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Entrepreneurship is the new Friday; but, as glossy as it may sound, it's not for everyone.
Seventy percent of start-ups fail before getting to their third year and it isn't because they don’t know their stuff or because the product/service they offer is outdated. Instead, it’s because of the personality of the start-ups team members.
People tell the story. According to research by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the number of female entrepreneurs in 2016 increased by 13% compared to male entrepreneurs who only grew by 5%. This is a good indication that women business owners are doing something extra to weather the entrepreneurial storm.
Resilience is grit. That feeling of perseverance and passion for something you believe in. As an entrepreneur, not everyone in your ‘team’ will have the same vision for your business. That is why your dedication to its fruition is what will sell. You must be resilient enough to push for what you want and block both ears to anything that might jeopardize your grit.
Resilience is also earned through constantly learning from your bucket of mistakes and quickly churning them into opportunities. Similarly, it’s critical for resiliency that leaders focus on what is working, not on their setbacks or on people who do not add value to the long-term plan. That only serves to demotivate you. Filtering good advice from the rest is part of the job as an entrepreneur.
Successful female entrepreneurs have mastered the art of leveraging partnerships. Through networking, you can shorten the journey to success by asking for help and opportunities that will enable you to scale faster. The ideal situation would be to use the time you have to focus on growing your business while delegating other tasks to a partner.
For instance, many female entrepreneurs get paralysed by the fact that they do not have capital to start their business. Today, it is believed that lack of capital is an excuse, not a reality. There is a wide web of venture and angel investors ready to support female-led businesses through financing and capacity-building, such as DreamBuilder guided by Thunderbird for Good, Bootstraps or She Leads Africa, among many other investing firms.
The trick: Network, network, network!
It takes a lot of calculated risks and discipline to achieve progress as a female entrepreneur. A good way to calculate risk is researching what others have done before and leveraging real outcomes.
While many might tell you to go with your gut, it’s important to look at what other successful female entrepreneurs have done and emulate their success or learn from their mistakes.
Sometimes you really don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
In a recent interview with Forbes magazine, the new CEO of Avon, Shery McCoy, acknowledged that one of her greatest challenges was keeping people focused on what matters. You must be disciplined enough to focus on value-adding strategies/tasks to grow your business, rather than becoming distracted by competitors or going down the rabbit hole of "what-if"s.
Before investing into a business, many investors look at financial, market and product risks because these are things that they can help the entrepreneur fix. However, the personality of the entrepreneur and her team is what determines whether they will buy into your story or not.
About the author: Annie Wambita '18, from Kenya, is a Master of Global Management candidate at Thunderbird. She is passionate about brand/product management, entrepreneurship, data insights and community investments. When she's not traveling and connecting with people around the globe, you can find her at the park where she enjoys doing her creative writing.