Women-owned companies make up more than 36 percent of all businesses in the U.S., a 30 percent increase in women entrepreneurs since 2007, according to the 2012 United States Census. Worldwide, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reports that entrepreneurship among women is growing at 13 percent versus 5 percent among men.
Still, women face unique obstacles to entrepreneurship. Research indicates that if the disparities between men and women were addressed, the global gross domestic product could receive a $28 trillion boost by the year 2025.
One of the challenges facing women interested in starting their own business is a lack of mentors. Because men have dominated so many industries for so long, young entrepreneurs often find it hard to identify accomplished women in their fields to learn from.
That's why it's vital for women's empowerment for those who have already had success in their business ventures to reach out to the next generation of female entrepreneurs. Serving as a mentor may seem like a daunting responsibility, but its rewards are well worth your time and effort. Keeping these tips in mind can help you empower women around you:
1. ENCOURAGE THEM NOT TO RUN FROM FAILURE.
Business success requires risk, and it's impossible for every risky move to be successful. Failure is expected along the way and must not be feared. When young entrepreneurs fail, help them analyze what went wrong and then encourage them to keep going. Your positive spin on their failures can help them remain confident.
2. HELP THEM STUDY THE COMPETITION..
Researching the competition is vital to the success of any new business. Online reviews and articles are a good starting point for research. Entrepreneurs can also solicit direct feedback by surveying or interviewing customers of their competitors. After gathering information, encourage your mentees to create lists of their competitors' strengths and weaknesses. This will help them identify areas where they can provide value to potential customers and win their business.
3. PROPOSE NEW FORMS OF MARKETING.
Young women entrepreneurs can gain exposure by establishing themselves as experts in their fields. Encourage your mentees to offer their services as public speakers for local and regional events. They can also hold seminars and events to educate the public on topics related to their businesses. Guest blogging and appearances on TV, radio, and podcasts can also raise their public profile. Every time an entrepreneur speaks or writes for an audience, they are also marketing their business and reaching new prospective customers.
4. KEEP YOUR DOOR OPEN AND GET READY TO OPEN OTHERS' DOORS.
Budding entrepreneurs need a lot of support, especially in the early days of their businesses. Let those you mentor know that they can contact you with all types of questions, even those that might lie outside your area of expertise. Commit to helping them find solutions. When a situation goes beyond your skillset, turn to your network and make the necessary introductions. You're likely to find that many of your contacts are as eager to play a role in women's empowerment as you are.
5. OPEN THEIR EYES TO WHO IS AROUND THEM.
In business, other people can make or break your success. Young female entrepreneurs may struggle to identify individuals who are holding them back with negativity. As an impartial third party, you can gently shift their perspective, helping them recognize the toxicity of these relationships. On the flip side, you can point out people who would be assets to their efforts.
6. CHALLENGE THEM TO DREAM BIG.
Women are often taught to keep their goals small, but true success requires a bold vision. Have your mentees set an overall lofty goal. Then, break that goal into smaller, manageable steps. Celebrate their accomplishments along the way and then move their focus to what comes next.
7. GIVE WOMEN EMPOWERMENT GIFTS
Support from other women can go a long way to empower young entrepreneurs. One simple way to show support for a woman striving to start her own business is by giving her a meaningful present. Business books written specifically for a female audience are among the best women empowerment gifts. Successful entrepreneurs are constantly learning. One study found that the average CEO finishes 60 books every year.
Another great gift idea is a journal that she can use to record her thoughts, set goals, and reflect on her failures and successes. You could also cover all or part of the cost for online classes, mastermind sessions, and continuing education courses to help her grow her leadership skills and develop her business acumen.
Being a good listener is also a powerful gift for women's empowerment. Reach out to young entrepreneurs in your life and invite them to vent. Even if you don't have all the answers, merely validating their thoughts and feelings can go a long way toward empowering them.