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10 ways to define and achieve success

March 7, 2012

Ruth Bastedo, program consultant, Next Steps Program for Experienced Women Entrepreneurs, Initiative for Women in Business, Rotman School of Management

For some, success is a malleable, ever-moving target. But for others, it’s steady and fixed. As a two-time entrepreneur in digital communications, and advocate for women in the entrepreneurial space, I have found that for women, success changes with the evolution of life and business goals. Women also juggle a lot and tend to have career paths that differ from their male counterpoints.

“Women are more than three times as likely than men to choose to become entrepreneurs for work-life balance,” says Dr. Beatrix Dart, Associate Dean, Executive Degree Programs and Executive Director, Initiative for Women in Business at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. “The primary motivations for men are typically the prospect of independence and the earning potential. Women are more risk-averse, which leads to less desire to grow the business by seeking sufficient financial support and to consider export opportunities.”

The silver-lining? Women entrepreneurs know how to run their business for profitability. According to a January 2012 TD Economics report, “Average net profit before tax of female-owned businesses was 89% of male-owned businesses in 2007, a difference that is not statistically significant, and is an improvement from being only 52% of male profits in 2000.” They’re also also starting to pick up the pace at which they seek to grow. In fact, the percentage of female-owned businesses intending to expand increased over the previous period and was higher than the percentage of male-owned businesses (44 per cent versus 38 per cent), according to the report.

How are they tackling the growth challenge? Here are 10 great strategies for defining and achieving success on the new playing field, written by the women entrepreneurs of Rotman “Next Steps” program.

1. Find a few good networks

Anita Agrawal, COO, Best Bargains Jewellery

Join professional networks in your industry and outside of it. I can’t stress how important this is. By joining professional networks in your own industry you gain credibility, have access to a wealth of knowledge and also have many opportunities for advancement. We’ve been members of our professional industry organizations for over 22 years (such as the American Gem Trade Association and the Canadian Jewellers Association). However, we’ve only recently learned that there are many opportunities for women-owned businesses outside of our standard industry networks.

By joining general women’s business networks (such as WEConnect, women entrepreneur classes at Rotman or CAWEE), you can expand your traditional client base, learn about incentives for women owned businesses, small finance opportunities and also learn about business practices that could apply to your industry that you might not have thought of before. Most importantly, by joining women’s business organizations we’ve learned that you create a network of support and gain insight from other women business owners who have had similar challenges or experiences as you.

2. Be optimistic!

Brooke Hunter, president and founder, HUNTERS International Insurance

The number one piece of advice I could give any entrepreneur (or anyone!) is to be optimistic. It’s amazing how much easier it is to tackle a challenge with the vision of a positive outcome. It also allows us to bounce back from failure so much faster and move onto the next opportunity – and clients like dealing with optimists.

Ironically, my job as an insurance broker is placing insurance against the downside. So when it comes to my company’s mission statement, we make it a point to express our upside. We exist “to preserve our clients’ prosperity, enterprise, and opportunity.” Now, just so we don’t look at the world though rose-coloured glasses, clients let you know with their feet whether or not you are successful.

I repeat the above mantra regularly so I always remember who is in fact paying the bills. My colleagues are interesting, sharp, optimistic people who understand these fundamentals and my advice is to hire accordingly.

3. Hire great staff and get out of the way

Julie Mitchell, principal, Parcel Design

This is Parcel’s ninth year in business. In the agency world, the average client relationship is two years. We work with more than a handful of clients that have been with us since the beginning. I’m extremely proud of that track record, but my phone doesn’t ring much anymore. Clients are calling, but it’s no longer me they want to talk to.

Read original post here.

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