"Its becoming more and more commonplace for women to dig deep into their strengths, double down on their courage, and start the business of their dreams -- myself included."
Danielle Harris, co-founder of BMG
The old axiom says, “the rising tide raises all ships.” In the past seven years, we have witnessed a tidal wave of newly created female-owned businesses, a dramatic shift made possible through our increasingly inclusive and diverse economic climate. However remarkable the increase, the path to success for these women forging their own path is not without difficulty.
The Rising Tide
According to the State of Women-Owned Business Report 2019, Commissioned by American Express, more than 12 million businesses in the United States are owned by women, boosting the economy with an impressive $1.9 trillion in annual revenue. But this swell of female entrepreneurship has not always been typical.
More than forty years ago, in 1972, women-owned businesses made up just 4.6% of all businesses. Flash forward to 2019 and women-owned businesses accounted for 42% of all businesses, and the rate continues to rise. Between 2014 and 2019, the number of women-owned businesses climbed 21%, the annual growth rate over those five years more than double that of all businesses.
“It’s becoming more and more commonplace for women to dig deep into their strengths, double down on their courage, and start the business of their dreams -- myself included,” says Danielle Harris, co-founder of Ballistic Media Group, full-service marketing, and public relations organization based in Lake Wales, Florida. “When my mother and I started our own business, we had the predicted trepidation and fears. At the time it felt like we were outliers, but sometime in the last five years we have begun to feel rising, collective confidence in the power and potential of female entrepreneurship.”
Danielle recognizes the trend first-hand. She said she has heard of many women who have recently made the decision to “get off the endless treadmill of 9-to-5 corporate employment” and dive into something authentic and impactful of their own design.
“Women have the skills. Women have the drive. They are looking to create a new life that is meaningful and exceptional,” Danielle said. “However, I also see many who struggle. Self-doubt can be crippling, especially for women who are unfamiliar with owning and managing a business. There may be a feeling of an ‘imposter syndrome’ -- that you are trying to be something you are not. But I promise you, if you can dream it, you can do it.”
Although female entrepreneurship is growing, it is not without challenges.
Navigating the Storm
“What I’m seeing in my work is that women have an idea, but they are unsure of the next steps. They want to succeed, but scaling up a business to meet demand, finding qualified partners, and securing necessary financing are often steep obstacles,” Danielle added. “But the good news is no female entrepreneur, even sole proprietors, has to do it alone.”
As women-owned businesses have grown, so too have the resources designed to help women grow and sustain their businesses.
The internet age has resulted in a new era of online coaching, tools, and on-demand resources that help business owners move from promising to profitable.
One of the most useful tools for entrepreneurs, including female entrepreneurs, is CoFoundersLab.
This subscription-based online connection service (think Match.com for business partners) uses AI technology to identify, match and connect entrepreneurs with potential cofounders, team members, mentors, business leaders, and investors.
In addition to the matching service, the tool includes access to a robust community forum, as well as online resources.
Danielle is excited to be able to share her own experience with other entrepreneurs on the platform as a mentor and collaborator.
“I wish CoFoundersLab had been around when we started our business,” she lamented. “But the next best thing is that now, with this platform, I am able to mentor new entrepreneurs. I will have the opportunity to help newbies, especially women, learn from our expertise, knowledge, and even past mistakes.”
A Yearning of the Heart
Although the technological tools of the digital age aid in efficiency and productivity, there is no replacement for authenticity when it comes to creating a business that can withstand the trials and tribulations to come.
“To be successful in your business, for the long term, you must be genuine and trustworthy,” Danielle said. “To women who are thinking of starting their own business, I believe there is no better goal than to create a business intended to make life better, either through a product or service. If you don’t believe in it, your customers won’t either.”
When women in her network seek advice in developing guiding principles for their business strategy, Danielle recommends they read entrepreneurial expert Dr. Terri Levine’s ‘Heart-repreneur’ coaching books.
“What I love about Dr. Levine is that she believes that you don’t need to sacrifice your integrity to get ahead. That being heartfelt and professional are not mutually exclusive,” Danielle said. “Her coaching guides help readers, especially women, develop a framework that works within their values. She believes that disrupting the ‘status quo of traditional aggressive sales is the key to innovation and growth -- both for your business and for yourself.”
Danielle herself has experienced her own set of challenges and successes as a business owner. Danielle and her mother, yep that's me, began their women-owned business in 2019. What began as a fledgling freelance service has since evolved into a full-service powerhouse. Their client list has blossomed into relationships with regional and national brands including Marriott Vacation Club International, Gya Labs, Wildlifers TV, Sherpa Chai, and many others. Michelle’s vast experience in the industry has allowed her to become a member of the prestigious Forbes Business Council, Forbes Women's Council, and an Advisor with CoFoundersLab.
But their success did not happen overnight, nor was it a sure thing.
“There is an added layer of complexity when starting a business as a woman. Not only are you competing with other businesses, but you are also competing with your own insecurities of what is possible,” Danielle said. “Add in the possibility of being a mother, along with other household duties and priorities, and you have the potential for burnout and untenable stress.”
She said that although they have had ups and downs, she wouldn’t change their path.
“We have had seasons that were extremely difficult as a business, and as business owners,” Danielle said. “But I have an incredible sense of pride for what we have accomplished. And to see so many other women branching out to start their own businesses, it’s an incredible sight to behold.”
She said that if she could give one thing to new entrepreneurs it would be the gift of courage and confidence.
“One thing that I see often are women who are paralyzed by their worry of all that could go wrong,” she said. “But what if, after all that anxiety, you find yourself in a position that is more amazing, more fulfilling, and more wonderful than you ever dreamed? Don’t build a life based on your fears, instead, build a life on the vast potential of all that you believe is possible.”
To learn more about Ballistic Media Group visit them online at www.ballisticmediagroup.com.