microaggression, the aggressor has more power than the person on the receiving end of it. And this is what I’d like to focus on here, as I believe many microaggressions experienced by women are due to their low power in organizations and society.

Power balance and microaggressions

As social psychologist Adam Galinsky’s research has demonstrated, when it comes to women, many of the differences in performance attributed to gender can be traced back to power differences.

In most of our societies, women have less power than men. And, as most people with less power, they are expected to behave in a certain way: Be nurturing, conciliatory, submissive, etc. So when women show ambition, assertiveness, confidence, competitiveness, and so on they are often penalized. (And this happens despite current efforts to get more women into leadership roles.) In other words, they are subject to a double bind. Otherwise known as: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

What I’m posing here is that many of the microaggressions directed to women in the workplace come not from the fact that they are women but from the fact that they have less power in the company. The same can be said for all the other non-majority groups. It’s always been easier to prey on the weaker members of society, hasn’t it?

Having a diverse leadership team should lead to an increase in acceptance of others and a reduction of microaggressions

Having a diverse leadership team should lead to an increase in acceptance of others and a reduction of microaggressions

Microaggressions directed to people with less power

So let’s look at a couple of examples.

You are in a team meeting with 10 people, 8 men and 2 women. Julie, a manager and the person with least seniority in the meeting, voices her opposition to a new strategy and is interrupted several times while doing so.

When 2 of her male colleagues speak, everyone listens attentively even though they take much more time than Julie to explain their points of view. These interruptions are the kind of frequent microaggressions people like Julie experience daily. Now, my question is, Was Julie interrupted because she was a woman or because she had less power than anyone else, therefore they felt entitled to interrupt her?

Another example. In Latin America, women say that if they seek career sponsors they are perceived in their company as seeking special favors. Yet men don’t have the same issue with seeking sponsors. Is the perception connected to women seeking sponsors due to the fact that they are women or because they have less power and fewer connections in the organization? So if a woman is sponsored to a leadership level, people in the organization feel that the only way for someone with such low power to get to that position were through favors?

Microaggression are damaging to our workplace environment

Microaggression are damaging to our workplace environment

How to help your team move away from microaggressions and embrace a more inclusive culture?

There are two good ways to stop microaggressions.

1Educating your team members to help them move to an ethno relative stage of cultural sensitivity. As follows:

Acceptance — People are able to shift perspectives to understand that the same “ordinary” behavior can have different meanings in different cultures. They are able to identify how experiences are influenced by one’s culture, background, gender.

Adaptation— People become more competent in their ability to communicate with people who are different.

Integration— People are able to shift easily from one frame of reference to another. They develop empathy for people who are different.

2Having a diverse and inclusive leadership team. One that is made up of similar parts of men, women, people from various ethnic and racial backgrounds, with different levels of ability, who come from a variety of schools of thought, socio-economic backgrounds, and so on.

When everyone feels represented, the workplace becomes more welcoming of differences and as people become more curious about each other, the threat of the unknown starts to disappear and so do microaggressions. The best part is that your talent feels valued which in turn helps improve engagement, retention, and promotion.  A win-win all around. Ready to try it?

 

 

How to Achieve Success in a Male Dominated Industry

What does it take for women to be successful in a male dominated industry in 2018?  In some industries achieving professional success means learning to thrive in a male-dominated workplace. Here are some practical tips to help stand out and succeed!

When working in a male dominated industry, hold yourself to a high standard

One of the best things you can do for your career is to become a respected expert in your field. This is achieved by holding yourself to the highest standards and being willing to put the time to develop your knowledge and skills. You will find that having pertinent information at your fingertips is a major asset in meetings and discussions. Continued learning and personal growth, combined with a positive, confident attitude, will take you far. But keep in mind that male dominated industries may make you feel like you have to know more than everyone to even raise your hand for a challenge or to voice your opinion. This will only hold you back. So find ways to step out of your comfort zone and become visible.

