Entrepreneurship is challenging and rewarding, and for women, it comes with its own set of unique obstacles. Despite this, there are countless female entrepreneurs who’ve overcome these challenges and built successful businesses. Aunnie Patton Power, a member of JUMO’s Social and Ethics Committee shares what she’s learnt working with female entrepreneurs and how she’s able to advocate for them and others by being a part of JUMO’s overall mission of inclusivity.
When I started my career in finance over 17 years ago, it wasn’t just about recognising the impact of finance, but also wanting to grow it for those that don’t usually benefit from it. When I moved into impact finance, and working with social entrepreneurs, working with female entrepreneurs became a special interest. It was a natural progression.
I have learnt so many lessons from the female leaders I’ve worked with, and continue to work with, which I’m going to share.
Tips for female entrepreneurs
1. Perseverance and persistence
One of the critical lessons that can be learned from female entrepreneurs is the importance of not giving up. They’ve pushed through to pursue their goals, even in the face of adversity. This perseverance is what has helped them to overcome the obstacles and achieve success.
Many female entrepreneurs have faced discrimination and bias in their industries, but they have not let this discourage them. When I think of perseverance in female entrepreneurship, I am reminded of these biases faced by women. One instance, in particular, was when I worked with a female entrepreneur deep in the AI technology space. I found myself intrigued by her ambition to be in a traditionally male-dominated industry, reminding me of my own bias. The reason that stood out for me is that if I have those knee-jerk biases as an advocate for female entrepreneurship, and I know how damaging they are, then they are still very much present and active, even from those you wouldn’t expect it from.
Many female entrepreneurs have to balance the demands of their business with their personal and family life. This can be difficult, but it is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. A simplified way to start is to remember to set realistic boundaries and prioritise your responsibilities. There are so many female entrepreneurs that have found ways to be successful in their business, while still making time for their loved ones. They have shown that it is possible to have a fulfilling career and personal life at the same time, which inspires people like me. The importance of balance can’t be overstated, and I sometimes wonder if it isn’t the key to success.
3. Innovation and Creativity
Female entrepreneurs consistently demonstrate innovation and creativity. They have to think outside the box in order to succeed and come up with new and unique solutions to problems, to help them stand out from their competition.
There’s a South African female entrepreneur I worked with, who was unemployed and unable to put food on the table during the pandemic. She decided to turn a field across from her home into a little urban farm. She then started teaching people how to farm and from that, launched and built a business that sells seedlings to projects run by corporations with a CSR development focus.
Creativity and innovation helped her to achieve success.
4. Empathy and soft skills
Empathy and soft skills are crucial for entrepreneurs as they help build strong relationships with employees, customers, and partners. Empathy enables entrepreneurs to understand the needs and perspectives of others, leading to better communication and collaboration. Soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, and adaptability are essential to growing a successful business. These skills help entrepreneurs to effectively manage their team, resolve conflicts, and make decisions that benefit everyone involved. Furthermore, having strong soft skills enhances an entrepreneur’s personal brand and helps them to form lasting, meaningful relationships within the business community.
In today’s competitive market, having a combination of both technical skills and soft skills can set an entrepreneur apart and give them a competitive edge in the industry.
Social and ethics at JUMO
JUMO is an organisation that I have followed over the years. When they reached out to me to join their social and ethics committee, they were looking for people to help them stay true to their social mission. One of the things that got me excited about this is working to convince large, important stakeholders of the economic imperative around inclusion and social impact. Making sure we stay true to that mission is the reason I’m part of the committee.
Driving gender equality at all levels is important to JUMO as a company. One of the ways they do this is by benchmarking and tracking progress on the number of women customers we serve and female representation in the company including senior leadership, management and our board.
Female entrepreneurs have overcome obstacles and achieved success in their businesses, despite the challenges they have faced. Their experiences and lessons can inspire and guide anyone, regardless of gender, who is looking to start their own business or achieve success in their career.