Women Entrepreneurs: The Top 3 Barriers to Financial Freedom

March 4, 2011
Terri Maxwell

Women Entrepreneurs: The Top 3 Barriers to Financial Freedom

Why is it that most women-owned firms are still one-person shops? What is it preventing women business owners from aggressively growing their business so that they achieve financial independence?

Let’s start with the truth. According to the Center for Women Owned Businesses, there are 10.4 million women-owned businesses that employ nearly 12.8 million people and generate $1.9 trillion in sales. That’s astounding.

This means, however, that most women-owned firms are still one-person shops—the numbers break down to about 1.2 employees PER business. Why is that? Most economists say that women start “lifestyle businesses” so therefore they are not interested in growth. Is that true?  I don’t think so!

So, what is it preventing women business owners from aggressively growing their business so that they achieve financial independence?

I asked this question to several investors over the last two years. The response: “Most women just don’t know how to compete.”

My response: “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Their answer did nothing but fuel my desire to find the real truth. Fox Business News thinks “Women ROCK as business owners” and cited these points in a 2010 article:

  1. Women owned firms contribute $3 trillion annually to the U.S. economy (revenue generated plus investment expenses to grow their business). They also account for 16% of ALL jobs.
  2. Women owned firms are projected to create 5 – 5½ million NEW jobs by 2018. For the record, that’s more than half of the TOTAL new small-business jobs that will be created and about one-third of the TOTAL new jobs anticipated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This includes jobs in Corporate America.
  3. The Fox Business News article states that characteristics such as being customer-focused, community-focused and being servant leaders translates into women who excel in running a business, keeping employees engaged and building a loyal customer base.

The article didn’t mention that “we don’t know how to compete.” Just for the record.

So, if we “rock” at business ownership…why does it feel as if we’re just getting by?

As an Incubator with a passion for incubating and launching million-dollar businesses in a growth platform of 2-4 years, I needed some answers. For me to be successful as an Incubator, I must ensure the business can and does grow to $1 million in revenue as quickly as possible.

So…I asked. Starting in 2009, I interviewed over 100 women business owners whose business fell short of their expectations. I quickly realized that these were not “lifestyle businesses” as many economists would have you believe. These women were working on average 60 hours per week trying to grow their business.

Next, I ruled out the “women don’t know how to compete argument” because what I found is that if anything, women are too competitive – which actually gets in their way.

But I did find three simple, yet growth-stifling mistakes. When you put them together, they explain why there are so many women-run firms who remain small and miss the $1M annual revenue mark.

Three mistakes many women entrepreneurs make

We focus on DOING rather than “GETTING it done”

Most women feel as if we have to do it all ourselves, and so consequently, we do. Yet, to reach financial freedom it requires us to give up control and find ways to get the work done through others. Regardless of how well they do it.

Financial freedom requires giving up control and hiring others to get things done, regardless of how well they do it.

So, if your business is still a micro-enterprise (that means like a 1-person business)…it’s time to change your focus from “Doing” to “Getting it Done”. The first thing to outsource?

Accounting. That’s right. In our Business Incubation program, the business owners must turn over the accounting function to our Group Controller because it is the LEAST value-added activity in the entire enterprise. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep track of your money, but it shouldn’t be something YOU do. It’s just not value added.

My grandfather, who, if you read my book (Succeed on Purpose – Everything Happens for a Reason), was the primary source of knowledge and inspiration for most of my young life, said this: “To make money, you can’t sit around and count money.”

We focus on TASKS rather than business PRIORITIES

There are hundreds of tasks required to run a business. How many truly add value? Not many. 

There are only three priorities you need to focus on the get reach $1M in revenue.

The THREE priorities to focus on in order to achieve $1M in revenue are:

  1. Drive new business revenue.
  2. Grow the revenue you currently have. (This is much more than customer satisfaction: Think ORGANIC Growth.)
  3. Drive organizational efficiency. (Do it smarter.)

We focus on what’s NOT working rather than what IS working!

This is the biggest mistake of all. Think about it. Look at your To Do list. How many things on that list are areas that aren’t working? How many times have you lamented the challenges? Conversely, do you have a ready-made list of what IS working? Probably not. 

Shift your focus DAILY to what IS working and you’ll see an immediate shift in your business success.

At Succeed On Purpose, we have a model called: R³OCK™ Your Business. It stands for: Re-position, Re-focus and Re-energize.

  • Re-position: Focus on getting it done, NOT doing it.
  • Re-focus: Focus on PRIORITIES rather than tasks.
  • Re-energize: Focus your time and energy on what IS working; and your energy will improve…and what isn’t working will resolve itself.

Want financial freedom? Develop a strategy to grow your business to $1M in annual sales. 

Need help with that? Stay tuned…we’ll be announcing a really cool Venuspreneur™ Million Dollar Makeover soon. Get ready to R³OCK™ your business!

With the soulfulness of Wayne Dyer and the entrepreneurial spirit of Richard Branson, Terri is a world-class business growth expert, social impact investor, and serial entrepreneur whose purpose is to inspire potential. With her own money, Terri built a portfolio of purposeful companies, Share On Purpose, Inc., and now invests in and creates mission-driven start-ups.

In a career that spans more than 25 years, Terri has launched, owned, sold, rebranded or turned around more than 40 companies. She is known for her game-changing business models and personal transformation frameworks.

Everything she built came directly from a wellspring of perseverance and soulful resiliency, which she openly shares through her first purposeful brand, Succeed On Purpose.

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