Despite growing efforts to shift the status quo and even the playing field for women in business, today’s business climate still often disadvantages women pursuing success in their field. Whether pursuing a position in the executive cabinet, equal funding access for a business startup, or management advancement opportunities in any sector, women often feel that they have to push harder, perform orders of magnitude better, and wait longer than their male counterparts for comparable opportunities.
However, female entrepreneurs are surmounting these challenges every day. Small numbers of high-profile females like Tory Burch or Sheryl Sandberg that have reached stratospheric levels of success are paving the way for others to follow in their footsteps and are advocating for women in business. And at virtually every level of business, women are gaining percentage points regardless of industry or role type.
For example, the number of female-owned enterprises in the United States grew by 150% between 1997 and 2014. By employing strategic measures such as those below, women in business can make strides towards business success and not only achieve their personal career goals, but help widen the path for future female entrepreneurs.
Know You Are Not Alone
A vital part of reaching any achievement is finding a good coach. Women in business can gain tremendous support from connecting with mentors or peer networks. If you are looking for ways to develop professionally and meet career goals, join a women’s network of other women in business or of women that hold higher-level positions. Seek a mentor who holds a position similar to one you would like to reach and ask them to meet regularly with you at a time that would be convenient for them. Finding peer and mentor support as you pursue business goals will help you navigate the challenges, choices, and opportunities that become a part of the journey.
Understand Your Data
In the business world, having a clear understanding of the data can prove the difference between success and failure. This is true for both individuals and organizations.
There are a number of benefits to understanding and leveraging data, with one of the leading benefits including performance management. To make sure you’re performing at your highest level, you’ll want to be sure to use data to plan, monitor, develop, rate and reward.
Whether you are running your own business or act as part of a corporate team, make sure you take the initiative to dive into the data and help your team or colleagues understand its importance.
No matter who you are, business requires backbone. And for women who want to excel, being fearless is paramount. Sooner or later, you will find yourself in a scenario that requires you to stand your ground, deliver hard truth, or make difficult decisions.
To prepare yourself for those moments and to ensure that you won’t fall by the wayside or shrink back into the status quo when confronted with that choice, start developing your business strength now. Try to make it a regular practice to perform tasks that are outside of your comfort zone. What things makes you nervous, afraid, or uncomfortable? Make a list and start doing them.
Decrease Your Risk
One of the best ways to prove yourself, whether to supervisors, stakeholders, investors, or clients, is to display business savvy in your decision-making. People in business make decisions every day that may appear courageous, advantageous, or gutsy. They may receive praise, promotions, or favorable attention.
However, decisions that don’t include thorough data analysis, risk assessment, and planning can result in disaster. In an article published by Forbes.com, author Lisa Rabasca Roepe advises taking steps to decrease financial risk. At whatever capacity you make decisions — whether for your own startup, within a corporate team, or as a corporate executive — demonstrate thorough planning and risk assessment. This can help you avoid costly problems and gain respect, often increasing trust in your brand, paving the way for future promotion, or increasing your value to your organization.
As a female entrepreneur or businessperson, you will undoubtedly encounter difficulties and may even experience unfair treatment or disproportionate hurdles than those your male counterparts face. However, by intentionally developing your business skills and investing in yourself, you can position yourself for the best chance of long-term success.