As an owner of two businesses, I am an advocate of ambitious women. Having faced knockbacks and experienced rejection first-hand on my journey to success, I believe it is crucial to maintain momentum and keep the end goal in sight.
Here are my top tips and expert advice for succeeding as a female in the competitive business world.
1. Have a clear vision
All successful businesses begin with a clear vision. Both of my brands were inspired by real life experiences which I transferred into business plans. It does not matter where you get your ideas from – just ensure they are original and well thought through.
2. Set objectives and goals
It is crucial that you think clearly about what you want to achieve from your business in order to get the desired outcome. When I first developed my Destination board games, I knew exactly where I wanted them stocked, how many units I would need to sell to make a profit and in line with this, I set myself targets. Why not allocate time every month to go through your short term goals so you stay focussed and keep your objectives in sight.
3. Believe in your brand
A business idea is only as good as you make it and if you don’t have a genuine passion for your brand, it is unlikely other people will. I came up with She Who Dares after overcoming personal struggles in my own life, having faced bankruptcy and a nervous breakdown. When I was awarded my MBE in 2009, this honour gave me the boost I needed and spurred me on to create a business I truly believed in. I wanted to establish a brand to celebrate inspiring women and reflect something I feel strongly about - so this is exactly what I did.
4. Network, network, network
In order to optimise your business you need to have a great source of relevant connections in your network. Make sure you regularly attend business events to make yourself visible and use them as an opportunity to build your reputation and contact book. Having industry experts on side is also a great opportunity to seek out advice; whether that be in terms of your business or how to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
5. Develop a business persona
Developing a professional persona that fits in with your brand is crucial. As the face of your empire you will be dealing with investors, suppliers, customers and potentially employees so you will need to ensure you have the business personality to compliment your business. I am a strong believer in confidence, enthusiasm and transparency - if you work hard enough on developing the persona, it will become second nature. The Rachel at home with her family is very different from Rachel the businesswoman.
6. Establish an online presence
Being tech savvy is now more important than ever. One of the first things people do when they hear about a new product or brand is look it up on the internet, so building a professional looking website is key. Creating social media channels for your brand is equally as important. Twitter and Facebook provide the perfect platforms for promotion whilst allowing brands to bring their products to life and engage with consumers.
7. Don’t fear failure
Setting up a new business undoubtedly has risks, but a bit of self-belief goes a long way. I famously got rejected by the Dragon’s Den panel when pitching my Destination board game idea but this rejection served to motivate me even further and it later became a best seller in Hamleys! Everyone will face knock backs in their career, but if you know you have a good idea don’t let it go.
8. Learn to say no
It can be easy to get overwhelmed when your business is in its infancy stage. You are so keen to see your idea progress that you don’t give yourself downtime and take on more than is humanly possible. As obvious as it may seem - no is an extremely powerful word and in the long term, making impulsive decisions and being a ‘yes’ person is certainly not the most sensible approach.
9. Common sense and logic
In the workplace, the most relevant skill continues to be logic and common sense. Whether related to budgeting or branding – don’t underestimate your own business acumen.
10. Use your home life as inspiration
Managing the needs of a household including children, school obligations, mealtimes and multiple schedules can definitely translate to running a business. I always tell budding female entrepreneurs to channel their multi-tasking skills and ability to manage family life into their new business ventures.