Tips for Women Entrepreneurs

PHOTO_MARY SQUAREThe University of Michigan has one of the largest living alumni networks in all the world. The women graduates can belong to an even larger affinity group though. There are over 9 million women business owners, which has increased 74% since 1997,  according to the recent “State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.” Just like U-M alumni continue to work together and support one another, female graduates pursuing an entrepreneurial path are part of a growing group of support and empowerment that will only continue to grow.

As a woman and an entrepreneur since a young age, I haven’t felt different than my male counterparts. I never thought about gender much, nor let it stop me from doing what I aspired. Being an entrepreneur is more about your attitude and your work ethic than anything else. However, there are unique attributes we have as women that we can use to our benefit or let break us. There are ways we can improve our success rate. In my time as an entrepreneur I’ve learned several important tips for entrepreneurs, especially women, including:

Find mentors.  We’re not alone. There are plenty of women who, before us, started, managed, and grew businesses, and dealt with the challenges therein. Find them and build relationships with them. They’ll help, just as I give back and help younger entrepreneurs too.

Take care of yourself. Your health is all you have.  As women, stress impacts our bodies differently than it impacts men. Decisions we make to ignore stress and health can jeopardize our later years in ways we can’t take back. Be mindful of your stress and your health, even at a young age.

On the Uprise

Recent studies have demonstrated that women have a lot to offer the entrepreneurial community.

Recent data has shown that women-led technology companies are more capital-efficient, achieving 35 percent higher return on investment. Companies founded by women also represented a record 13 percent of venture capital deals through the first half of 2013, up from only 4 percent in 2004.

In other words, investors are starting to notice that it pays to have a woman in charge.  One recent study notes that over the past 10 years, the growth in the number of women-owned firms with $10 million or more in revenues has increased by 56.6 percent, a rate 47 percent faster than the rate of growth of all $10 million-plus firms.

Women now own 30% of all businesses in the U.S., accounting for some 9.4 million firms.

As more women start businesses and help other women, I can only imagine the positive impact in the world. With the Michigan educating some of the leaders and best, I’m excited to see the impact future U-M female graduates will make!

Written by U-M alum and entrepreneur Mary Lemmer.

Mary is an entrepreneur, author, and improviser.  She is the co-founder of Foodscape, a company that makes it easy to grow and share food with the community, and Iorio’s Gelato, a gelato producer and operator of Italian gelato cafes in Michigan.  Previously, she led customer acquisition at Fixed, an easy way to fight parking tickets, and helped dozens of companies, including Zingerman’s, Maggie’s Organics, Algal Scientific, and other ventures with fundraising, growth, business development, and culture.  She formerly was a Director at SoFi where she built out the business development team, led a nationwide marketing team, among other roles.  Prior to SoFi, she worked at RPM Ventures, a seed and early stage venture capital firm.  She is the author of Straight from the Investor’s Mouth, a book of advice for entrepreneurs.  She studied improv and comedy writing at The Second City and teaches improv workshops for entrepreneurs and companies with Improv4.  Mary graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelors in Business Administration from the Ross School of Business, College of Engineering Center for Entrepreneurship program in entrepreneurship, and minor in environmental studies. She was also in the inaugural cohort of U-M’s Desai Accelerator.

Comments (1)
  • Rodney Owens

    July 22, 2016

    Finding their passion can be help. Women are going to spend many long hours on working in and on their business. Thus, they can pick an industry that they don’t like, but are passionate about. Once feeling passionate, their enthusiasm and belief in what they are doing will inspire their customers for sure!

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