Female Entrepreneurship – One Size Doesn’t Fit All

female-entrepreneurship

Photo: Flickr

 

A recent study (PDF) by Jennifer Merluzzi, Tulane University, A.B. Freeman School of Business and Ronald S. Burt, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business tried to determine why women choose to be entrepreneurs. They wanted to know what paths women took to get there. They found three:

 

  • Full-time entrepreneurs who remain entrepreneurs after first entry
  • Full-time entrepreneurs who left to be an employee, then returned to full-time entrepreneurship
  • Women who continued in a full-time job as an employee while pursuing their ventures.

They also studied the reasons women gave for pursuing entrepreneurship versus a corporate career, and compared the relative happiness of female entrepreneurs to women who held management positions in corporations.

Why do women become entrepreneurs?

They found that “while exceptions exist, a more common conclusion is that female entrepreneurship has either become the newest way for women to escape workplace discrimination or, that women are largely selecting into an entrepreneurship career path as a way to achieve work-life balance and flexibility.”

Average age and income

They asked female entrepreneurs their ages as well as their income and found: “On average, the women were 34.2 years old when they began their first entrepreneurial activity, and in their best year employed 6.7 full-time people including themselves with a gross income of $322,000. The negligible test statistics show that activities vary as much within, as between, the six business categories. There are within each category women who had dramatically successful ventures of many employees and a large income, and women whose best year was negligible.”

“More often, the ventures involved no more than the entrepreneur (61% “just self”), but these independents varied in gross income during their best year from some losing money, to one woman earning $500,000. Employees are no guarantee of income. Entrepreneurs with employees other than themselves had from two to 600 full-time employees, and earned from $2,000 to $14 million of gross income during their best year.”

Types of businesses

They found that “almost all of the entrepreneurial activities are services. The manufacturing ventures are varied, including a Massachusetts company that produces golf apparel (Avid Diva), a printing business in Ohio (Print All), a vineyard in Virginia (Abingdom Vineyard &Winery), a gourmet pet-food company in Illinois (Thompson’s Pet Pasta), and a confectioner in California (Robin Rose Ice Cream & Chocolate). Variation notwithstanding, rarity is the most conspicuous feature of the manufacturing. Of the 213 involved in entrepreneurship, only eight are in manufacturing.”

“Entrepreneurs came from all industries, but there are concentrations from management consulting, other consulting (especially accounting), and education.”

female-entrepreneur-activities

Does being married, having children, or getting a divorce make a difference in choosing entrepreneurship? Not necessarily, but it can. The study revealed that “Over the course of their lives, entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs are equally likely to be married, have children, get divorced, or re-marry. However, as a woman goes through one of these events, the odds of her becoming an entrepreneur go up.”

What about the trade-offs?

“With respect to trade-offs made for success, senior managers felt that they had given up
personal time, a balanced life, and meaningful relationships. These are all at the bottom of the
list for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial work is inherently personal time and meaningful
relationships are the substance of their work, at the top of the entrepreneur’s list of what it
means to be successful.”

“What bothers entrepreneurs is the stress of their work: entrepreneurial work is fulfilling, but stressful. Entrepreneurs cite happiness and emotional calm as the things they trade for success, which is interesting because they report the highest levels of satisfaction with their work.”

personal-values-entrepreneurship-vs-corporate-managerOne thing is clear. While this studies’ focus was the path women took to entrepreneurship, it also revealed how far women have come since the days when women entrepreneurs had few choices. “Avon® Calling” was just the beginning.

Until later …

Toni

 

 

Tuesday Quick Tip – Navigating Word 2013

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Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net and stockimages

 

 

If you’ve been using Microsoft®  Office Word 2003 for a long time, and recently upgraded to Office Word 2013, you may find yourself befuddled at all the new changes. I certainly was. Navigating the new menus was a challenge.

One thing I found helpful was this little chart in the Word 2013 Quick Start Guide. The one below is an overview of where to find different commands. The entire guide has lots more tips. You can read the guide online, or download it as a PDF.

word2013-navigationIf you’re a busy entrepreneur or small business executive who doesn’t have time or patience to deal with the learning curve, these guides from Microsoft® are a big help.

Another big help is a virtual assistant who already knows Word 2013 and can do the navigating for you.  Think of the time and frustration you’ll save!

Until later …

Toni

What Is The Best Time and Day to Post to Social Media?

social-media

Image by Stuart Miles

For those who use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to spread the word about your products and services, this is key information to know. We all want to reach the widest audience possible, since what good is it to post if nobody sees it?

