In her role as head of small business banking at Capital One, Keri Gohman knows a lot about entrepreneurship. She also knows that women, by virtue of running more than a third of America’s privately owned businesses, are “are making headway as business starters and leaders.” It’s a trend she’d like to see continue, and with that in mind, she’s written a great Washington Post piece tiled “Five Ways Women Can Take It to the Next Level in Business.”
According to Gohman, women should begin by doing their homework. “Have a plan,” she writes, and that means assessing your finances, learning all about the market and your prospective customers, and putting together a sound proposal. When it comes time to approach those who’ll help you achieve your goals — bankers, partner, investors, etc. — share your ideas confidently.
More than simply being confident, you’ve got to really believe in your business and “be willing to take risks,” which is tip No. 2. You can’t be afraid of stumbling along the way, she says, as everyone makes mistakes, and they’re learning experiences.
Not that you should have to learn completely on your own. Tip No. 3 is, “Don’t do it all by yourself,” and as Gohman writes, effective leaders “take charge and delegate (or outsource) supporting responsibilities and business functions to other experts so they can focus on leading their business.” Instead of micromanaging, empower your team to make decisions and play an active role.
Like the first three tips, No. 4 applies to men and women, but it’s especially applicable to ladies: “Find balance.” Research suggests that as female employment rates rise, women take on more household responsibilities. Before starting businesses, women should sit down with family (especially spouses) and friends to discuss expectations and roles. The key here, Gohman writes, is to ensure lots of “flexibility, patience and support.”
Lastly, Gohman advises women to “ask for help.” In particular, they should use websites like BusinessAdvising.org to find mentors — the value of which cannot be overstated — to serve as guides through the trials and tribulations of building something from the ground up.