How women owned businesses can improve growth
The number of women owned businesses is on the rise, pay between women and men is slowly equalizing, and in general, the business world has shifted away from the men know best attitude of the Mad Men era. What is most exciting is that most men are extremely supportive of female leadership, and male bosses are paying women better, but challenges remain for women, particularly self-imposed challenges.
Nell Merlino is the founder of Take Our Daughters To Work Day and current CEO of the acclaimed non-profit Count Me In, which helps women businesses nationwide, and she offers the following five tips for women business owners to grow their business and overcome challenges, in her own words below:
1. Know your financials and have solid financial goals
This is something many women tend to avoid. If you’re going to grow your business sustainably, you need to understand how your business is spending money. Know where every dollar goes, right down to the last decimal point. You need to fully know where you’re going and what you need to achieve in each quarter. It’s important to understand profit
2. Learn how to be a CEO
This is one of the biggest transitions women we work with need to overcome. Just because it’s your company does not mean you have to do everything yourself. In order to grow your company you need to be out there selling it. It’s called working on your business, instead of in your business.
Your role as CEO is knowing how to hire the right people to help you make money. To start, write down the things you don’t like to do, don’t know how to do, and where you just aren’t skilled. Be honest! For these things it’s perfectly OK — and more efficient — to have someone else handle them.
Then, think about what other areas of your business need to be addressed? What are the skill sets they require? Is it an assistant to deal with the manufacturer when you have a big order? Or a salesperson or a sales force if that’s the least favorite part of your work? What about a bookkeeper to take charge of getting your invoices out on time?
3. Trust your gut and don’t underestimate your own wisdom
How many times have you said, “I knew this was a bad idea,” after you’ve done something? Women have been taught not to trust themselves, that others know what’s best for us. This can put our self-esteem down near the ground. The fact is, if you don’t have confidence and respect for yourself and your judgment, you’re less likely to listen to your heart and gut. And, as a business owner, you can miss out on a lot of good opportunities as a result of this.
Pay attention to your inner voice. If you find yourself hesitating because something doesn’t feel right, step back and listen.
Also, don’t assume others are smarter than you. Just because someone is a lawyer—or other licensed professional you might hire—doesn’t mean they are smarter than you. They may know the law, but they don’t know your business. You are the expert in that department! Professional expertise can be valuable in growing your business, but trust what you know as the business owner.
4. Get Involved
There are lots of great resources and communities out there that provide opportunities to connect with other women small business owners in person. These groups provide important places to be heard, to share ideas, and find encouragement and support. Count Me In offers lots of resources like the upcoming Business Accelerators in Los Angeles, Detroit and Charlotte, NC, as well as free webinars and a Meet Up Groups in 12 cities across the country.
Also consider attending at least one conference per quarter. And no—they don’t have to break your bank. Think of it as an investment. If carefully chosen and carefully planned, you can earn the money back in terms of vital new contacts, new ideas and keeping up with your industry.
5. Don’t Fear Failure
In facing challenges, I find it helpful to ask myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Once I face that possibility and the consequences that go with it, some of that fear subsides because I know I can handle it. Being in business isn’t all about wins, it’s about learning from your failures in order to move forward.
This podcast explains the schemes behind MLMs & the dangers they pose
(ENTREPRENEUR) The Dream podcast provides another valuable way to understand the pervasive nature of MLMs, from their history and tactics to their legality.
Okay, if you haven’t been a part of an MLM scheme or known someone in an MLM who has had things go horribly wrong, it can be hard to understand why they are so pervasive and so dangerous. If you don’t know what an MLMs are, check out our introduction here, but if you’re ready to learn more, consider checking out The Dream, a podcast by Little Everywhere and Stitcher.
The Dream podcast is a great way to gain insight into the world of MLMs. Narrated by Jane Marie, this podcast uses a blend of research, interviews and personal experiences – one team member actually joins an MLM – to give an in depth view on how they operate. You’ll learn about why people join and stay in MLMs, ways they screw over their customers and the history behind MLMs.
This podcast manages to tackle difficult topics without dehumanizing the people victimized by the system. One reason is likely due to the fact Marie grew up surrounded by individuals who had been sucked into MLMs, including family members, and she discusses their plights with compassion.
That said, the sweetness of sympathy in each episode is cut with legitimate research from academic authorities. From the history of MLM mentalities to the legal battles waged around these pyramid schemes masquerading as businesses, listeners will gain a logical, as well as emotional, understanding of how these schemes operate.
Each episode ranges from 30 – 60 minutes, perfect for listening during a commute.
Need a second opinion before taking the plunge? Here’s what others have had to say about The Dream.
Alice Florence Orr of The Podcast Review notes: “The podcast zooms in and out, encompassing both the deeply personal and shockingly political.”
