Entrepreneurial Women & Business Relationships
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Women-owned businesses continue to gain momentum across all industries, and a recent study shows they are outpacing all but the country's largest companies in growth.

The success of the estimated 8.3 million women-owned businesses is playing a significant role in bolstering the U.S. economy, generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenue and employing nearly 7.7 million people, according to a BusinessNewsDaily study. And that success is largely driven by their ability to form and maintain meaningful relationships.

"We are more maternal by nature, most of us, and so nurturing those relationships seems natural to us," says Nada Jones, founder and CEO of ltd365, a publishing company providing entrepreneurial women with inspiration and resources.

But she says women aren't better at relationships than men, they just approach them differently.

Entrepreneurial Women Connecting with others

Women are typically very good at asking for help and connecting with others, and their approach to people can differ from a man's approach, says Jones, who co-authored Sixteen Weeks to Your Dream Business: A Weekly Planner for Entrepreneurial Women, published by McGraw-Hill.

"Men lead with a handshake and, 'Here's my title,' and they begin talking from that space," she says. "They generally begin talking about what it is they do and what it is they're after in the other person. But for women, often it begins with, 'I love what you're wearing,' or, 'I heard you say you're a mother.' It begins from the relationship, it begins with, 'I want to know you, and then I want to know about your business,' whereas men more often approach it from the business side."

Fostering a personal connection from the start lays a foundation of trust and paves the way for more open and transparent collaboration.

Leveraging the digital community

Women have also taken advantage of the opportunity to build relationships with peers and customers through technology.

"The leaps and bounds in technology have allowed women to rethink what it means to be engaged and doing things outside of the home," Jones says. "That provides the kind of flexibility they may want to have relative to their family. I also think for young people entering the market, because it's been such a difficult market to enter, that it's provided them an opportunity to brand themselves."

Social media and blogs make it easy for aspiring entrepreneurs to begin building a brand and networking.

"(Women are) able to engage and build their brand, build a community, build something around them that, in essence, enables them to get that job or start that business or get the recognition, because they have a certain social media following and they're now able to turn that into something they can monetize," Jones says.

Even if your social media or blog isn't itself generating income, establishing yourself as an expert source can lead to opportunities such as book deals, or hosting and speaking opportunities. "Look how many bloggers have a following that end up becoming a series of relationships and friendships," Jones says. "They're meeting. There are summits now, there are organizations where people can meet each other who have developed a relationship online."

Cultivating a team

Establishing trust and personal rapport bolsters leadership ability, and women leaders have a more inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem solving and decision making than men, according to a study conducted by management consulting firm Caliper Corp. and London-based women-advancement organization Aurora.

Their ability to take information from all sides and thus read situations more accurately enhances women leaders' persuasive capability, according to the report. Genuine understanding and care about others' perspectives allows them to share their own perspective in a relatable way and fosters feelings of value and inclusiveness among employees.

By consulting with others — employees, experts or fellow business owners — leaders gain access to resources and advice from various angles, leading to more informed decision-making.

Making it last

Women's relational strengths make them great entrepreneurs, enhancing their networking and leadership abilities.

However, Jones warns that this strength can also become their greatest weakness. To maintain lasting entrepreneurial relationships, they must be kept professional. "It's not an opportunity to share parts of your personal life," Jones says. "It's not an opportunity to speak poorly and gossip about other people in your professional community. Handle yourself in a mature way and in a way that you would like to be treated."

By using their ability to form and maintain meaningful relationships, women will continue to play a significant role in growing the U.S. economy.

Summary

Successful business is all about building strong relationships, something that female entrepreneurs have proven themselves especially adept at. By taking an interest in each person, leveraging networks — both online and off — and building an inclusive team, any executive can build the types of relationships that can take a business to the next level of success.

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