10 tips for success from female business owners

Do you have lofty ambitions of starting your own company or ramping up the one you already founded? Here’s some advice from women who’ve done it.

Google the term “tips for women” and guess what you get. That’s right—page upon page of fashion, dating, and weight-loss advice.

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to Zumba off a few pounds or snare your own Peeta Mellark, you probably have loftier ambitions, such as starting your own business or turning the business you’ve already founded into an international success.

Recently, we asked women business owners to give us the inside scoop on their success. If you’re looking to join their ranks, follow the business-savvy tips below.

1. Donate your skills.

“Advertising is expensive,” says professional photographer Catherine Fiehn, “but the easiest way to get good PR is by donating your services a few times a year to a charity.”

At Halloween, Fiehnhas the local kids come in for a low-cost photo, and the proceeds are donated to charity. Because it’s for charity, the newspapers print the notice for free. The result? A ton of new customers, some of whom are stopping in for the very first time.

2. Be grateful.

Sharon Armstrong is an author who owns her own consulting business.

“I’ve had my own business since 2000,” she says. “My best tip for success is to remember to thank those who help you grow your business. Never forget! And thank folks in a personal way, if possible.”

3. Keep moving forward.

Thursday Bram, owner of the consulting firm Hyper Modern Consulting, says:

“Remember that success is always within reach. No matter what happens, there is always a way to work around it, to turn a problem into an opportunity or even to take a deep breath and power through. This isn’t to say that if something isn’t working you should keep banging your head into it, but you can and should always keep moving forward.”

4. Pipe up and promote.

Marketing maven and owner of The Idea Is {In} Jyoti Peswani is all about getting your name out there.

“Don’t be afraid of self-promotion in the social media era,” she says.

If you’re hesitant to toot your own horn, balance it by giving something back to your audience. That, she believes, is a reward in itself.

5. Put your social skills to work.

“Do everything you can to build a sense of community with your customers,” says Janice Costa, founder of Canine Camp Getaway of New York. “That might happen through a joint charitable effort, a Facebook page, a blog or newsletter or simply by involving them in some aspect of your business.”

Contests are another great idea. “Building a community of clients provides value that goes far beyond whatever you are selling,” she says. “It also makes business a lot more fun!”

6. Aim higher.

Jamie Yahne owns Glitzee Glee, an online dinnerware store. She believes that it never hurts to ask a question or to attempt to go after something that you really want.

To gain exposure or build relationships, she says, “You should reach out and try to take any opportunity that presents itself.

“Most of the marketing opportunities I’ve had and the business relationships I’ve built happened when I didn’t think I had a chance but asked for the opportunity anyway.”

7. Set a firm schedule.

Respect your schedule, says Stephanie Di Biase, owner of Ways & Means, Inc., or no one else will.

“If you are too flexible and available, you become a vendor versus a partner with your clients—and you end up working seven days a week,” she explains. “Set a firm schedule where you have some dedicated ‘unavailable’ time. People respect you more when you respect your own boundaries.”

8. Give employees room to grow.

Lily Liu is the founder and CEO of PublicStuff. She believes in creating environments that allow employees to feel that they “own their work.” That way, they become leaders in their field of expertise, and they’re motivated to achieve success every day.

She says: “I strongly believe that truly engaged employees will go above and beyond their duties and produce better work, because they know how important their role is to the company.”

9. Make each conversation count.

April Harter, owner of WordPop Public Relations, believes that every business connection should be meaningful, both online and off.

“If you’re going to take the time to attend networking events or set up a LinkedIn profile,” Harter says, “follow up with those you meet. If you take the extra step to follow up with people, you will establish more meaningful connections.”

10. Join an active business network.

We all “join” business groups, says Julie Legrand, founder and president of Off The Ground, but sometimes it’s more of a token gesture. She believes that when you become an active member “by attending conferences, participating in discussion boards and volunteering for committees, more people will know who you are.”

In her experience, those people will go out of their way to help you.

“Great national women’s groups to get involved in include ‘Make Mine a $Million,’ NAWBO, WLE and WEBENC,” says Legrand.

Do you have some inside knowledge that wasn’t covered here?

Alayna Frankenberry is a staff writer for The Content Factory, where this story first appeared. She lives and works in a steel-era row house in Pittsburgh which she shares with a mischievous black cat named Betty. blog.


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