Your business is chugging along and you’re ready to take the next step. If you want to expand your company but aren’t sure where to start, check out the following tips:
Believe in Yourself
Being a female entrepreneur can be hard. Entrepreneurship is still a male-dominated field, and you may feel like you don’t fit into the boys club. But you can do a lot with a little faith in yourself. Founder and CEO of Trunkettes Hilary Genga tells Business News Daily that women entrepreneurs should be themselves and have confidence in who they are. Be proud of your accomplishments and let it show in your strut!
CEO and president of Jelmar, Alison Gutterman, also states that you should get rid of any negative self-talk, or “head trash,” because it’s stopping you from reaching your potential. That was the inspiration behind ‘Shift… Your Mindset’ exercise, that I recently created, to help women dispel limiting beliefs, excuses, fear and other toxic build-up that has been causing them to play small, sabotage and settle for less than you truly deserve.
In addition, if you need a little help with your self-confidence or a pep talk before you take this next step, Gutterman suggests joining female entrepreneurship groups for support and mentorship.
Look for Funding
It can be more difficult for women-led businesses to find traditional funding. Instead of only looking at the bank for a loan, use your networking skills to find investors, different types of loans and grants. President and CEO of Full Circle Insights, Bonnie Crater, explains that investors tend to stick with members of their own “tribe.” When you’re looking for angel investors, look for VC firms that have female partners as well as women-based funding and educational workshops to help you learn how to grow your company.
Crowdfunding is a cutting edge way of raising the much needed money required by businesses to sustain. A group of investors share their resources to support endeavors initiated by individuals or organizations. Many industries can take advantage of crowdfunding; from political campaigns; service or product based businesses; artist; scientific researchers to software development.
Entrepreneur also recommends looking for grants that are made for women-led companies. Start by searching your state’s government website for funding opportunities. The Minority Business Development Agency is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce that also aims to help women grow their businesses. If you still don’t find anything that suits your needs, research private grants, such as The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program.
Keep in mind that FREE money sounds great; however, grants are usually geared towards non-profit organizations; come with stipulations; and navigating thru the grant process can be daunting.
One of the best ways to grow your company is to expand your network and audience. The more people who hear about your business and want to learn more, the more you will succeed. Start by boosting your social media presence. If you sell picture-worthy items, head to Instagram and Pinterest to show off your most popular items and your company’s personality. Post a well-composed photo at least once a day to gain more organic followers. Determine how you want to make your followers feel and what you want them to know about your business.
For example, Amway’s Instagram account is full of inspirational posts to encourage followers to use their products or join their team. You also should take a look at the platforms’ target audiences to make sure you’re marketing yourself to the right people and that they can see your posts frequently.
Expand your business network by meeting with other entrepreneurs. You may find a great partner to collaborate with or some new people to spread your name throughout their networks. Meetup is an easy way to find networking events and find like-minded individuals. The more you learn how to speak about your business, the more followers you’ll have.
Yes to Name Dropping
Why not ask your existing clients for referrals? All you need to do is ‘ask’ them for up to three friends or colleague’s names that may benefit from your services. Once the names and contact information is given, make sure you ask for permission to use your client’s names when contacting these referrals. When contacting referrals, let each know that your client suggested you call them. This is a great way to bridge the awkwardness to get one foot in the door with ease.
Example: ‘Hello, Ms. Jones. My name is Sylvia Browder from Browder Consulting Group. Your friend Ms. Greenberry suggested I call you. She thought you might be interested in growing your small business and I’d like to discuss your needs and give you suggestions for growth. I’d like to make an appointment with you – at your convenience, of course. What day works best for you this week?”
Remember that people do business with people they know and trust. So, if your client is happy with your products/services, then chances are those referrals will turn into clients.
You don’t have to do anything different to expand your company because you’re a woman. However, you can take advantage of this fact to help your company grow and expand. With hard work and belief in yourself, you can inspire other women to follow in your footsteps.
In what ways have you grown your business?