In 2009, when I first introduced my business on Twitter, the social media gurus at the time said weekdays were the best and weekends were the worst. Sunday was considered a dead zone.

Has that changed? Maybe, maybe not. The article A Scientific Guide to Posting Tweets, Facebook Posts, Emails, and Blog Posts at the Best Time contains informative charts and graphs, and links to in-depth information. Studies found:

  • On Facebook, engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Another study found that engagement was 32% higher on weekends, so the end of the week is definitely a good rough guide to start experimenting with.
  • On Twitter, engagement for brands is 17% higher on weekends, according to one study.
  • This same study showed that retweets have been shown to be highest around 5pm and the best time for click-throughs seems to be around noon and 6pm.
  • Twitter’s own study found that users are 181% more likely to be on Twitter during their commute which means there are a lot of people tweeting on their mobile devices instead of a desktop.

When it comes to Blogs, studies found:

  • 70% of users say they read blogs in the morning.
  • More men read blogs at night than women.
  • Mondays are the highest traffic days for an average blog.
  • 11am is usually the highest traffic hour for an average blog.
  • Comments are usually highest on Saturdays and around 9am on most days.
  • Blogs that post more than once per day have a higher chance of inbound links and more unique views.

Some reports I’ve read say the best time to post your blog link to Twitter is around 2 PM. The article states:

Dan Zarrella has some more great stats on this topic, but he makes a good point about the pros and cons of the timing you choose. One thing Dan suggests we consider is that if we post during time of higher traffic, we’re more likely to have higher bounce rates and get lost amongst the noise of other content being published. On the other hand, posting at times when fewer people are online will garner less traffic and engagement, but give our posts more prominence and less competition against other content.

Email still is the best way to reach your audience, and this article has good info about the best times to send email. Do check it out.

Because not all experts agree, you have to assess your specific audience, target time zones, consider your content, and go with your gut on this.  That’s why it’s important to track your results: Facebook likes and shares, Twitter retweets, favorites and new followers, website stats, etc.

As a solopreneur or tiny business, which social media outlet are you getting the best results from? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Until later …

Toni

 

 

Need an Extra Hour? I’ll Give You One!

hour

Let Go and Grow!

I keep seeing comments on the Internet about entrepreneurs and solopreneurs who are hesitant to try a virtual assistant. I don’t blame them. When you work hard to build a business, it’s difficult to hand over a door key, even a virtual one, to someone you don’t know.

According to this blog post, (go ahead and read it … I’ll wait), the main three reasons for not contracting with a virtual assistant are:

  1. They feared their Virtual Assistant wouldn’t understand their client’s needs
  2. They felt since their Virtual Assistant didn’t have a vested interest in their business they wouldn’t treat their client’s as they were themselves; and
  3. They feared that there was too much for the Virtual Assistant to learn and it was faster to just do it themselves.

Before making the decision to provide administrative support from my home office, I worked for many years in brick-and-mortar offices, for companies large and small. Some key truths I learned over the years are:

1. Every business is unique, and it takes a little time to fully understand the needs of each person I worked for. Communication is the key to coming to this understanding quickly.

2. My philosophy was and still is: If I make YOU and your company look good, I look good, and that makes both of us feel good.

3. There is a learning curve in all new jobs, just as there is a learning curve when you get a new smartphone or upgrade the operating system on your laptop. Again, it takes a little time and good communication. Time and good communication are important whether your assistant is working from home or sitting right next to you in the office.

4. Once you and your assistant get more comfortable with one another, you will see how a virtual assistant truly is a part of your team of trusted associates.

To help you “test the waters,” I’m offering a “Let Go and Grow” special. It gives you an opportunity to work with a seasoned professional at a great price and get one hour FREE.

Just click on this link and fill out the form to get started: Let Go and Grow.

Until later …

Toni

 

Thursday Thoughts: Serendipity

connect

” Image by Salvatore Vuono

I want to tell you about a REALLY special person I met through a phone call. Anyone who looks at my picture can tell I’m no “Spring Chicken,” so when I say I think someone is REALLY special, it comes from my long experience of meeting and interacting with people — lots of people.

A few days ago, I received an email from someone who saw this post on LinkedIn and wanted to talk about it.  So I called him.

