Virginia Slims cigarettes got it right 40 years ago when it targeted women with its memorable slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” The same is true today for women entrepreneurs.
We’re going full throttle in starting businesses at a never-before-seen speed: from 1997 to 2011, women-owned businesses increased 50%, which was 1.5x the national average.
Now, I don’t want to get into a battle of the sexes discussion here, but you have to admit: there are certain characteristics of females that make them amazing at running small businesses.
# 1. We’re Great Communicators
Obviously this is a blanket statement, and I’m not saying men aren’t good at communicating. But the fact that 74% of women use social media — compared to 62% of men — speaks volumes about their interest and ability to communicate effectively.
In running a business, clear communication is key. Whether it’s how you portray your company culture or how you interact with clients and vendors, your success lies in how well you relate with others.
# 2. Sometimes That ‘Softer Touch’ is More Effective
As a society, we have polarized business personas into being masculine or feminine (masculine: more assertive; feminine: more sensitive), but the truth is: everyone needs a balance of the two. Depending on who you’re interacting with, though, that aggressive approach so commonly assigned to men might get you nowhere. Intuition, concern, and empathy might be a better path to connecting with people as a business owner.
# 3. We’re Good Listeners
Part of the success of a business owner lies in her ability to truly hear people. Not assume she understood what someone said, but to truly pay attention to what they’re trying to say. Sometimes it’s not what people say, but what they don’t say that’s the true message. Women who have dealt with small children who insist they don’t need to use the bathroom, but insistently pull on their pants get those unspoken messages loud and clear!
# 4. We’re Relationship-Builders
The foundation of any business is solid relationships: with employees, with clients, and with suppliers or business partners. Women naturally look at others and try to relate. Maybe you’ve met another woman in a business meeting and immediately started talking shoes, kids, or shopping. That’s how you build a relationship. And to men, it might seem like useless female chatter, but we know the truth: we’re laying foundation for future success down the road.
# 5. We’re Collaborators
Sure, many of us are super competitive. But that doesn’t exclude us from also being collaborators. We recognize that working together, we can glean even better results than we would on our own. Just think about women in the “olden days” who worked in a quilting bee together. Sewing a single quilt on your own would take weeks, but with the aid of your closest friends, the work is complete in no time!
# 6. We’re Masters at Juggling
Need to finish a business proposal in the next hour while simultaneously checking your email, answering your phone, and reading a blog post? No problem! Try getting four kids out the door for school on time, helping your husband find his keys, and making sure your shoes match. Women thrive in a chaotic environment, and aren’t afraid to handle multiple tasks at the same time.
Women, if you’ve been holding yourself back from starting a business because you didn’t feel you were well-suited for it, this is your wake-up call. You were born for it, girl, so get started!
Editor’s note: This was originally written by Nellie Akalp for Tweak Your Biz.