Keep in mind that non-verbal communication is always important, particularly in a male dominated industry- Photo Credit: burst

Keep in mind that non-verbal communication is always important, particularly in a male dominated industry- Photo Credit: burst

Non-verbal communication matters

You should also hold yourself high in a more literal sense. We demonstrate our status and authority nonverbally through our posture and body language. So sit up straight, keep your shoulders back, and hold your head high. It all contributes to projecting gravitas and authority.

When it comes to speech, keep your tone as deep as possible. Research shows authority is conveyed by deeper voices. When you become angry, sometimes when you laugh and talk, or when you are upset, your tone tends to raise and your message becomes less clear. Breath deeply and find a lower register.

Continue to share your points of view in a concise and direct way, and remember that should you be interrupted, it’s important to keep your cool. You may use humor as a way to let your interruptor know that you want to finish your thought and avoid any confrontation.

Read about how Captain Kate succeeded in a male occupation!

Don’t give into traditional ‘roles’ particularly in a male dominated industry

Given the social norms many women and men grew up with, it might still be expected that women will be in charge of tasks like picking up lunch or coffee. Don’t continue to give fuel to this narrative by offering yourself (even before you’re asked) or by quietly accepting an unfair request time and time again. Suggest instead that women and men colleagues take turns to do these tasks and share them in a more collaborative manner. Each team is different, but structures like rotas can be helpful.

During meetings, make sure male and female colleagues share in tasks like making coffee and taking notes

During meetings, make sure male and female colleagues share in tasks like making coffee and taking notes

In male-dominated industry you may need to stand up to sexism

Sectors such as finance, technology and construction, for example, regularly make women fight twice as hard to earn the respect of their male clients and colleagues. It takes steady grit and polite perseverance to overcome this boys’ club mentality.

So how to keep your head above the water? First off, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and your opinions. Confidence is essential– get used to speaking up in meetings and at conferences. Stand up for other women and men when you see them being mistreated. Creating an environment where everyone stands for everyone else will go a long way to improve your workplace and it will send a message to the men in the room of what is expected of them as well.

Also, seek to educate. After all, nothing will change if we aren’t willing to explain to our male peers how specific situations affect and undermine us in the workplace. Including, remainig a bystander in complicated situations. In bringing this to everyone’s attention, you become an advocate for other women in your industry and help make things better for everyone.

Don't miss Bia Figueiredo story, a woman in car-racing! Talk about a male dominated field!
If you don't stand up for yourself -and for others when you see them mistreated - it will be hard to succeed in a male dominated industry or in any other for that matter.

If you don’t stand up for yourself -and for others when you see them mistreated – it will be hard to succeed in a male dominated industry or in any other for that matter.

Be professional and develop a thick skin

Yes – women in the workplace are sometimes treated differently to their male coworkers. If you work in a male-dominated industry with a boys’ club mentality, it’s important not to be over-sensitive. Again, using humor to let men know that they are making a sexist joke, or are asking you to do something they wouldn’t ask of a male colleague, can be a good way to difuse a situation while educating. If you want to be accepted and promoted for your achievements and you work in a male-dominated field, you can’t get horrified when you hear a swear word, for example. You don’t want your colleagues to change the conversation when you approach. And for this to happen, you may need to put your sensitivities aside. Learning about sports to understand many of their conversations is another way to break into their club.

Now, it’s equally important to know when to say “that’s inappropriate.”  You have every right to be treated as a professional and respected at your job. And to get there, you have to be willing to stick up for yourself. Act, speak and carry yourself in the way you want and expect to be treated. Cultivate your executive presence.

In a field that’s mostly male, there will always be critics and people who cross the line. You mustn’t let this stop you from going after what you want and focusing on building your career.

Motivational quote about confidence

Motivational quote about confidence

Start your own business

Thinking of becoming your own boss? I say go for it. More women than ever before are becoming aware of the opportunities available to them through entrepreneurship. Generally speaking, women are open to learning and good at working with others – two vital ingredients needed to run a business.

Naturally, there are startup costs involved – you’ll need a sound business plan and financial order, and you may not be able to pay yourself much of a salary in the first year if you’re starting a business from scratch. The alternative is to buy a business that’s for sale and get a jumpstart on things like branding, processes, and building a customer base.