Being an introvert, I’m not the best at phone conversations with people I’ve never met, but this gentleman instantly put me at ease with his friendly, easy-going manner. We chatted about our shared philosophy of helping others, a little about ourselves and about our businesses , and agreed to exchange some information. Sounds pretty cut and dried, doesn’t it? But in that brief conversation, he conveyed such wisdom, business acumen, and genuine kindness and concern that by the time we said “goodbye,” I knew I had just met a REALLY special human being.

I want to share his company with you because I believe it’s a good thing for anyone who wants to broaden their horizons and grow their business. Liked LinkedIn, it’s a place to make contacts, but unlike LinkedIn, it’s more personal. It’s called The Expert Directory.

theexpertdirectory.comI hope you will explore the site. You may not be interested in it now, but perhaps you know someone who would be. I receive no compensation for telling you about it. I just know the man behind it wants you to succeed. I believe he would like to see every one of us succeed. Truly. He’s that kind of person.

His name? Bill Doerr. You can look him up on LinkedIn. Great guy. Here’s what three of his many LinkedIn recommendations have to say:

“Bill is one of those rare people who loves to help others by making mutually beneficial connections. He does it with generosity and professionalism. No one I’ve met does it better.”

“He is one of those rare human beings dedicated to making a contribution to the success all who come in contact with him.”

“Superlatives are the only descriptors possible for Bill Doerr. He is stellar in every single aspect. As a colleague he could not be more intelligent, wise or giving. As a mentor, he is unparalleled. As a friend his deep kindness, compassion and soul is unrivaled. Business is business and there is absolutely no doubt he is a master in so many arenas. Ultimately, it all comes down to basic humanity. Bill is a well rounded human and that is the heart of business. Anyone can spout numbers, facts and tactics. Bill does it with soul and a cheerful, wise nature. He loves his work and it shows.”

One definition of “serendipity” is “the act of finding something valuable or delightful when you are not looking for it.” That’s what I found when I called Bill Doerr. Our conversation not only lifted my spirits that day, but also made me get more excited about my business and make some changes for the better. I hope you get to meet him some day, too.

Until later …

Toni

Necessity. Invention. Hipwhaties?

wednesday-women-awardHipknoties®  – that’s “hipwhaties!”  I mean, what’s a woman going to do when she’s going away for a three-week trip where she has to dress for all kinds of situations, from casual to evening dress, and all she has is one carry-on?

The old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention” has been attributed to Aesop and Plato. I doubt Sarah Yonover was thinking of either of those guys when she was faced with the above packing dilemma, but she certainly put the saying into practice, in a creative and, well, HIP, way!

Starting with an infinity scarf, she invented a multitude of ways to turn a length of fabric into myriad styles of garments. It was such a hit with people, Sarah returned home to start her own company, Hipknoties®.

Watch the magic here, and you’ll understand why Sarah Yonover is our Wednesday Woman this week!

Have you ever had a unique idea but never followed through with it, then later learned someone else had turned “your” idea into a successful product? Let me know in the comments.

Until later …

Toni

Giving is Key to Getting

giving_key-to_getting

via Wikimedia Commons

‘It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.‘ … Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the past few days, I’ve had “bloggers block.” While I could think of a plethora of informative topics, nothing jumped out and said “write about me.” It’s been quite frustrating.

Then it occurred to me that the entire time I’ve been unable to write to you, I’ve been preoccupied with things that pertain only to me — a new business idea that excites me; a petty, but annoying, physical ailment; a social obligation. As I was sitting here looking at my blank screen, the thought hit me.

“Giving is the key to getting.” It’s certainly not a unique epiphany. People have been saying and practicing it for years. Great sales and marketing people like Zig Ziglar and Og Mandino made it a mantra. But I had for the moment forgotten it.

Once this thought struck me, I opened a browser, typed those words into the search box, and began to read.

There was an article in the New York Times about a year ago about Adam M. Grant, who is the youngest tenured professor and single highest-rated teacher at The Wharton School, and author of the book and website “Give and Take.”   The article says “The greatest untapped source of motivation, he [Grant] argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.”

In my community, there are not many big businesses, but a lot of small ones. Many, no matter how small, seem to find ways to give back to the community. In return, the community supports them and they grow, or at least remain stable. It’s reassuring to see how it all works for the greater good.

If you’re bogged down with worry about your small business or stuff in your personal life, perhaps reading the article will help provide motivation to get outside yourself and do something to help others. We all have so much to share, and the satisfaction that comes with knowing you’ve helped someone else is well worth even a small amount of your time.

Until later …

Toni

Save Time and Money with Google Apps – Learn more here.

 

Meet and Eat? Boring. Meet and Treat Your Feet!

