Evolving your business
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Evolving your business: Key tips for female entrepreneurs

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Re-invention, re-framing failure and re-addressing your approach to risk could help your business stand out from the crowd and blossom into an exciting phase of growth.

In business, women often have an armoury of strengths at their disposal. From high levels of emotional intelligence to heightened empathy and a practical ability to get things done, there are many ways in which female-run businesses can tap into these multi-faceted skillsets.

But growing your organisation in a world still dominated by male entrepreneurs can be daunting, regardless of the strength of your business plan or the courage of your convictions.

The fundamentals of failure

For women taking the plunge in business, one of the key ways of achieving growth lies in reframing how you see failure. There is an intrinsic value in things not going to plan.

Remember that your business is a work in progress, and persuing perfection can – and is likely to – sap time and energy best used elsewhere. Instead, apply your company and personal values to each stage of growth and you will ensure that you’re stepping up to the challenge and growing with impeccability, as opposed to perfection.

Pitch un-perfect

Fear of failure – often heightened by society’s expectations of women and the way many women may have been raised – can have particularly negative consequences when it comes to pitching.

According to HSBC’s She’s the Business report, 60% of female entrepreneurs go into pitches feeling confident, compared with 66% of their male counterparts. This is despite the fact that women consult entrepreneurial peers and the wider business community to the same extent as men do – and undertake similar levels of research in preparation.

Women running their own businesses, particularly those pitching for the first time, often may feel daunted by the prospect of seeking capital and can find the whole experience intimidating. This lack of confidence can be picked up by investors, and can be interpreted as a lack of confidence in either your business plan – or even your ability to run a successful business.

“Confidence has to be there,” says Norma Chu, Founder of DayDayCook. “You can’t present your idea to another person without having enough confidence in it yourself.”

Championing female champions

One way to build your confidence ahead of pitching – or at any stage of business – is by making connections with other women who have navigated a similar journey, and made it to the other side.

Victoria Peppiatt, Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of marketing technology company Phrasee, says that the support of other female entrepreneurs can be invaluable when growing your organisation, particularly at the beginning of your journey when you’re likely to be taking on many of the responsibilities yourself.

“It’s a case of enabling, championing and giving women the strength and support needed, so they know they can do it,” she says. “And to also understand that at times, it will be really tough –especially if you’re doing it on your own.”

The importance of re-invention

Identifying a gap in the market and developing the products or services to fill it is a key step in building a successful, scalable business, but ensuring that business stays relevant in a fast-changing world is vital for securing its future.

Whether it’s expanding your offering, demonstrating to investors that your business plan takes predicted market changes into account, or showing adaptability in your short- and long-term strategy, enabling your business to evolve can lead to big – and unexpected— wins.

Re-framing risk

As your business grows, you will find yourself having to make an increasing number of decisions involving risk. Making new hires, delegating responsibilities and expanding operations can all bring new anxieties, and developing a thorough understanding of your own risk tolerance is important for establishing the best rate and direction of change.

Calculating your risk tolerance as early as possible can help provide clarity in the decision-making process, and bring objectivity to situations where planning for growth might mean factoring in the possibility of a short-term loss.

Spend to scale

Women in business seem to underestimate their business projections in a way that’s not as prevalent among their male counterparts. Rosaline Chow Koo, Founder and CEO of CXA – an AI-powered health and wellness ecosystem – discovered this first-hand after an investment pitch of her own.

“After my pitch, one investor said that when men pitch, the investors divide their estimates by ten,” she says. “When women pitch, they multiply them by ten. Women are typically better founders, but they always underestimate themselves.”

This tendency to downplay their business’ potential can seep into women’s willingness to spend money in order to help their companies grow, but knowing when and where to spend is an essential part of building a business with a healthy future.

Top tips for scaling up

  1. Avoid chasing perfection. Instead, focus on applying your company and personal values to your growth strategy in order to build a business that’s authentic and resilient.
  2. To start a business, you must have confidence in your offering. Hold onto this as your business grows – it will inspire greater confidence among potential investors.
  3. Investors want to know that you’re one step ahead, so be sure to factor potential change into your strategy and show a willingness to be adaptable should the market change.
  4. Understand your risk tolerance, and get comfortable with taking considered risks where necessary in order to grow.
  5. Don’t be afraid to spend. Women are naturally more cautious around spending, but knowing when and where to invest is vital for taking your business to the next level.

If you’re looking for the tools, connections and support to pursue your growth goals and to find out more about how HSBC is supporting female entrepreneurs, please visit this page.

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