While a great many of the business headlines, industry statistics, and mission statements concerning women in business highlight the gains made and those yet to be made, many female entrepreneurs have been at the forefront of their respective sectors for years. From taking charge of corporations to finding success from a start-up, you don’t need to look far to find inspiration or even a template to follow.
In Canada alone, there’s a veritable army of successful female entrepreneurs. Tonia Jahshan, Susan Niczowski, Stephanie Ciccarelli, and Cassandra Nordell make up a handful of Canada’s leading businesswomen. Now, however, there’s a lot more impetus on promoting female entrepreneurs.
Still, in case you’re on the fence about going out on your own as an entrepreneur, or perhaps need some inspiration to keep on going, we’ve got loads of stats, tips, and quotes from leading female entrepreneurs from Canada to inspire you.
Some stats on the state of female entrepreneurship
A big challenge for female entrepreneurs has proven to be funding. As detailed in this breakdown of businesses owned by women, a mere 12 percent of venture capital firms have women in decision-making roles. This stat is used to explain why only 2.3 percent of global venture capital funds went to female-led start-ups in 2020. Even if those numbers doubled, they’re still extremely low.
Over in the UK, women leading micro-businesses are on the rise. Micro-businesses – which feature ten or fewer employees – run by women have climbed to nearly 40 percent, up from the 2020 figure of just over 30 percent. Furthermore, research into female entrepreneurship in the UK found that up to £60 billion (CA$91 billion) could be added to the nation’s economy simply by boosting female entrepreneurs.
To the south, US statistics found significant growth in the number of female entrepreneurs between January 2020 and December 2021. The demographic grew by nearly 50 percent year-over-year. Of that group, 25 to 34-year-old women made up the bulk, but there was also significant growth in the age group just below. In Canada, the opposite can be seen, with the over one million self-employed women of 2019 sinking to just over 982,000 by 2021.
Words from the wise
In an interview with entrepreneur Erin Goodnow, the co-founder and CEO of a college admissions company, said that she went into running her own business to fill a void that her paid career at the time couldn’t. In her role, Goodnow found that she couldn’t use or develop her skills. Instead, even though it is tough work, she now has that freedom afforded by being her own boss and the creative force of the business.
For Shahrzad Rafati, being the CEO of her own digital media and technology company has allowed her to blaze a new path that contradicts a lot of common rhetoric of the general business environment. Key to this has been her stance on ethical decisions being good for businesses. This not only relates to eliminating the pay gap between the sexes but also getting diverse voices involved. More diversity means more opinions
Of course, getting off the ground is the most trying element of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Regardless of what you do, if you don’t find rapid success, you’ll likely encounter your fair share of naysayers. For Tonia Jahshan, finding success came down to working as hard as possible, never listening to those who say you can’t, and celebrating all of your small and big achievements.
Even with the right attitude and a superior product, service, business model, or idea, starting a business can be tricky. This is especially true if you’re looking to primarily at e-commerce. Luckily, there are plenty of examples to draw from to help get you off the ground or grow a larger customer base.
Utilizing the rule of reciprocity
The rule of reciprocity speaks to an ingrained sense of needing to reciprocate a kindness or exchange shown to you. It has been key to the process of socialization throughout history. As a business, you can easily leverage the rule of reciprocity through some seasoned and popular methods, such as by giving products or services to customers at no charge.
This can come in many forms, even offering shrewd, helpful, and informative articles on your website can prove to be the added value that converts browsers into customers. Of course, the best-known method of utilizing the rule of reciprocity is through free samples. Particularly when blended with the launch of a more experimental offering, free samples are still incredibly good at increasing brand awareness and perception, while also increasing the likelihood of the sampler buying products in the future.
If you are purely based online without physical products for people to sample, you can offer discounts for first-time account holders or give value in the form of credits before a purchase is made. This is the kind of approach taken with the no deposit bonus found at many online casinos in Canada. These businesses have bucked the trend of offering bonuses after deposits, standing out among their peers as a result. As no deposit bonuses are truly free giveaways of spins or funds for gaming, the offer has tangible value to the customer.
Leveraging social media correctly
Some think that a social media presence can only be enhanced by pumping out post after post to keep in the feeds of followers, but for the most part, customers on social media don’t like that. In fact, some studies show that one of the main reasons for unfollowing a brand is because of the presence of too many promotional posts and messages. You need to be strategic, and above all else, engaging.
Responding to comments and messages is the obvious first step to becoming more engaging, but as you build a larger following, you can go further. Add calls to action at the bottom of posts to encourage feedback, put up images and quotes that you’ve received from customers, and even pose challenges to your followers. It also never hurts to drop in the odd limited-time offer or promotion to draw back to the sales side.
Analysis, analysis, analysis
Any successful entrepreneur who knows the start-up space will have a clear understanding that data and statistical analysis are always your friends. Stats and data should be your guide, showing you without the hindrance of opinion or bias exactly what works and what doesn’t. This can be applied to sales as well as website traffic analysis. With the right software, you can home in on views, visits, unique visits, average time-on-page, bounce rates, and conversion rates. All of this can help to tweak your platform and guide follow-up marketing.
Female entrepreneurs are rightfully on the rise. Hopefully, the above will help you to reach your business aspirations and add to Canada’s contingent of women-led businesses.