Pedicure

The entrepreneur mind knows no bounds. When Ruth Shelling, founder of Rue Sinclair Media in New York, wants to meet to talk business with women, she doesn’t just invite them to lunch. She arranges brainstorming sessions at a nail salon, where women enjoy getting their feet pampered while they network. According to Entrepreneur.com, these sessions have helped her close multi-million dollar deals.

Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I think this is a great idea! I can see this being done by all kinds of women’s groups, not just businesswomen.

Nail salon owners could add value to their businesses by partnering with a deli to offer private “Eat and Treat Your Feet” sessions for women on their lunch hour. Think this is a viable idea? Let me know in the comments.

Ruth Shelling, you get my Wednesday Woman Award this week!

Until next time …

Toni

Save Money and Time with Google Apps

google-apps

Google Apps

Do you use Google Apps?  They are really great for team collaboration. I think you’d also benefit from trying it out for your business.

What is Google Apps?

Google Apps is a cloud-based productivity suite that includes Gmail for professional email, Drive for online storage, Hangouts for video meetings, Calendar for scheduling and Docs for editing files. I especially like how easy it is to get things done and work with others from anywhere, using any device I choose. Google Apps is cost-effective, too.

Millions of organizations around the world count on Google Apps for professional email, file storage, video meetings, online calendars, document editing and more.

Watch a video or find out more here.

Here are some highlights:

Business email for your domain

Looking professional matters, and that means communicating as you@yourcompany.com. Gmail’s simple, powerful features help you build your brand while getting more done.

Access from any location or device

Check email, share files, edit documents, hold video meetings and more whether you’re at work, at home or in transit. You can pick up where you left off from a computer, tablet or phone.

Enterprise-level management tools

Robust admin settings give you total command over users, devices, security and more. Your data always belongs to you, and it goes with you if you switch solutions.

For a FREE trial, click here.

p.s. I have a special $10 off coupon I can give you if you decide to sign up. Let me know: toni(at)tonimcnulty(dot)com.

Until later …

Toni

Disclosure: If you make a purchase using the links in this post, I will receive a small commission.

 

How to Vet a Virtual Assistant Candidate

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U.S. Navy photo on Flickr

For a small business, especially a home-based business, there are many advantages to using the services of a virtual assistant. If you’re not familiar with them, go here. However, many people are hesitant to hire someone they have never met in person, much less trust them with confidential information. It’s a perfectly normal, understandable fear. Let’s explore some ways to mitigate the trust issues.

1. Before you start your search for a V.A., make a detailed list of the tasks you want performed. Write it down so you don’t forget anything when you prepare your job listing or interview. This way you will know exactly what you’re looking for as you review V.A. profiles, résumés or websites. Pay attention to the skill-sets the candidates offer.

2. Do your interviews by telephone or Skype. You will learn a lot about the person by hearing their voice, and have the reassurance you’re dealing with a real human being.

3. Ask a lot of questions, and let them ask you questions. Good communication is absolutely essential in a virtual work relationship, so establishing this connection early on is vital. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • How long have you worked as a Virtual Assistant?
  • What’s your background and experience?
  • What software programs do you like to use and are good at?
  • What tasks do you dislike the most? (Example: If you need someone to make or receive a lot of calls, and the person doesn’t like talking on the phone a lot, move to the next candidate.)
  • How do you track time you spend on client work?
  • What is your preferred communication method?
  • How quickly do you usually respond to emails during your working hours?
  • What security measures do you have in place to protect client documents?
  • Are you available during the hours I need you to be, and in my time zone?
  • You have a deadline when your computer suddenly crashed. What would you do?

4. Ask for references, and check them.

5. If you’re still nervous about giving out passwords or credit card information that the assistant would need to perform the work, perhaps you could set up a trial period where the V.A. did other types of work for you to develop a working relationship and trust. If that works out, and you still can’t let go of sensitive information, a virtual assistant probably isn’t the best choice for you.

6. Remember that no virtual assistant can do everything, but an experienced V.A. usually networks enough with other V.A.s to help you find someone who can tackle a job s(he) isn’t experienced enough to do. Since you only pay for the time a V.A. is working, it still can be cost effective to have more than one V.A.

7. There are virtual assistant staffing agencies that screen, and sometimes train, V.A.s.  The keywords “virtual assistant staffing” in a web search will bring up a big list of them.

Once you find a virtual assistant with the skills, work ethic and personality you’re looking for, everything will click, and the trust issues will disappear.

Until next time …

Toni