Paying it forward – advice to the next generation of women in business.

What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a business?

That’s the question I always ask of guests on my podcast, Inspiring Women Wales, to round off the interview.

I’ve posed that question so many times now that when someone asked me the same thing it really made me stop and reflect on all the great lessons and learnings I’ve heard.

The biggest realisation was that I have never, ever had anyone reply that they wished they hadn’t taken that step.  Despite all the challenges, all the bumps in the road (because inevitably, as with everything in life, there will be plenty) no-one has ever replied: “Don’t do it!”

And on that basis my first bit of advice would be that if your dream is to run a business, embrace it.

I hear of women who lack the confidence to talk about their business idea with anyone, even those they are closest to. Don’t let a great idea go to waste.

So, based on the wisdom of the female founders I’ve spoken to, and the work we do to support business owners at NatWest Enterprise, some practical steps are:

  • Be bold with your vision for your business. Write yourself a letter from five years in the future, and tell yourself what you’ve achieved in your business in that time. Write from the heart! Then use that vision to map out small stepping stones you can take on your way to achieving your dream. Breaking down your overall vision into these small goals can suddenly make it feel much more achievable.
  • Seek out role models and ask for their support. It’s amazing how happy most founders are to share their journey and the ups and downs they’ve had along the way. Network She is blessed with many supportive businesswomen – ask them for their help.
  • Find your ‘tribe’. As I wrote in a previous blog post, Dr Ernesto Sirolli, one of the world’s leading consultants on economic development, said: “The death of the entrepreneur is solitude”. It’s one of my favourite quotes and it’s so true. Find a community – make the most of Network She, embrace a co-working space, an accelerator programme and so on – and then stay connected. Be honest with them about what you need. It’s a great way to get peer support.
  • Acknowledge your ‘weaknesses’. No-one is good at everything. Knowing where your strengths lie, and the things you’re not so good at, is really important. Once you know the things you aren’t great at you can make a decision. Do you upskill, bring in someone who can do that bit of the business for you, or do you outsource?
  • Don’t be afraid to be ‘you’. Tell your story – everyone has one, and it’s what sets your business apart. I find it a bit of a trite phrase, but people really do buy people. And keep telling your story – sooner or later you’ll become one of those role models who are so very important to the next generation of women in business.


About your Author

Gemma Casey – Communications & enterprise specialist – helping businesses connect & collaborate – Ecosystem Manager, NatWest.

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