How to level up as a female entrepreneur
Whatever stage your business is at - whether you're thinking of starting out, or you're taking a fresh look at your business plan for your next level of growth - there are benefits to learning from those who have gone before you. Ana Pindoria, owner of business mentoring and coaching firm, Hi-Juice, draws on 30 years' experience to offer her advice to help you move to the next level.
Is there such a thing as an entrepreneurial gene? No, not really. In my experience, all great female leaders are born the moment that they identify and clarify their ‘why’. From there, you have the beginnings of a roadmap that can take you on the journey to personal, professional and financial fulfilment.
I mention finances specifically because all successful entrepreneurs need to be financially driven – don’t kid yourself otherwise. Money gives you the power to do more, see more and live more. It opens up opportunities and is the exchange for experiencing your worldly passions.
Where many leaders – women and men – trip up, is that they use the pursuit of wealth as their sole motivation, without first putting in the work to understand their core values as a person. Entrepreneurs must be clear on what makes them happy in order to grow a business in alignment with their core personal values. This is the secret to levelling up.
A three-pronged strategy for success
1. Get a handle on what’s important to you.
Regardless of your current situation, to make real progress you must gain clarity. What level of income you actually need – not just right now, but long-term. What does financial freedom look like for you? How many hours do you wish to work? What does balance look like for you and how do you want to manage your family life?
I see too many female entrepreneurs get torn between wanting to be a great mother or a great partner who is always there for their family whilst at the same time, seeking to launch or escalate the growth of their business to massive heights.
The uncomfortable truth here is something that many coaches and aspirational speakers neglect to address: there are only so many hours in the day and you cannot do everything.
Decide what’s important, in what order, in accordance with your core values. Only then can you move forwards with a clear vision and realistic timelines.
A key point here, not being able to do everything at once doesn’t mean not being able to do everything eventually. Many women are impatient and easily discouraged if they feel they can’t ‘have it all’.
Initially, all startups will require significant input from the founder for the first few years. But remember, once your business is out of a deep growth phase you can delegate more and allow more automation into the infrastructure.
2. Get super clear on your purpose.
There will be times when business ownership is far from a walk in the park and you may wish to give up. The only way you push through is by having total clarity on your purpose – this will allow you to draw on your resilience.
Apply the same ‘why’ principle to your business that you do for yourself and have a clear vision of what you want to create. What is it about your product or service that speaks to you? What problem are you solving and for whom? What difference will your business make to people’s lives?
When you have a clear purpose, adopting a growth mindset and seizing opportunities becomes logical, not exceptional.
3. Get to grip with the financials.
Women tell me time and time again that the financials are daunting. It’s one of the most common weaknesses that female entrepreneurs identify in themselves.
I cannot stress enough: do not let your passion and excitement alone drive you. From market research into competitor pricing to working capital required – a solid business plan is crucial to underpin your business. To be successful, the model must work.
You make sustainable profits and you need to identify, or create, an increasing demand for what you offer in order to grow and scale.
Growth comes from sustainability, so don’t ever try to grow your enterprise from a place of financial peril.
Make sure you have enough working capital to sustain you during your early years and have a clear understanding of your break-even point.
Do you have to be hard-nosed?
My advice for women in business is this: you must be firm, but fair. Today business is never just about the product or service - business is personal. Women are inherently more emotional, and I think it’s a valuable asset in business.
The moment you let go of what others think, your own limiting beliefs, just be yourself and ‘do the work’ you won’t need to be hard, soft or anything that takes you away from your core values.
I’m often asked for my ‘golden nuggets’ – things that I’ve learnt in the last 30 years and that I now employ in my own businesses and those of my clients, no matter the industry or sector they’re in. These are my top four:
- Be patient and be prepared to work a lot harder than you ever did in an employed role.
- Know your worth and stay true to your core values.
- Operate at all times with a growth and intentional mindset.
- Accept that you can never see the whole picture whilst you’re in the frame – seek out experienced mentors, coaches, consultants and fellow entrepreneurs to help you. Be the student. Keep learning.
Ana Pindoria is a serial entrepreneur who, since starting her first business aged 25, has gone on to build multiple successful enterprises in the education, retail and property sectors. Today, as the owner of business mentoring and coaching firm, Hi-Juice, she supports aspiring entrepreneurs and established business owners alike to achieve growth and balance. A passionate advocate for women in business, Ana has worked with over 250 women, sharing her knowledge and insight into what makes - and sustains - powerful female leaders.