Top Ten Tips for Female Entrepreneurs: Gems of Wisdom from The NextWomen DWEN Interview Series
After 35 fabulous interviews and over 46,000 hits on our site, The NextWomen DWEN Interview Series has come to an end. In one last article related to it, we're bringing you some of our favourite gems of wisdom
from the series: invaluable tips for female entrepreneurs from some truly inspirational women.
"Focus. Too often, and because they are very opportunistic, young businesses chase too many options, too many features, too many channels.
"And because most often they are operating with limited resources, they can’t do all of those things well enough to rise above the competition and sustain that competitive advantage. It’s far better to pursue one, focused opportunity and execute exceptionally than to do too many things ordinarily.
"That advice is universal, regardless of the gender, age, or market of the entrepreneur".
"Always listen to what your gut tells you about people – whether they are employees, business alliances or investors. If in doubt, never be afraid to walk away".
"The one lesson I learned the hard way was there is no substitute for making the right hiring decision. Early on in my career I thought I could hire “B” level talent and be successful. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My error in judgment resulted in some tough early lessons that were imprinted on me".
"Most every time I see a business failing to achieve its potential the root cause is tied to the the business failing to hire “A” level talent".
"I speak to MBA classes as well as entrepreneurs’ groups all the time, and a key piece of advice I give is always the same. The most important attribute for an entrepreneur is to ‘redefine failure.’ Very successful entrepreneurs usually have had numerous previous experiences that others would see as ‘failures’ – businesses that didn’t succeed, careers that were stalled. Successful entrepreneurs view their past as learning experiences. They build on their past instead of being buried by it.
"As for differences between male and female entrepreneurs, one is that women often feel they need to be perfect to move forward, while men are typically far more confident and don’t hold themselves to a standard of perfection. Women feel like they can succeed only if they do ALL their homework first.
"If a woman wants to start a business, she’ll often feel she has to do months or years of planning, start small. Men often think bigger and move faster. Women need – and deserve –more of that confidence".
"I constantly advise new companies and entrepreneurs to focus on two things: people and mission. Nothing is more important than to find, attract, retain and lead good talents. That is true not only for startups, but especially for them. The right people are the very key for success. Most of the times you can attract the good ones because you have more than a job to offer them: you can offer the challenge to make the world better. Even in a microcosm of a startup, most good people are driven by great challenges that do not always involve money.
"So if the company has a truly good mission, it is easier to find good people to share the dream of building something amazing.
"Men and women tend to need different things when starting a business. And we need more women starting to do that. Usually they are only a few. Women look most of the time for more emotional support than men at the beginning. But men are more likely to need help on the consumer’s perspective".
"Research, research, research. Know your market inside and out, but at the end of the day-go with your gut. Trust your instincts, and you actually can make anything possible.
"Be willing to make sacrifices in the early days. It will come in the form of free time, money and your social life. But once you have your feet on solid ground, it all evens out.
"Know when to divide and conquer. You have to be willing to let go and trust your business partners. Unfortunately you can’t do everything, and it certainly won’t be efficient or effective if you do.
"Be passionate about what you do. If you’re investing this much of your life into it, make sure it’s worth the effort and it’s something you’re proud of.
"However, always stay grounded. You will inevitably have some humbling moments (like mine: speaking to a group of four people on a rainy Saturday in a basement of the hotel!), but never be “too good for” anything as you’re building your business".
"I would say the most important piece of advice I could give any entrepreneur is to be financially prepared for anything. Sound financial management is critical, not only in tough times, but in times of growth as well".
"Be confident in your own credentials to have a seat at the table.
"Build your network of advisors, experts and sources from the very beginning to give you access to the human capital you will need to access financial capital, customers and talent;
"Understand your revenue streams, something many business founders overlook at their peril".
"If my children were embarking on a path of entrepreneurship I would advise them to be very thoughtful and diligent about researching the people and entities with whom they decided to do business.
"Collaborations, partnerships and business agreements that are built on a foundation of mutual benefit, understanding and trust have the greatest likelihood of being successful".
"One bit of advice I would share with women who experience success is to keep going. Keep trying new things and taking new risks. If you’ve achieved success once, you obviously have what it takes to do it again. Whether that means starting something completely new, or simply taking your current venture to new heights, don’t give in to the apparent comforts of complacency".
The Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) celebrates the wonderful accomplishments of women in business, whilst looking forward at how we can progress and learn from each other. Natural networkers and relationship builders, women have innate flair for entrepreneurship. With DWEN, Dell is helping women in business to expand their networks while offering technology capabilities designed to help them innovate and grow their businesses.
The NextWomen is in partnership with DWEN to bring you a series of 40 interviews with the world's most influential female founders, investors and decision makers: The NextWomen DWEN Interview Series.
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