A few months ago, I read a report from the Centre for Entrepreneurs called ‘Shattering Stereotypes: Women in Entrepreneurship’ – it was a really interesting read and it got me thinking. The report stated that women need a different level of service to men when in business. I’m not waving my feminist wand here but we need to realise that our women entrepreneurs may need different enablement techniques to our male entrepreneurs – and that’s ok.
I spoke to the CEO of Entrepreneurial Spark about this and she kindly put me forward for the NatWest Everywoman Accreditation Programme – a programme designed to produce best in class, knowledgeable and confident Relationship Managers who understand female entrepreneurs and are able to apply business expertise and tangible support to help them achieve their ambitions. We covered modules looking at the global landscape for women in business and gender intelligence (a favourite of mine). I wanted to share some of my key learnings and hope that you can find ways to apply them in whatever work you do to help entrepreneurs, whether male or female.
- 75% of unpaid care work (children and the elderly) is carried out by women globally. For those of our female entrepreneurs who want to work more on their business rather than be the primary care giver can we explore the possibility of care options with them? What is available for entrepreneurs when it comes to caregiving?
- A lack of finance knowledge is holding our female entrepreneurs back – they need more help on the basics and more education on what types of finance are available to them. Females naturally don’t take as many risks, it’s ingrained in us, so we won’t automatically look at investment. How can we support them with this?
- The left part of the brain is associated with logic and the right-side creativity and emotion. Males, biologically, skew towards left and females right – I’m not painting everyone with that brush but it’s what research tells us. The two sides are connected but in women the connecting piece is wider – it means women connect a social situation to a logical situation much quicker then men – we can’t expect men to do this when they aren’t biologically designed to do this. In sales, this is really important because if a woman is talking to a woman they naturally pick up on social instances that may affect the sale e.g. I can’t buy this product because I’m tight on cash as I have recently gone through a divorce. Most men wouldn’t naturally pick up on the divorce element which may seem rude to females and the male will probably lose the sale. It’s important that we help both our female and male entrepreneurs with simple tips like this. If you want to sell to a female, then build a relationship first. Females are scientifically more loyal – it might take more time but it’s worth it to gain a loyal customer.
- Women make 7x more referrals than men e.g. they tell 7 more people about what they heard. Some people may think this sounds like gossip… but it sounds like free marketing to me. Again, it’s simple – build a great relationship with a female and you could have increase your word of mouth referrals.
- Women look for the perfect product and consider every purchase. Men don’t. This is why a woman will look around the whole shopping centre to find the perfect item but men will go to one store and essentially adapt what they need so they can get out quickly. Where has this come from? Back in the day men would sit in a bush and wait for an animal to arrive and then pounce. Women would be together in a community, they may go out and get a few nuts and seeds from lots of different places, but their aim wasn’t to bring back the bacon…that was the man’s responsibility. Times are changing but we need to adapt to this. When supporting female entrepreneurs is this something we consider? Do we need to emphasise that getting something out to the market that isn’t perfect is ok, it’s all about testing, getting feedback and then adapting?
Like I said, I don’t want to sound too preachy. However, there is something in this and I’m certainly going to read more about it. One of NatWest’s core values is “to serve customers in a better way” – I certainly want to do this with my customers, the entrepreneurs, whether male or female. #GoDo