Women continue to impact the business world in growing numbers — 30 percent of all businesses are owned by women, according to the 2012 annual report of the National Women’s Business Council. Those firms have 7.5 million employees and a combined payroll of $217.6 billion.
But even as they assume more leadership roles in business, women are still counted on to manage households.
“Women face different circumstances than men in the world of business because of the demands placed on them in their personal lives,” says Camille Ussery, senior vice president and manager of Small Business Banking at ViewPoint Bank. “Women’s lives are typically spread thinner, and the pressure is greater because of it.”
Smart Business spoke with Ussery about the time-crunch challenge and how to make sure business opportunities don’t fall through the cracks.
What are some of the unique challenges women face when starting up and running a business?
Women are making decisions in the boardroom and then making decisions about what’s for dinner, child care and who will pick up their child from the track meet.
Granted, there have been many changes in the way men are helping out with household responsibilities. But often the bulk of these responsibilities still fall squarely on women’s shoulders.
As a result, many women feel they are barely able to keep their heads above water. While they tend to do a great job in multitasking, the result may be that business opportunities fall by the wayside. Then there is the added challenge of competing in a male-dominated business world.
What is the solution to the unique challenges that women business owners face?
Because women are making a huge economic impact in the marketplace, many outstanding organizations have formed to provide education and resources for women in business. These organizations — from the local chamber of commerce to the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at the U.S. Small Business Administration — offer special courses, workshops and programs just for women who are either starting their own business or already own a business.
How can women make sure that they are doing all they can to help their business succeed?
One thing that many successful business owners do — male or female — is to create and maintain business relationships. Consider organizations and clubs that can help develop business relationships. Because of the time factor, this is one business opportunity that is often overlooked.
However, it’s important for women to stay visible in their industry and in the community. Adding networking to the to-do list could be as simple as attending one chamber event per month.
Also, continually take advantage of educational opportunities that are available in the community. There are a host of seminars, workshops and courses that a woman can take to not only learn but also to fulfill the goal of networking. Many of these workshops are provided as a community service and are useful in developing marketing techniques, effective sales strategy and time management.
Many times business owners only consider a banking relationship as a source for working capital. However, business bankers who specialize in meeting the unique needs of a business can provide much more. With ever-changing technology, your business banker can provide resources and ideas to help manage the day-to-day transactional needs to maximize the flow of cash within a business. They work directly with business owners in many industries and can often provide financial solutions to meet diverse needs as well as networking opportunities for increased business.
How else can women improve the way they conduct business?
Businesses frequently have limited working capital. Women need to have all the right financial components of a business and to learn about cash flow and contingency plans — without money, the business will fail.
The best thing a woman can do is to educate herself, learn as much as she can about the elements of a successful business, and reach out to people in her industry and community for help and advice. ●
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