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 both 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. Now, one of the best tips I can give to women entrepreneurs is to work together and support one another.
The Myth About Working With Other Women
As a woman myself, I know that sometimes women can 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, Maddox 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’. Today, I actually love working with other women. As long as the women I work with are fellow entrepreneurs 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 Women Entrepreneurs: Practical Ways to Help One Another
1. Mind the Gap
On average, women make 82 cents for every dollar men make. These numbers are increasingly more stark for Black women who make 68 cents to the dollar, and Latinx women making just 62 cents to the dollar, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Although this will not solve income inequality overnight, there is encouraging data that shows greater employee satisfaction in companies who are transparent about salaries, says a report from PayScale.
“Women can help other women by sharing data on their pay with each other,” says Sophia Yen, M.D., a doctor at online subscription birth control service Pandia Health.
Getting right down to business and making sure you are being paid what you deserve for the role you perform in your industry is essential, and Glassdoor can do only so much. Network with and get tips from fellow female entrepreneurs in your field to make sure your compensation adds up.
2. Recommend Each Other and Team Up
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,” Tran adds.
3. Use Social Media
“Send recommendations to women colleagues, managers, and juniors on LinkedIn, send appreciation notes through emails, or recommend women for 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 Non-Inclusive Behavior
“The moment you indulge in non-inclusive 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 who 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 Esqueda, founder of Esqueda 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, ” Esqueda adds.
6. Hire Freelance Help
About 48 percent of women fall into the lowest income bracket of freelancers, making only $25,000 annually, according to a study by AND.CO. Most of us are aware of the wage gaps in our industries, but the freelance workforce deals with especially shocking problems.
- UpWork is one of the largest networking sites on the web. It provides tools to find new opportunities for work, as well as help you sell projects you’ve already created.
- Toptal brands itself as a company that has acquired the top freelance talent. The network is trusted by the world’s leading brands and isn’t afraid to brag about it.
- AI’s ever-growing industry has reached the freelance world. Crowded builds AI programs that match freelancers with employers based on their level of skills, experience, and price.
- Fiverr is a service that can help businesses find the best available freelance workers with skills that range from video and animation to programming to business and more.
- Task Rabbit links business owners to freelance workers who are willing to do anything from contactless delivery to a wide array of errands for your business.
7. Maintain an Abundance Mindset
I’ve met many women entrepreneurs who have proven 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 need someone to talk to.
The women who have been so helpful with my entrepreneurship are those 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,” Bacon adds. “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 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 she is genuine just by having a simple conversation or scheduling a phone call or coffee date. Pro tip: Work only with other female entrepreneurs 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 women 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.
8. Double the Talents and Abilities
It’s important to talk about women who might be direct competitors to you, though. Though it’s easy to refer someone to a wedding hairstylist 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,” Johnson adds.
What she 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 — but it helps you, too.
The Bottom Line on Women Entrepreneurs
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 one another could yield more success for your own business.
And by extension, this will lead to more clients and more money in your future.