Staff turnover. Economic downturns and fluctuations. Lack of financial and/or emotional support. These are all common issues that negatively affect businesses and their owners. How they are managed makes the difference between a good business and a great one. What can women entrepreneurs do to put themselves in the latter category?
Let’s acknowledge the fact that navigating the ups and downs of business ownership is challenging. As women entrepreneurs, we constantly try to be our best and show the world we can accomplish what men primarily did in previous generations: run a profitable business on our own.
Statistics show that we are succeeding. As of 2014, there were 9.1 million women-owned enterprises in the United States employing 7.9 million people, and earning more than $1.4 trillion in revenues. Last year, 1,288 women-owned firms were started each day – up from 506 daily during the recession (2007-14).
With the last decade’s shaky economy, it has been difficult for many businesses to keep hiring and avoid layoffs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 60 million Americans were hired in April 2015, but 57.2 million separations occurred.
This resulted in a 2.8 million net employment gain, yet speaks to the constant ebb and flow of employment of late. Interestingly, women-owned firms added about 274,000 jobs between 2007 and 2014, while men- and equally-owned firms experienced an employment decline.
While our numbers are swelling and we are collectively letting our inner entrepreneur shine, we typically don’t let on about the stressors our endeavors create. But they can’t be overcome unless we address them. When building a business, it’s imperative to have people you trust on your side. This includes family and friends, advisors, and employees you can count on.
Unfortunately, uncertainty in the economy and business world is the norm. It is real life. Your most reliable assistant or best creative mind may relocate. Your biggest client may change vendors. Your family life could suddenly become “Days of our Lives” material.
These events – and others like them – have the potential to adversely affect your profitably and ability to cope.
To weather these kinds of challenges, I’ve employed what I call the “PDF Strategy” – persistence, determination, and focus. This is the centering of my thoughts and energies on my ultimate end goal – the enduring success of my business – and away from the temptation to walk away when times get tough.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Truly, when you have pushed yourself through a seemingly un-surmountable challenge in your business, you gain confidence and the sense that you can, in fact, make it successful no matter what comes your way. This makes the next storm that much easier to weather and lends you the ability to adjust your perspective.
By engaging the PDF Strategy, you become more of a critical thinker and strategist. You can cut through the clutter of problems and tackle the root of them much sooner. You become more efficient and focused, and less distracted by the “small stuff.”
While this strategy has assisted me in staying in business – and expanding it – for nearly 20 years despite the economy, staff separations and additions, headquarter moves, and client fluctuations, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy.
Many things in this world will prove distracting. Emotions are real and must be processed and managed. We are people and have feelings. Remember that it’s okay to feel upset, scared, or unsure – but don’t let those experiences take away your focus.
You started your business because you have a passion and you want the freedom to live it and manage it your own way. There is always a workable solution to your problem, and it can be one that someone may need to help with –or one that needs some time and creativity to figure out.
Take a breath. Reach out to your network. Live the persistence, determination, and focus strategy. Your business will flourish and your success will be yours to savor.