Are You a Woman Launching a Business or Book

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Your Competitive Advantage May Surprise You!

What’s your best advice for women in business?

It’s a question I hear frequently as more and more women strike out on their own, whether it’s to start their own company, write a book, turn their great idea into a product, or otherwise monetize their talents.

Did you know that from 1997 to 2011, the number of U.S. women-owned businesses increased by 50 percent?

I love seeing this surge of confidence! Putting yourself out there is risky, but it’s better to try and fail than to spend a lifetime wondering, “What if?”

Yes, I do have a favorite piece of advice for women in business – it applies to men as well – but first, a word about self-employed women.

Did you know that our businesses added 500,000 jobs over 10 years while other privately held firms lost jobs?

That in 2007, we accounted for $1.2 trillion in sales receipts?

Unfortunately, we’re also less likely than men to borrow money to expand, so our businesses are smaller. They’re also more likely to fail and, despite that huge number of sales receipts, we ring up disproportionately less than our male counterparts.

That information, by the way, comes from an interesting report produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce — “Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century.”

It details the progress we’ve made and some of the hurdles we still must overcome. The latter include the legacy of a long history of discrimination; our tendency to be risk-adverse; and even some of the ventures that we choose. The report says we can help ourselves by creating more supportive networks, having access to more information, and finding mentors.

It was that last point that made me want to write this article. I founded EMSI Public Relations 23 years ago. Before that, I tried my hand at other businesses. I’m also a mother, wife, daughter and friend, and I’ve always found it important to be involved in the community organizations I value. Mostly, learning how to make it all work was good old trial and error.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m now making it part of my mission to share what I’ve learned with others. So occasionally, you’ll see PR Insiders with tips specifically for the women in our audience. I’d like to see the new generations of self-employed females blow through those hurdles that still remain before us and create even more opportunities for the generations to come.

So what’s my best advice? That’s impossible to say, but here’s a good tip for starters.

Know your audience.

And guess what? It’s you!

Women account for 73 percent to 85 percent of all consumer decisions (according to Boston Consulting Group, Competitive Edge Magazine, and TrendSight Group founder Marti Barletta).  From the grocery store to the automobile dealership to the tech industry, women drive purchasing.

You need to communicate with that audience in mind. No, you don’t want to exclude men, but you also need to be sure your message appeals to women.

When I’m writing anything, whether it’s an email or a media pitch, I make a point to read over what I’ve written from the perspective of my audience. If I’m writing for industry peers, technical language is probably fine. If my audience is the media, concise and direct is best. If it’s clients, I want to be sure whatever I write also reflects my appreciation of them.

And then there’s the feminine factor.

As a woman, I’m a sucker for honesty and sincerity. I’m turned off by condescension. Unless the writer is somebody I already know and respect, I have little tolerance for preaching, judgment, or demands.

Any message that takes those things into account will work for men, too.

Whether you’re writing marketing copy, posting on social media, or working on an article or newsletter, if your goal is to turn your readers into buyers, you need to write with your audience in mind.

That’s not so hard – if you’re a woman.

Hear me roar!
Marsha

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