Over the last three years, the number of women-owned firms launched each day has doubled. Women are now launching an average of 1,200 new businesses a day, which is great news if you’re looking to become an entrepreneur yourself.

In conclusion, to achieve success as a woman in a male-dominated industry, be ready to work hard every day. Never lose confidence or fail to stand up for yourself. Remember that you earned your role for a reason, and know that if you’re prepared to be professional and work hard for what you want, you will eventually overcome any obstacles. Above all, never stop fighting the good fight – because things are definitely getting better.

4 Insights on How to Take a Seat at the Table

My fellow corporate millennial divas, we often think it takes an executive title to empower us to take a seat at the table. I want you to know that you have the power, the voice and the means to take a seat at the table now. To quote the Glinda, The Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz, “You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

At one of my previous employers, an SVP advised our team, “You have to take a seat at the table and then earn it.” Over the years I’ve lived by this motto. It has led to my presenting to CMOs, regional presidents, obtaining sponsorship to attend an international meeting with marketing partners, being appointed to work on corporate strategic initiatives, and many other opportunities.

As we all know, female representation at the highest decision-making positions is low. So, how do you take a seat at the table when you are not invited to the meeting?

You can take a seat at the table even if you don't have an executive role

You can take a seat at the table even if you don’t have an executive role

Four insights on how to take a seat at the table

1First, get out of your own way. At this very moment, stop giving life to the emotions you feel in connection to not getting the invitation to take a seat at the table. As Melissa Raffoni wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “Check your ego at the door.” The emotions cloud the actions you need to take to grab your seat at the table.

Let’s face it, when we don’t get an invitation to a meeting where our hard work will be shared, it’s inevitable to have feelings of rejection or of not being up to par. The lack of an invitation, however, could be due to reasons completely unrelated to us. For example, that the presentation is to a senior executive who only wants direct reports. The truth is that you will seldom find out the exact reason why you were left out, so don’t dwell on it because your emotions can hurt you from being a regular at the table.

The negotiation book, Authentic Negotiating: Clarity, Detachment, & Equilibrium, by Attorney and negotiating strategist Corey Kupfer, explains that even major deals are lost because emotions get in the way.

Best thing you can do is prepare for when you take a seat at the table so you can take advantage of the opportunity.

Best thing you can do is prepare for when you take a seat at the table so you can take advantage of the opportunity.

2Prepare to take a seat at the table. To take your seat at the table, you will need to have a conversation with the organizer to understand the details of the meeting and your role in it. Be clear and succinct with your points. And be sure to do a bit of prep work. According to Corey Kupfer, the majority of people bypass this preparation which is a mistake as it will keep you grounded on the message you want to communicate. You will avoid filler words and, as Kupfer says, ‘with preparation you’re much less likely to get triggered into emotions.’

Take a moment, even if it’s 10 minutes, to objectively write down the reasons why you think you should be part of a particular meeting. I have no doubt there are dozens of reasons why you should have a seat at the table, but you need to narrow them down to your top three. The point of this exercise is not to email your top three reasons to anyone. The point is to give yourself clear, concise talking points when you speak to the meeting organizer.

Here’s a great piece you may want to check out on moving from peer to team leader

3Time to Speak up. Once you have your top points reach out to the meeting organizer for a quick chat. Do it in-person if you happen to be in the same office. When you speak to the organizer, ask questions to understand what’s going on in the meeting. For example, what’s the meeting agenda, what is the main objective and expected outcome, who will be present, etc. Once you’ve heard the answers, you can begin to raise your talking points. Speaking up does not always guarantee you’ll take a seat at the table. The reasons why you may get turned down are too broad to even suggest here what to do if that happens. When I’ve gone through the above steps and was still told I could not attend the meeting, I took a step back to evaluate my next move.

FYI, in one case, I went through the steps I listed above and the business partner told me that the senior executive only wanted direct reports. But there have been other occasions in which the business partner “assumed” the senior executive only wanted direct reports, which turned out not to be the case. So after a little insistence on my part that this assumption be clarified, I was able to go.

Make your opinions count. No sense in taking a seat at the table if you're not going to use it to propel your career forward.

