Women know a lot about giving support. They support friends, families, partners, colleagues, children. But when women start their own businesses, for myriad reasons, support can be conspicuously absent.
The number of female founders in Australia looks likely to continue to rise and to ensure they succeed, they need help.
Time and time again I have seen the transformative power of a little support. A little bit can make a huge difference, and ultimately can empower more women to start their own ventures and overcome the challenges that they face.
No matter who you are, here are six ways that you can support a female entrepreneur.
Everybody needs to be cheered on sometimes. Starting a business can feel lonely and isolating, it can make an entrepreneur question her choices, especially when everyone else in her group of friends are enjoying a night out while she is still madly wearing five hats trying to get her start-up off the ground.
Something as simple as sharing what she’s doing to your network can make all the difference. Is what they’re doing something small like selling juice at a farmer’s market? Show up and buy it. Is it something bigger in scale, but you know someone who would benefit from the service? Spruik her to them.
This goes double if it’s something you really believe in. If you really think what they’re doing is worthwhile, then share it around the same way you would a stranger’s work. Again, this might seem small – like clicking ‘share’ on Facebook – but those little things will help get the word out.
Open the door
Do you have someone in your network who would be a good connection for them to have? Perhaps they offer a service that she needs, or they have been on an entrepreneurial journey before and might be happy to have a coffee with her?
Consider offering to make an introduction. Opening up your network can be an invaluable way to accelerate an individual’s start-up journey.
Offer your help
This might seem simple, but you’d be surprised how often it seems to slip people’s minds to ask, “How can I help?” That small question could help hugely. You might be able to do something for her that, to you, seems small and insignificant, but to her might mean the world. And it gives her the most important thing in anyone’s life: some extra time.
Even if she doesn’t ask for anything let her know she is supported, and that you’re in her corner.
Everyone needs to recharge
There is never a time in your own business where you can switch off. Whether you’re at the very beginning getting ready to launch, managing a small team or preparing for investment, you tend to burn the candle at both ends. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Send her a note, a gift, anything to remind her to take a second and breathe. Take her out to dinner, invite her to yoga, get her some new hand cream. Remind her often to recharge her batteries.
We all need a friend to talk to from time to time. As she goes down this road of entrepreneurship, she is going to need someone to talk to, to listen to her, to be there when she needs to vent, go for a walk or have a glass of wine with her. Be that person.
Entrepreneurs might seem brave and bold in deciding to act on their ideas and leave their mark. But there is plenty of self doubt too. Every entrepreneur is going to question their ideas and investment. Having someone who listens is invaluable because talking through how you’re feeling can help lessen the load and sometimes even solve a challenge.
Send positive vibes
It might sound like I’m repeating myself, but being supportive means showing her the positives, when she can’t see them. Tell her what you see her doing, the impact it will have and how proud you are of her for doing it. Telling her what you see in her, giving her some much-needed positivity about herself, will help her view herself in a new light and reignite her confidence.