Shannon Plaus of Slate adds that: “This relatability is exactly what makes the show so excellent. Rather than perching from a place of financial guru explaining to people why MLMs are so bad, it willingly positions itself as closer to the victim of such a scheme.”
The first season is eleven episodes, with an additional four “bonus” episodes, opening with a discussion about pyramid schemes before diving into the more sinister world of MLMs. The Dream has also recently started its second season, this time with a focus on the “wellness” industry.
If you want to learn more about MLMs, you could do a lot worse than the well-researched, deeply personal perspective of The Dream. Check it out today wherever you get your podcasts.
Check your risk for burnout with this FREE scientific quiz
(ENTREPRENEUR) This new tool lets you take a free self-assessed, science-based burnout test to give you an idea of how much self-care you need.
Concerns of keeping self-care and mental health in a positive spot – specifically in relation to burnout – have been a hot topic of discussion. While COVID-19 exacerbated these concerns and stress levels, the issue of burnout has been around for quite some time.
Work burnout is often discussed in terms of work-life balance. Simple ways to avoid that crash are enforcing a hard stop on reading or responding to emails at a certain time of evening, or to continuously clean your workspace. Easier said than done, but it is critical.
But sometimes you have to look at the nitty-gritty. Sometimes you have to ask difficult questions about your job and your personality in order to understand how burnout is impacting you. This can now be done with the Global IT Burnout Index, a free, science-based assessment to tackle your stressors before it’s too late.
This is geared toward people working in tech (as the website reads, “burnout in tech is high and real”), but is useful for any industry.
To begin, you simply start the quiz and answer a few questions about yourself and your job (e.g. “I find it difficult to relax after a day of work” and then you answer based on how strongly you agree or disagree).
There are 10 total questions, and no personal information is asked (no name or email). It is open data, meaning it will help people on the other side better understand burnout; but, it’s totally anonymous.
The quiz takes no longer than 2 minutes. At the end, it will give you a number out of 6 measuring your burnout rate. The higher the number, the more likely you are to experience burnout.
Burnout has the ability to manifest physically and mentally, and can take a toll on your body and mind. Knowing if you’re experiencing high amounts of activity that can lead to burnout can help you know if you need to take precautions to change things in your life or job.
For those of us working from home, the situation is a Catch-22. You aren’t currently forced into a stressful commute. But it’s harder to pull yourself away when 5pm (or whatever your end time is) rolls around.
For people in the office or on-site, it’s the same thing. You get to socialize (safely, obvi) with your coworkers, but there are those on-site pressures.
No situation is perfect, but understanding if you’re in a situation where you could use a change or some help is incredibly important – especially these days.
Scammers are out to prey on MLM victims and small businesses
(ENTREPRENEUR) MLM pyramid schemes are already predatory enough, but for victims trying to get out of the cycle, scammers are waiting on the sidelines.
Predatory, scam, rip-off, shady, trap… all of these may be words that rightfully come to mind when I mention pyramid schemes, multi-level marketing campaigns, or “MLM.”
It probably conjures images of annoying messages from the one gullible high school friend you haven’t quite had the heart to unfriend on Facebook. Perhaps you know someone who got put through the wringer themselves. The one thing victims of these predatory marketing schemes have in common is being in the hole of a lot of money. Usually money the victims can’t afford, since these scams prey on the economically vulnerable. Truly, there are few things more universally detestable than MLM pyramid schemes… but I found one.
Did you know there is an entire secondary scammer market to recycle victims of MLMs?
A new spin on the idea of ambulance chasers, there is an entire demographic of scammers out there that trawl social media such as Facebook and Reddit to find recently victimized people looking for a way out of the pyramid-shaped hole they’ve found themselves in, offer services to these victims to “assist” them in recovering lost investments or liquidating their almost valueless inventory, and then ghosting the victims – taking them for their non-existent money a second time. They often pose as legal representation or consumer relief of one flavor or another.
Here is an example posted on the subreddit r/antiMLM:
That website doesn’t exist. That is not a real law firm. The premise is a scam looking to make a sucker twice out of the same victim. One commenter using the user name ‘lemontest’ shared the following account:
After my relative got scammed by a company that promised to help her set up a drop-shipping business, another business magically appeared that promised to get her money back. She gave them money and never heard from them again. I’m sure there’s a lot of money to be made selling contact lists of people who fall for get rich quick schemes.
How incredibly filthy toxic is that? Be vigilant out there, the scammers are creative.
If you (asking for a friend of course) or anyone else you know has fallen victim to any online scam, I recommend this light-hearted, and a little bit cheeky, recovery guide found on the Federal Trade Commission website and authored by Jon M. Taylor, MBA, Ph.D. of the Consumer Awareness Institute.
Any stories to share about MLMs or other comments? I’d love to hear from you.
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