I often describe myself as a ‘serial entrepreneur’, having started my first company over 20 years ago.
From this deep experience, my take on the traits required for all successful entrepreneurs - regardless of gender?
1. Resilience - Able to pick yourself up on the ‘downs’ of the rollercoaster ride of being an #entrepreneur - Ability to take the positives learnings from the inevitable setbacks - Surround yourself with those who ‘have your back’, develop a strong support network of family and friends
2. Deep knowledge of the target market - Don’t just speak to those you know - research the wider market - The greatest reason for start-up failure is a lack of market need
3. Flexible to change - You can’t be too ‘precious’ about your product or service - Markets change so quickly, entrepreneurs need to be receptive and ready to adapt accordingly
4. Insatiable curiosity - Keep reading, networking and learning to increase knowledge of new trends and developments - and adapt as necessary
5. The art of the ‘Hustle’ - The ability to push yourself to the front of the queue - Be prepared to ‘bend the rules’ - Focus on talking about the positives to get yourself noticed
6. Comfortable with ‘less than perfect’ - MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product - getting the product or service into the market to find out if it ‘works’, to get a reaction, obtain references and testimonials - Being ‘perfect’ takes too long - Market changes are likely to make the ‘perfect’ product out of date before it’s launched
7. Comfortable with risk - Developing disruptive and ‘bleeding edge’ solutions comes with uncertainty - Risk is a necessary part of the process
Many female entrepreneurs find it difficult dealing with 5, 6 & 7, due to cultural expectations and norms Women are frequently brought up to ‘be nice’, and therefore find it difficult to ‘hustle’ and bend the rules.
We often have to walk the tightrope of being competent, delivering a strong vision, whilst remaining likeable. Women often feel the pressure to be perfectly groomed, presenting perfect children, a perfect home and being a perfect partner, and so find it a challenge to launch something that isn’t up to these exacting standards - or ‘perfect’.
Women are generally hard-wired to be more risk-averse than men, due to the nurturing involved in child care. But research shows that this is of real benefit when it comes to managing investment and funding. Female entrepreneurs take fewer risky decisions, are more careful with funds and make the money go further.
Being an entrepreneur is a challenge, and being a female entrepreneur comes with a few extra issues, but find yourself a mentor and learn from others to help you navigate and embrace these traits, and the challenge will be an exciting one.
Which traits have you observed to be more challenging to female founders?