The Sustainable Development Goals place women’s economic advancement as necessary, using it as a point for the achievement of goal 5 – gender equality. Some of the targets of goal 5 are to make sure women fully participate and can equally access leadership levels. It also aims to give women full rights to equal economic resources and to own land, property, financial services, inheritance, and natural resources.
Female entrepreneurs often face obstacles when it comes to growing and scaling their businesses. For one, societal attitudes remain a stumbling block when trying to grow a startup. Men are still the majority at the helm of affairs, and it can be quite tricky to access everything you need as one of the only few women in the room. Data from Briter Intelligence shows that only 3% of African female owned startups were funded in 2013 – 2021 compared to 76% of African male owned startups that were funded. For equal opportunities and representation, women need to have certain skills at their fingertips as they power up their businesses.
These skills are:
- Communication skills – The ability to pass clear and succinct information on every moving part of your business cannot be overstated. Whether it’s pricing, pitching, fundraising, or writing a business plan, communicating effectively is a big part of its success. Many times, what stops women entrepreneurs from getting grants, funds, or winning a contract is the inability to communicate about themselves and their business. This also plays into marketing, which is a very big way to drive sales and bring in extra revenue.
Making and breaking deals is going to be a big part of running your business. This means you would need negotiation skills to make profitable deals with all forms of stakeholders, from traders to managers and investors. Equipping yourself with the right communication skills will help you effectively capture success in these deals.
- Financial literacy: Financial literacy skills are necessary for you to write efficient and well-rounded business plans. Registrations, tax exemptions, and balance sheets may seem very abstract to your small business but they are a very important aspect of running your show. When starting a business, there are some misconceptions that you need a large amount of money to start well and stay afloat. This is not entirely true. If you are able to manage the finances of your business in line with national laws, you would be better at making decisions which would lead to confidence in your skills and eventually a better business.
Cash flow is a big part of your business, and you will need financial literacy skills to effectively manage it. It can get easy to depend on a steady cash flow outcome without intentionally managing that outcome.
- Prioritization & Delegation: When your business is really important to you, sometimes you may find it hard to outsource certain tasks to experts. This is valid as you may feel that only you know exactly what you need. However, it’s more efficient for your business to get experts to execute that part of your business. This is even more necessary when you are trying to scale up. You will need to designate titles, roles, and tasks to an efficient team so that you can concentrate on running other aspects of your business and playing a supervisory role.
This is where identification of you and your team’s key strengths and weaknesses comes into play. When you know where everyone’s strengths (including yours) lie, it will be easier to delegate tasks that can translate into an all round success story for your business.
- Networking: Networking as an important skill is often overlooked sometimes. Many times, we focus only on our work to try and make our businesses more profitable but no man is an island. You will need people to go far. As a female entrepreneur, you should be intentional about the kind of people you form a business network with. It is important at this point to find people who share the same goals/aspirations as you and to find a way you can collaborate with them. It is also advisable to form a strong connection with a businesswoman network. They would provide the mentoring, skills, and advice you may need in running a successful female-owned business.
To find and grow a network, you can start by researching events that are centered around your business niches such as panels, symposiums, exhibitions, seminars, conferences, training, and hackathons. It is through these events that you meet people who are in the same industry as you are and form connections with them.
The Briter Intelligence report also shows that female entrepreneurs exude less confidence in their startup growth and in pitching. Having these skills is not a one stop solution to the systemic issues but it can help boost your confidence, and provide you with the necessary techniques to hold your own in the rooms you enter.