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A closer look at female entrepreneurship and success

By Samantha Garner | February 4, 2012

Female entrepreneurs make an outstanding contribution to the Canadian economy, their local communities and their families. It takes a special combination of skill and ability to manage the demands of entrepreneurship or self-employment while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Women seem to be masters of multi-tasking – running a small business, many from home, while juggling the demands of young families and aging parents. Many men have these abilities too, but the success rate of female-run micro-businesses is higher than that of men – making us want to investigate the characteristics of female business owners more closely. Let’s look at some recent research on female entrepreneurship and success rates from Dr. Robert Hisrich’s The Female Entrepreneur:

  1. Female entrepreneurs as a whole undertake more research and planning in the pre-start-up stage of their businesses. Women are generally willing to spend more time to lower the risk of an action than are men. This is one of the reasons for the higher level of success of female-run businesses – we know that planning, research and preparation is associated with higher levels of success in small business.
  2. Women are in general well organized and good time managers – additional demands placed on women due to multiple and overlapping roles they may fill in their lives, particularly if they have a family. Small business success requires development of exceptional organizational and planning skills, and women who hone these skills in their daily lives seem to transfer them naturally to business.
  3. Women tend to be more conservative and manage cashflow and budgets well, particularly in the early stages of business development. This bodes well for the bumpy ride of early-stage entrepreneurship, when making do with what you have or stretching your dollars can mean the difference between success and closing up shop.
  4. Women, in general, are more likely to seek advice and counselling in business sooner and more often than are men. The propensity for men to try and figure it out on their own in business is one of the factors that lead to higher levels of business failure for men.
  5. Women’s communication styles are more likely to be collaborative than competitive. Women emphasize relationship-building, team-building, collaboration and co-operation more often than men in business.

Of course, Dr. Hisrich points to areas of weakness for most female entrepreneurs as well. Things we need to work on are: negotiation skills, developing stronger business networks, taking more calculated risks (like obtaining a loan to grow a company’s product line or marketing strategy), and becoming more comfortable with the financial and accounting functions of our companies. In 2010, we compiled a list of challenges faced by female entrepreneurs, and we think many of them are still prevalent today.

Do you have any female entrepreneurship success stories? Are you, or do you know, a female entrepreneur who’s got a great small business? Sound off in the comments!

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