Make your opinions count. No sense in taking a seat at the table if you’re not going to use it to propel your career forward.

4Now you’ve got a seat at the table- It’s time earn it. Once you have the seat at the table it’s time to speak up – ask questions, share your point of view. If you are like me, a woman and Latina and non-senior executive yet, you might find yourself as the minority at the table. Now, in a room where 75% of the talking during an average business meeting is done by men – what are the odds you’ll feel confident to chime in?

I was fortunate to have a mentor a few years ago within a former company who helped me breakout of this fear. The mentor was a senior executive and Latina and her words of advice were: “prepare, stay grounded on the facts, you were not invited to look pretty.”

So I share the same advice with you. Once you take a seat at the table you can’t waste the chance to let your voice be heard. You must do it not just for you but also for all the other women, particular non-white women who are out there without that opportunity. And for the benefit of your organization which can sure use a wider diversity of thought. If you stay quiet or just focused on fitting in all of your efforts will have been worthless. Ready to take your place in writing the next chapter of your organization?

If you’re ready to move to the next level and need a bit of help, check out the Red Shoe Movement Step Up Plus program. That’s what they do best!

The Best Advice I’ve Had As a Female Business Owner

As a female business owner I can attest that as a group we have been an underrepresented for a long time. But gradually, and thankfully, this trend is starting to change — in fact, women are now opening businesses 2.5 times faster than the national average with 11.6 million women-owned businesses, generating more than $1.7 trillion in revenue.

As a female entrepreneur myself, I’m aware of some of the specific and arduous challenges that we often face when launching a business – especially in areas that are typically dominated by men. But lucky for me, I’ve been given some valuable and formative advice along the way – advice that I plan on sharing.

Join the sisterhood of female business owners

For female startup founders, there’s much to be said for making an effort to network with other women. Not just fellow female business owners, but suppliers and vendors as well. Any seasoned business owner will tell you that success is just as much about who you know, as what you do. Together, you can share and solve mutual challenges – and most importantly, you’ll realize you’re not alone.

Start by searching for a women’s business network in your local area. Dedicated groups such as Everywoman are also worth looking into, as they’re aimed at advancing women in business. You may want to try a website like Meetup to discover female business owner groups near you.

Both joining a group and networking one-on-one can really boost your confidence and help you get into your stride as an entrepreneur. If there’s a specific business woman you particularly admire, don’t be afraid to connect via email or LinkedIn to suggest meeting for a coffee. Best case scenario, you end up with a new mentor!

As a female business owner, you have a world at your fingertips. Don't forget to network with others in and out of your field.

As a female business owner, you have a world at your fingertips. Don’t forget to network with others in and out of your field.

Successful Female Business Owners Seek feedback

If you want to be sure your business is heading in the right direction, gathering objective feedback is essential. You need to test your business idea and concepts with the market — it’s the best way to ensure that you have a good enough idea that’s going to galvanize a customer community around it.

Not sure whether your idea has merit? Nowadays, it’s easy to test-run an idea without spending a lot of money. If you’re getting into ecommerce, a subscription CMS like Shopify will only set you back $29 per month – and the first 14 days are free. Crowdfunding is another great way to assess demand for your idea, with websites like Kickstarter and iFundWomen aimed at providing a launchpad for new small businesses, along with coaching.

When you start out with your first business iteration or crowdfunding campaign, be honest with your audience about your journey. Seek feedback on products, branding, and service features in exchange for exclusive deals or ‘grandfather rights’. Make it clear to early adopters that part of your whole launch strategy is gathering their feedback in real-time.

Another form of feedback gathering comes from concurrent competitor analysis. By closely analyzing what your competitors are up to, you can start to form a clearer idea of what your customers look for. A strong analysis means more than simply browsing your competitors’ websites – you need to read their reviews (both positive and negative), scrutinize their web presence, and find out what their customers are saying about them online.

By doing this you can uncover their strengths and weaknesses, and in doing so, make strategic decisions about how you can fill in those gaps for your customers.

Once someone gives you some important feedback, re-invest in that relationship. Open a dialogue with them and make them feel valued as an advocate.

