10 Work Smarter, Not Harder Tips for Women entrepreneurs

shutterstock-woman Nearly 30 percent of all US businesses nationwide were women-owned.  Entrepreneurship offers women flexible schedules to juggle family life, thus fueling the tremendous growth in female business owners. While things are easier for women entrepreneurs and they have more access to resources, mentors and technology to help them launch and grow their businesses, research suggests that the glass ceiling still exists. A recent Small Business Administration study found that businesses with women on the management team are the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurial companies, yet few receive venture capital money. “While resources are often scarce, time is a precious commodity entrepreneurs need to build businesses, understand customers and sell products and/or services,” said Lori Bolas, Director, Communications at SurePayroll Inc, a provider of easy online payroll services to small businesses nationwide. “I talk to women entrepreneurs almost daily and what I hear repeatedly is that while women are great at multi-tasking they get sucked into all the operational tasks that eat away at the critical hours needed to develop strategy, build relationships and move the needle on growth. What we’ve learned from our small business customers is that there are key steps and resources that can make a tremendous difference in scaling your dream.” How can women entrepreneurs become educated on taking a dream and launching it into a business? Here are SurePayroll’s key steps to build your business: 1. Seek mentors to develop strategy and a balanced approach to building small businesses. While new ideas drive entrepreneurs to launch businesses, there are many people who have already learned from experience. Find experts across different business functions and seek support. Network with friends and family. Find organizations to help. Resources are available at the U.S. Small Business Administration, Micromentor.org or SCORE. Women-specific entrepreneur organizations, like Ladies Who Launch (http://www.ladieswholaunch.com/) or Women 2.0 (http://women2.com/), connect women entrepreneurs and hold events, provide training opportunities and access to potential mentors. Remember that it’s important to seek both male and female mentors to navigate the business environment. 2. Develop a plan to keep track of all financial records and identify an accountant. Financial records are critical – for annual or quarterly taxes, payroll, potential investors and, in the event of an audit, proper documentation is key. Find a reputable accountant to help manage the business. Automate back office, redundant tasks like payroll. There are affordable, easy online payroll options that will give you peace of mind and save you hours each month. 3. Determine how to staff your business. Strategy development includes plans to staff the business. Develop a staffing plan and begin to research and interview potential candidates. Develop an interview process with open-ended questions for candidates to think through solutions to real problems businesses face. Use referrals, conduct due diligence and find true partners to delegate projects. 4. Harness digital tools to run your business. Do you need an office or can staff work remotely? Do you need full-time and part-time staff? Online tools, allow entrepreneurs to leverage efficiency and keep down costs. Use social networking tools to market the business like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. Identify tools and leverage messages across multiple platforms to save precious time with efficiency. 5. Understand Alpha women that everything won’t be perfect. And that’s ok. Constantly seeking perfection can slow down business development and someone else may hit the market first. In truth, nothing is perfect and continuous improvement should be part of business processes. 6. Develop a plan to scale your business. Budding entrepreneurs often think of the big buy out from a large business, but that is not the norm. Often businesses grow, then plateau. To scale a business, selling solutions to customers are only pieces of a larger puzzle. Delivering the solutions – and meeting growing demand takes strategic planning. Think about growth strategies like influxes of capital, processes, measurements as well as resources to help plan how to invest money – when, where, with whom – to help reach long-term growth. And constantly seek ways to influx capital into the business to prepare for growth. 7. Continuously listen and learn from your customers. Put mechanisms in place to gain feedback from customers. Talk to customers all the time. Don’t lose touch with customers while running the business. Otherwise, someone else will listen to the customer’s changing needs and provide a new solution. Evolve or perish. 8. Manage entrepreneurial expectations. The idea of running a business is often far different than the reality. With small operating budgets, start-ups often begin on a dime with one or a few people running the business – and that may include many unforeseen duties. Keep long-term goals in mind and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. 9. Mentally prepare for unforeseen challenges. Similar to life, few things go according to plan. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s enlightening. Being an entrepreneur is exciting, exhausting, difficult and rewarding – sometime even in the same day. In the end, be prepared for constant change and learn to roll with the punches. 10. Go for it…and enjoy the journey.

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