Despite the fact that the world of entrepreneurship has been largely male dominated throughout history, the tide seems to finally have shifted, and over the last 20 years or so, women have been starting businesses at a higher rate than men.
Crystal Culbertson and Lisa Hufford may not be household names like Mary Kay Ash and Oprah Winfrey, but they both founded companies that made more than 10 million in revenue in 2010 and have experienced enormous growth in the last three years. How much growth? Try over 3,700% for Hufford’s consulting company, and more than 16,000% for Culbertson’s IT firm.
Even more incredible are the huge number of women under 30 starting successful businesses, like 15-year-old (!) Maddie Bradshaw, whose M3 Girl Designs earns $1.6 million annually. In fact, a recent Forbes article stated that women entrepreneurs will create over half of the 9.72 million small business jobs that are expected to appear by 2018.
So what is it that today’s female entrepreneurs are doing differently? The truth is that women bring a fresh perspective to the table that encourages a team atmosphere. Here are just a few of the reasons why women are becoming increasingly successful in the world of start-ups and small business.
Women tend to have stronger communication skills
Good communication is vital to the success of any business, and women, in general, have an easier time communicating with others than men do. Several studies have found that they are better at judging the meaning of nonverbal communication least (Hall, 2006; McClure, 2000), and a new study from the University of Montreal department of Psychology found that women are more likely to verbalize than act out their anger. This ability to better read their employees and more effectively handle conflict may keep employees more productive than they would be in other workplaces.
Collaboration is fostered better
One recent study from the journal Science found that the collective intelligence of a group rises when there are more women in the mix. The group members did a better job at perceiving each other’s emotions, demonstrating greater “social sensitivity.” This made it easier for members to take turns, listen to other opinions, and apply their skills to the task at hand – which in a business environment translates to better teamwork and overall results for the company.
Women may be more willing to seek outside expertise
We’ve all heard the stereotype about the man who won’t ask for directions when he’s lost, but it turns out that there’s more truth to it than you might expect. On average, men drive an extra 276 miles annually because they’re lost, compared to only 256 miles extra driven by women, according to a study by Sheila’s Wheels, a British car insurance agency. Over a quarter of men wait at least 30 minutes before stopping for directions, and 12% won’t ask for help at all!
Although it’s always hard to ask for help – no matter what gender you are – women may be more likely to seek assistance when they need it in the workplace as well, which can result in issues being resolved more quickly and also enables them to better utilize the expertise at their disposal.
Understanding the need for a flexible schedule
One of the main reasons why some women are choosing to start their own businesses is that they want to find a balance between their free time and their time spent at work. If they have families or a busy social life, they want to ensure these things are not pushed out by their work – and they may also be more willing to accommodate these same needs for their employees.
Why is that a good thing? According to research by the Corporate Executive Board, employees who are happy with their work-life benefits work 21% harder and are 33% more likely to stick with the company.
Women have better social skills.
Networking is an important aspect of any business, and some women may be better equipped for it. In tests for emotional intelligence, women tend to score better when it comes to self-awareness, managing emotions, empathy, and within social skills.
The higher scores for empathy can also help with leadership. Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., author of Emotional Intelligence, notes on Psychology Today that, “This kind of empathy fosters rapport and chemistry. People who excel in emotional empathy make good counselors, teachers, and group leaders because of this ability to sense in the moment how others are reacting.
The point of this post is to highlight the differences between men and women as communicators and as entrepreneurs, both male and female, begin to collaborate more, the change is sure to be a positive one.
About the Author:
Patrick Del Rosario is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s pioneer and leading providers of accounting courses and bookkeeping courses. When not working, Patrick enjoys blogging, travelling, and photography. You can find him on Google+.