It’s no secret that women comprise the fastest growing cohort of start-up entrepreneurs. Why? Well, there’s lots of reasons but let’s start with two of the obvious:
The first is that the 9-5 routine is not working for women. The traditional workplace with its 9-5pm (or more likely 8-6pm) structure doesn’t suit a lot of women, especially those with small children, so working online from home at a time convenient to them is always going to be an attractive option.
The second is that women control the purse strings. Women are generally the shoppers for their family so they’re in tune with what problems or unmet needs other women have. This gives them a direct insight into what potential businesses could work and provides the launch pad for targeted products and services that have been the solution to age-old problems.
There’s a slew of Aussie ladies turning ordinary ideas into extraordinary online businesses.
Here’s 5 secrets behind the success of some our most famous female entrepreneurs.
1. They know their market
Michelle Bridges knew that women couldn’t always access a personal trainer so she created an online training programme that acted as a virtual trainer. She also knew that successful weight loss starts with buying the right food so she added the meal-planning module to her online programme, a masterstroke that demonstrated her true understanding of her market’s wants and needs. It’s no surprise she’s now worth more than $53 million!
2. They have passion for their product
Aged in her 70s, Stephanie Alexander could have been forgiven if she wanted to retire, take a seniors cruise on the Danube and spend her Fridays playing bridge. But no, she had a passion to share her recipes with a new generation of cooks so she built an app to do it. By her own admission she had, “no idea how to do it” but that didn’t stop her either. The app has more than 2000 recipes on it and it’s a massive hit. When I interviewed Stephanie for my book, my final question to her was: Do you ever get sick of cooking? Her answer? “No. Never”. A clear indication she is still a force to be reckoned with and why if you find a passion for what you do you’ll never work another day in your life.
3. They focus on a niche
When Jodie Fox, co-founder of Shoes of Prey, struggled to find shoes to fit her hard-to-fit feet, she decided to do something about it. So she designed her own, from the ground up. When her girlfriends wanted what she had she knew she was onto something so she built a business out of creating bespoke shoes for those with problem feet. Her secret to success was identifying a niche, serving it well and delivering it with style.
4. They offer a point of difference
When Daniel Flynn, co-founder of Thank You Water saw a young boy die from drinking tainted water from a well in Africa, he knew he had to do something. So with his wife, Justine they built Thank you Water into one of Australia’s most successful social enterprise stories. With no management experience, marketing budget or distribution expertise, they always knew it was going to be hard. But what they had working in their favour was the need to make a difference – so they offered a point of difference by directing all the profits to developing nations to help them access safe, clean water. Water with a conscience. It worked and they’ve since expanded into food and skincare too.
5. They make work a fun place to be
Office politics and blokey cultures can put women off pursuing the top jobs, which is why online gift-giving juggernaut Red Balloon founder Naomi Simson was adamant that her workplace was going to be about smiles and fun. Nominated for the Most Attractive Place to Work for 2015, she puts in place strategies that ensure that staff don’t just like going to work, they love it.
As you can see, when it comes to turning ordinary ideas into extraordinary businesses, it’s not so much the idea that counts but the person behind the idea.
Another top five tips:
- Don’t get hung up on technology. If you can’t do it, outsource it.
- Keeping your cards close to your chest limits your success. Talk your idea up, often and loudly.
- Build a prototype as quickly as you can and get feedback on it.
- Learn from your mistakes – failure isn’t failure, it’s feedback.
- Don’t wait for it to be perfect before launching. Done is better than perfect.