Be giving with your personal brand

It’s important to be strategic about how you come across — your personal brand will have a big impact on your success as female business owner.

Devote time and effort into crafting a mission statement and go all-in when it comes to creating an engaging personal brand. Not only does it paint you in a good light, it can also pave the way to new leads and opportunities.

Make an effort to actually get involved in communities – both on and offline. What subjects and causes are important to you? Join the conversation and speak up. Make the most of networking and speaking opportunities. Get involved in Q&As and expert advice sessions to help solidify your reputation. Volunteer with nonprofits and community groups to give back.

Focus on finding a specialty or a unique hook — this will help you stand out. From your website to your business cards and social media profiles, cultivate a coherent and compelling message.

Keep notes of great ideas you hear or you think about. Successful female entrepreneurs are always on the lookout!

Keep notes of great ideas you hear or you think about. Successful female entrepreneurs are always on the lookout!

Financial Matters Every Female Business Owner Should Know

One of the best pieces of advice I had starting out as a fresh-faced, idealistic female entrepreneur? Live below your means and save money. Frugality is one of the best skills you can master as the mistress of your own financial destiny. As your business expands, you will need to keep investing as new opportunities and ideas arise. Make sure you have the ability to do that – aim to save and/or re-invest around 50% of your earnings within the first few years.

What about when you need a financial injection that you’re unable to provide yourself? Raising capital is, unfortunately, one of the biggest barriers that female entrepreneurs can come up against. So another word of advice: if this is the case for you, seek the help of a professional investor. A pro investor not only validates your business venture, they may also offer useful feedback along the way that will make your business stronger. At the same time, they will also want to see evidence of your profitability and current financial standing — don’t seek investment without doing some number-crunching yourself first.

Find a mentor

I cannot overstate the value of having a trusted advisor in the early days of running your business – right when there’s a million and one things to do, and only you making the big decisions. Not only will they train and support you, they will also be there for you to call on in a tricky situation. After all, they’ve seen it all before.

Naturally, as a female business owner, I would recommend finding a female mentor who has herself experienced similar challenges associated with starting a business, such as gender discrimination. Without my own mentor, Jennifer, I highly doubt my own business ventures would be where they are today. Having also a male mentor, however, can help you with any gender-related blind spots you may have.

So how do you find a mentor? If you don’t already have someone in mind, try reaching out to your existing contacts for referrals. LinkedIn is an excellent place to start – this is how I found Jennifer, who was a 2nd degree connection I was able to forge an introduction with. Alternatively, you may want to look into services aimed at matching mentors with entrepreneurs, such as MicroMentor.

Being a sponge is critical to your success as a female business owner. From podcasts to books, find your poison and stick to it!

Being a sponge is critical to your success as a female business owner. From podcasts to books, find your poison and stick to it!

Be a sponge

As a female entrepreneur, you need to learn to soak up knowledge. Not just at the start, but consistently throughout your business journey. We must never stop learning and growing.

We all learn differently: you may prefer books, audiobooks, videos, or interactive learning. Personally, I favor podcasts and extensive reading. I had no idea how enlightening podcasts can be – or how many of them are out there – until relatively recently. It changed my world.

Below I’ve listed five of my favorite podcasts for women in business, along with five of the best books I’ve read on the subject of being a self-taught entrepreneur.

Podcasts

  • Being Boss – a podcast for creative entrepreneurs
  • The Great Girlfriends Show – personal and professional development
  • Raise Your Hand Say Yes – behind the scenes of creative businesses
  • She Means Business – incredible stories of female entrepreneurs
  • Women of the Hour – a podcast about friendship, love and work

Books

  • The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay
  • Female Innovators at Work: Women on Top of Tech by Danielle Newnham
  • If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kelly Cutrone and Meredith Bryan
  • In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney
  • Worry-Free Money: The Guilt-Free Approach to Managing Your Money and Your Life by Shannon Lee Simmons

I believe that when we equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge, we will be closer to achieving an equal and innovative business landscape that will make the world a better, more vibrant, and more tolerant place. Why don’t you tell us about your journey? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.