Tips for Female Entrepreneurs: How to Help Each Other Succeed
Do entrepreneurship and female friendship go hand in hand?
Raise your hand if you’re a woman who just gets along better with men. This includes in the workplace and among your group of friends. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. However, a few years ago, I learned both the financial and the personal value of collaborating instead of competing with other women.
The Myth About Working With Other Women
As a woman myself, I know that women can sometimes be more sensitive to normal business language, which can come across curt or “cold” due to the impersonal nature of said interactions. It can be a real challenge, but I didn’t want to lose money or miss out on contracts because I couldn’t communicate effectively with my team. So I avoided working with women for a while as I set out building my own business.
I’m not alone. “I’ve always been leery of working with women, to be honest,” says professional writer Chonce Maddox. “Stereotypically, women have been associated with being gossipers or trying to tear each other down.”
However, she actually found success in launching a podcast with several other women.
“We’ve been able to accomplish so much more together as a team,” Maddox says of the experience.
Over the past few years, I’ve had an experience similar to Maddox’s. Today, I actually love working with other women. As long as the women I work with are fellow business owners who share the same personal and business values as I do, I’ve realized that together, we can make a much bigger impact than I ever could on my own.
Tips for Female Entrepreneurs: Practical Ways to Help One Another
1. Mind the Gap
“Women can help other women by sharing data on their pay with each other,” says Sophia Yen, a doctor at Pandia Health, an online subscription birth control service. Getting right down to business, making sure you are being paid what you deserve for the role you perform in your industry is essential, and Glassdoor can only do so much. Network with other women in your field to make sure your compensation adds up.
2. Recommendations and Team-Ups
Know a credible woman in a niche area of expertise who may need exposure? Need help on a project, or in need of direction? Submit a recommendation or reach out for collaborations.
“Women can promote one another through collaboration on projects, and by working on projects, we can recognize one another’s strengths and not have to go at a project all alone,” says Alexandra Tran, a digital marketing strategist for the review service Schimiggy.
“For example, I work with women developers and women UX/UI designers to create and manage websites. As a digital marketer, I recognize that women can work in any field,” she adds.
3. Use Social Media
“Send recommendations to women colleagues, managers, and juniors on LinkedIn, send appreciation notes through emails, or recommend women for spot awards,” says Gargi Rajan, assistant general manager of human resources at Mettl, an assessment platform for human resource professionals.
The hiring process is increasingly reliant on platforms such as LinkedIn as a part of the vetting process, so what better favor could you do for other women than to leave a visible and potentially helpful show of support on social media?
4. Banish Noninclusive Behavior
“The moment you indulge in noninclusive behavior like participating in sexist jokes, not calling out things which are wrong, or judging other women for their choices, you are alienating them,” Rajan says. “You are sending out the signals into the organization that you are not approachable. Be genuine with feedback. Talk about your struggles in reaching where you are today.
“Don’t downplay your true feelings about being overwhelmed or confused when dealing with dual responsibilities,” Rajan continues.
Staying down to earth and authentic will establish you as someone other women feel safe coming to in various workplace situations that may be more comfortably handled with female colleagues than with men.
5. Do Someone a Favor
“The old adage ‘you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar’ is 100 percent applicable when it comes to networking,” says Liza Esquada, founder of Esquada Law. “The act of helping out a colleague in a pinch will not go unnoticed nor will it be forgotten. Altruistic good deeds in business come back in kind when you are the one in need. In short, furthering your career can be accomplished with good old-fashioned relationship building and connecting with other women.”
6. Hire Freelance Help
If you’re looking for talent and want to expand your network to include more women, look at a site like Fiverr. This helps, especially if you are looking to collaborate with a specific person of talent.
An Abundance Mindset
I’ve met many female entrepreneurs who have proved to be valuable business partners. This is especially true when it comes to helping me with product launches and referrals, as well as being there for me when I needed someone to talk to.
These women who have been so helpful with my entrepreneurship come with an abundance mindset.
“An abundance mindset means you are open, inclusive, and supportive of other people,” my friend Natalie Bacon, a financial planner, told me. “This mindset leads to big thinking, trust, confidence, and success. You will get back what you give. If you give support and are positive and inclusive, that’s what you’ll get.”
So when you first meet someone you admire or someone who seems like she’d be a great partner in a business endeavor, find out whether or not she has this abundance mindset. You can usually tell depending on how willing she is to give her time and expertise.
You can get a sense of whether or not she is genuine just by having a simple conversation or scheduling a phone call or coffee date. Rule of thumb: Work only with other women who seem genuinely happy that you’re doing well and want to see you succeed.
If you come across a woman who isn’t, don’t worry about it. There are many other female entrepreneurs who enjoy being part of a supportive network. “My greatest successes have come from collaborating with other women,” says Melanie Lockert, author of Dear Debt. That’s a significant realization.
Double the Talents and Abilities
It’s important to talk about women who might be direct competitors to you, though. While it’s easy to refer a wedding hair stylist if you’re a wedding singer, what about recommending another wedding singer?
It might seem natural to avoid working with people who run very similar businesses as you do. That said, in my experience, I’ve found that the opposite is true.
My friend and fellow financial writer Holly Johnson agrees. “Women who work in similar fields would be wise to collaborate, not compete,” she says. “Not only can women draw on each other’s abilities and talents for inspiration, but they can help each other, too.
“As a professional writer, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve received a positive recommendation from someone who should technically be my ‘competition.’ We all benefit when we support one another and hold ourselves to high standards when it comes to teamwork, friendship, and professionalism.”
What Johnson says is true. No photographer can have all the photography jobs in their city. No freelance writer can do every writing job available online. Sometimes a client or an article is simply a better fit for someone else. Making a referral to a fellow female entrepreneur not only helps her — it helps you, too.
So next time you avoid working with other female entrepreneurs — whether you’re worried you won’t get along, or whether you think they’re your competition — think again. Partnering with them and working together to support each other could yield more success for your own business. And by extension, this will lead to more clients and more money in your future.