Here’s a sad fact, taken from Forbes. Women own 40% of businesses in the US but only make up 10% of venture-backed businesses. So do you feel like your gender might put you at a disadvantage in the world of entrepreneurship? Of course it shouldn’t. Women actually have a number of strengths that put us at an advantage, and I’ll go through some specific examples for you:
Interpersonal skills: There have been numerous studies looking at the differences between women and men in the workplace and those studies have demonstrated that women place more value on relationships, and typically have stronger interpersonal skills than their male counterparts. So this is something we need to really take advantage of when starting up a new business. There are many great networking opportunities for women (I’ve written about it in this blog post) and this plays to our strengths. Where men may see each other as competition, we’ve learned the power and the value in working together and creating strength in numbers. So remember to take advantage of this. Use your interpersonal skills to strengthen your startup and build your business network from day one.
Persuasiveness: Studies have also shown that women have better persuasion skills. So it should be fairly obvious how this becomes a strength in a startup business. Whatever your business is about, you are going to have to do some form of selling. Having the talent to persuade your customers that your product or service is something they can’t live without is an art form. So its great to think that women may have a bit of an advantage in this area.
Risk taking: There was a study into gender differences between male and female bankers and they found that women bankers actually take more risks than their male colleagues. So if you ever thought risk- taking was a macho behaviour, think again. Intelligent, calculated, strategic risk taking in business can be a huge advantage in a startup and it’s really important for the growth that a new business needs to thrive. So contrary to public perception, we women really do have an advantage there.
Greater empathy: There have been studies to demonstrate that, even as young children, there is a demonstrable difference in the amount of empathy exhibited by males and females. Studies suggest women are biologically programmed to be more empathetic. And what does empathy do? It makes you understand people better. More specifically, it makes you understand your customers better. And what happens when you can really emphathise with your customers? They love you. They will buy from you, and they will return to buy from you time and time again.
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