Women Entrepreneurs Understand That It Takes A Village
As the year comes to an end, small businesses owners are working harder than ever - often doing more volume with smaller margins. The consumer - whether B2B or B2C - wants more for less. The business owner - and particularly the woman business owner - must find ways to deliver the goods or service with every bell and whistle with a smile knowing that the compensation is close to break-even for the bottom line.
There is a lot of pent up demand due to almost four years of survival purchasing only. Businesses and consumers have decided to resume their past consumption needs at least through the end of the year. This small uptick in spending has entrepreneurs working harder than ever to deliver without exploding their own bottom line.
Women entrepreneurs understand best how they must show appreciation to those they must depend on to get the job done. Asking vendors to increase a credit line, asking employees to work longer hours with less and asking customers to continue their patronage, women entrepreneurs know it takes a village to be successful in business.
The question on most entrepreneurs' minds is how to appropriately thank those who participate in making their businesses work. In an economic time when money is not an option, traditional bonuses are not possible. Interestingly, studies demonstrate that money is not always what is expected or wanted as a symbol of appreciation. Time and recognition rank higher on the scale for rewards.
Starting with vendors, it is important to show them how you (the entrepreneur) see them as part of your team. All year long, you should be helping them to succeed in their businesses. First, pay vendors on time - early when you can- and let them know why you are doing it. You appreciate what they do for you and will always show your appreciation by treating them with respect.
Let your customers know how important they and their business is to you. Spend extra time with them when you can getting to know them more personally so you can make suggestions about future purchases. Never forget your best customers (20%) provide you with 80% of your business. Without these folks, you don't have a business. These are the people you want to present your best prices to. Make every opportunity to reward them for their patronage.
Finally, your employees are the reason people continue to do business with you. Yes, you pay for their labor, but sharing your great appreciation for what they do when you need them to go above and beyond is even more important. The three gifts most asked for by workers (following cash) are: time (ability to take time off when needed without guilt); respect (being part of the team); and purpose (creating a vision of a greater mission). Every entrepreneur must realize that to earn the devotion of employees requires personal attention. Learn what makes each person tick and let them know how you value their work and their feedback. Your employees are your first line of defense. They know of a problem before you hear it from a customer. Share your vision and passion for the business. Allow them to participate with their suggestions. Respect goes a long way as does providing a reason they do what they do. Lastly, time is one commodity that employers do have an opportunity to gift to their workers. Once the holiday season or business cycle quiets down, a day off with pay is a gift every worker appreciates. But make sure your employees participate in the decision as this time must be their time not yours.
It really does take a village for most businesses to be successful. Women entrepreneurs do best when they admit to being part of a team.