The rise of women in business is incredible these days! Women owned 36% of all businesses according to the 2012 US Census, this was a jump of 30% over 2007. And the increase in female owned businesses from 2012 to 2016 is reported to have seen an additional 45% growth.
You go girls!
With the increased accessibility of technology comes ease of creating, sharing and selling products and services online. Sites like Etsy, ArtFire and even Amazon's Handmade Marketplace have made it easy for hobbyists to get out there and create income. Women are disproportionately benefiting from these platforms and the flexibility they offer.
With the ever popular emergence of the “side hustle economy”, and more and more women getting in the game, I am betting that many of you can think of a female friend or family member that has recently started a business.
But, did you know that female entrepreneurs start businesses with 50% less capital than male entrepreneurs, according to research commissioned by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). And women still are paid less than their male counterparts, earning .79 cents for every dollar a man makes. Yikes!
That means there's a growing population of women starting businesses, often with less money, time or resources than men. If you want to support your soul sisters out there, now is the time and I have a few simple things you can do that will make a big impact.
1. Buy. Use. Refer.
It’s simple...become their customer or client! Does your friend sell hand painted signs on Etsy, buy one. Does she make custom cakes, order one for your kids next birthday. Did she open her own spa, go get a massage. (Yes please!) Whatever your friend is up to, become a customer or client and refer others to do the same.
Now, I am not suggesting you visit your friends business every day or buy every product they offer. Sometimes it may not be appropriate to use the services they provide, you may not be their ideal client or you may not be in need of what your friend’s business is offering. That’s ok! You may be able to refer other people to their business or when the time comes and you do need what they offer, you’ll know exactly where to go!
2. Like. Share. Post.
If you’re not interested or able to be your friend’s client or customer there are other ways you can support. One of them is through social media. Liking, sharing or posting about your friends business is a huge gesture in this digital age. Every business uses social media to build their platform and gain trust with potential clients. You can help speed up this process simply by interacting with your friend’s business wherever they are.
Read their blog posts, check out their website, follow them on social media and most importantly like, comment, share and re-post whatever resonates with you and as often as possible.
3. Be like glue and stick people together.
Having an understanding of what your friend’s business is all about will help you be a master connector. As you meet ideal clients or customers for your friend’s business it will be natural for you to suggest that they connect.
Remember, that the purpose of recommending that two people connect should be mutually beneficial. It feels amazing to be able to refer someone to your friend when you know it will genuinely benefit that person, as well as your friend. This is the magic of networking!
But wait...there’s something in this for you too! When you’re a person that actively builds your networking skills through connecting others, you remain top of mind for those people that you have introduced to one another. In turn, they will think of you as someone to recommend or connect to the right people when the opportunity arises. That’s what I call a win-win!
4. Ask what you can do.
It’s not easy starting or running your own business, even a side business takes up a ton of time and energy! If you really want to support your friend in her new venture try asking her how you can help.
You might be surprised at the simple answer you get back.
I remember taking some of my friends up on their offer to help by asking them to look over my website and give me feedback before I launched it. They were happy to do that! I got so many wonderful suggestions from them. Typos that they caught, suggestions on style, color or design, even some revisions of my writing. I was thrilled! I took many of their ideas and I credit their feedback to making the site even better.
Ask your friend how you can help and if what they suggest is manageable for you then do it! They will appreciate that gesture more than you can imagine :)
5. Give honest feedback or just be a Cheerleader.
This can be tricky, but true friends want to know your opinion (usually!). If your gal pal asks you for your input, then share it lovingly. You probably know her better than most and that’s why she is coming to you for the feedback in the first place. Your insights might be just what she needs to improve her products, services, business space or website.
If your friend has not asked for your opinion then you get the best job of all, Cheerleader! Be there to support, say nice things and encourage your friend as she navigates the crazy world of entrepreneurship.
You can do it!
Don’t give up!
You’ve got this!
No matter how you choose to show up for your friend I am sure she’ll appreciate it. And a special shout out to my friends and family that continue to show up and support me every day :)
Thanks for reading!