It’s no secret that we need more women in entrepreneurial and executive roles in the tech industry. As of 2015, just 25% of upper level management and executive positions at S&P 500 companies were held by women, and the largest tech companies in the United States are nowhere near gender parity. The entrepreneurial scene is looking a bit more promising. In just over a decade, entrepreneurship by women has grown more than 30%, and women-founded organizations make up 36% of U.S. businesses.
If you’re ready to start your own business in the tech industry and help get that number closer to 50/50, you’ll need to be prepared for some potential pitfalls. It’s easier to succeed and work through the inevitable challenges of building a business as a woman if you go into it with the right tools and attitude. Here are five essential tips for getting your business off the ground like the boss you are.
1. Don’t be Afraid to Fail
You might hear this a lot, but taking risks and accepting failure as part of the process is key. Women are often socialized as young girls to do everything perfectly, which can lead to a fear of failure later in life. Embracing failure is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but it is essential to make those mistakes, learn from them, and move on to the next mistake — and eventually, success.
2. Find a Mentor and Get Feedback
It’s sometimes a lonely road as an entrepreneur, and it can be scary to take steps in your business with only the guidance of the internet. Find someone who has been there, and see if they’ll be willing to mentor you and give you feedback on your efforts. In the tech industry especially, it can be very helpful to find a female mentor, as she will be able to help you navigate the challenges of working in an industry with gender inequalities.
3. Have an Elevator Pitch
It’s a sad truth that as a women, you’ll sometimes have trouble getting people in the tech industry to take you seriously. Confidence and preparation are key. Creating a killer elevator pitch you can use to present your business in the best possible light (and prevent yourself becoming tongue-tied) should be an early priority. There are lots of great resources available for creating an effective elevator pitch, and you should put some serious time and thought into it before you start breaking it out at networking events.
4. Consider Hiring a Market Analyst
Getting a good sense of your target market is essential for getting a solid start and staying afloat in the early years of business. Entrepreneurs need to invest in their businesses, and sometimes, that means hiring someone with more expertise than yourself. Consider hiring a market analyst to navigate the complex process of market research and set yourself up to be competitive. It’s not a small expense — the median salary for a market analyst is $62,560 — but it will pay off in the long run when you are able to gain the loyalty of your target audience.
Connecting with the right people is one of the most important activities an entrepreneur can engage in. Networking isn’t limited to networking events — everyone you meet could potentially have important connections. Networking may be intimidating for some introverts, but rest assured that it gets easier with practice. You don’t need much to strike up a conversation. Ask a few questions. Really listen. Don’t feel that you have to work too hard to promote your own project. Once you start talking, it will usually come naturally. Before you know it, those connections could lead to something big.
Filed under: Advice