We’re seeing an increased number of women starting their entrepreneurial journey or taking their businesses to the next level. This continuing rise in women-owned businesses, in numbers, size and industry categories, has brought along remarkable economic growth, improved innovation, thriving local economies and motivation for many aspiring women business enterprises.
However, women-owned businesses still remain underrepresented in the economy; their start-ups have lower growth rates and lower survival rate then their men-owned counterparts. And every day brings new examples of how women are being left behind by the world’s response to the pandemic. This clearly proves that despite recent progress, the gap hasn’t been reduced and we need to maximize our efforts to support Canadian women-owned businesses, more than ever.
At WBE Canada, our vision is to see empowered women-owned businesses with equal access within corporate and public procurement. “We need to change the conversation from helping women ‘figure things out’ and doing all of this work inside a vacuum, to helping them really get out there where business deals are made. Women need more opportunities and contracts, and that’s what we’re working to change”, says Silvia Pencak, President, WBE Canada.
Here are some tips for women-owned businesses to achieve greater results while maximizing the resources available at their disposal:
1) Have and communicate a vision – Where do you see your company in 5 years? What values does your company stand for? It is crucial to have a strong and SMART vision for your company and to ensure that everyone on your team, your stakeholders, your community, understands it well. An inspiring vision sends a clear message to everyone looking at your business, inspires your team to achieve greater results and your customers to spend money with your company.
2) Evaluate and improve - Evaluation and improvement go hand in hand. Without evaluation it is impossible to improve and without improvement evaluation is a waste of time. It is important to regularly review changes and evaluate progress, not just once a year. Do your evaluations quarterly, monthly, weekly, even daily if needed. Evaluation prevents you from colossal mistakes, wasted energy, even dead ends. It helps you course correct and adjust as needed. To be a champion you need to be objective, accept feedback and strive for improvement.
3) Build on your strengths - It’s always easier to win when you play to your best strengths. Analyse what your strengths are, embrace them and utilize them for your business. You will be able to get more done and achieve better results. Do what you are good at and delegate the rest.
4) Network and build alliances – Make networking a priority. Attend events and conferences, learn from experts and listen to real stories of other women entrepreneurs. Help or provide guidance whenever you can. To achieve great results, you should also surround yourself with people you can trust. Someone who will give you honest feedback and has complementary strengths. Diversity is strength. A diverse team will always outperform conformity.
5) Make use of supplier diversity programs - Supplier diversity is a commitment from government and large corporate organizations to track and increase their spend with Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) and other diverse suppliers. These organizations allocate resources to ensure that diverse suppliers get access to opportunities within their procurement. Make sure to keep your information updated on supplier diversity trends and best practices. While looking for prospective buyers, do a thorough research on which of these buyers have established supplier diversity programs. A women-owned business will have an advantage and a stronger chance to enter their supply chains.
6) Get certified - Certification moves women-owned businesses beyond networking and training to direct access to conversations with corporate buyers. At WBE Canada, we certify businesses that are 51% or more owned, managed and controlled by women. We call them Certified WBEs. All WBEs are then listed in our database accessible by large corporate and government buyers. To learn more about the benefits of certification, visit https://wbecanada.ca/certification/
7) Attend WBE Canada’s 2020 Annual Conference - WBE Canada’s Annual Conference is the leading event for corporate & government leaders, procurement professionals and women-owned businesses in Canada. If you are a diverse or a women-owned business looking for opportunities to grow your business, this is where you need to be (virtually!). Network and meet with corporate & government leaders and procurement professionals, connect with potential partners and suppliers and discover latest strategies to scale up & grow your business. Find more information at https://wbeconference.ca
Get your ticket to the conference today!
Finally, to all women entrepreneurs out there, don’t give up. Don’t let hurdles break you, instead use them to your advantage. You’re doing great, not just for yourself but for your community and your country at large. Keep at it!
If the trend of women in entrepreneurship continues the same way, we will soon be able to see an entrepreneurial landscape full of equal opportunities. Imagine a world where women not only can start and run a business but are also seen as the pulse of a healthy economy. As long as more women take the leap, keep learning and keep empowering other women around them, we can be certain of a brighter tomorrow for our women entrepreneurs.
Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada) is a Canadian non-profit organization with its goal being to bring corporate and government buyers and Canadian Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) together. WBE Canada certifies majority-owned, managed, and controlled women’s businesses. They provide a range of programs and services to assist WBEs in better accessing business opportunities with major corporations. This includes training and education, through annual conferences, workshops and webinars, and mentoring programs and networking events with like-minded businesswomen and corporate members. WBE Canada also provides its corporate members with forums, tools and techniques to broaden and strengthen their goals.