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Women and business: Break on through to the other side

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The glass ceiling is an unofficially acknowledged barrier to advancement, especially affecting women and minorities.

The glass ceiling still exists, but there is news that indicates it is becoming less prevalent in business.

Women own around 40 percent of businesses in the U.S. And great woman business owners are breaking and shattering the glass ceiling.

Here are some of the reasons why:

< More experience in encountering strong barriers

Woman business owners face many barriers, including subtle prejudices from lenders, potential clients and others. Women often have had to work much harder than men to be taken seriously and to overcome these barriers.

The outcome is that woman business owners have been made stronger and better prepared to confront and meet the challenges of running a business.

< More realistic in assessing and taking risks

Risks exist in every business, and there is a need to seek another opinion and consult with other team members when making big decisions. Women tend to assess risk more realistically because they are less likely to be overconfident in making decisions and to be more realistic about potential dangers.

Men and women entrepreneurs say they are prepared to take risk. Research from the Centre of Entrepreneurship in Scotland shows 87 percent of woman business owners see themselves as financial risk takers, compared to 73 percent of men. And 80 percent of women say they are likely to see opportunities where others see risk, compared to 67 percent of men.

< High emotional intelligence

Women tend to be more adept at reading emotional situations. Successful businesses exhibit a higher emphasis on consideration for people who company personnel interact with, such as employees, customers and suppliers.

Women value relationships, and sincerely treating people with respect is a strategic advantage in the business world. Building relationships in a respectful manner is a strong influence on the success of any business.

< High value placed on business longevity

There has been research that suggests women are more likely than men to reinvest business profit in order to generate steady and profitable growth. Meanwhile, men are more likely to look for faster growth, possibly driven by equity investment and a quicker exit.

Business longevity is very important to people interested in long-term returns and/or who want to work for a company that has a sustainable future.

< Creativity valued and promoted

Too many of today’s businesses are fixated and driven by analytics, numbers and key performance indicators.

Women realize that creativity is a critical success factor. Creativity in every aspect of running a business is important, and women are credited as being more in touch with their creative side.

< Work-life balance understanding

Women understand that a business is enhanced by paying attention to work-life balance and taking time for yourself outside the business.

Spending time with friends, family and those you love is very nurturing and makes one feel good. This is true for the business owner and employees.

< Effective approach in negotiations

Women tend to be better negotiators because they do not always feel the need to be the only winner.

Women value fairness because they have had to overcome many challenges and barriers to get where they are to succeed. Therefore, they tend to go into a negotiation with a win-win attitude rather than a winner-take-all objective.

< Higher levels of employee respect and value

Women tend to share the credit when things go well. Acknowledging the accomplishments and contributions of others has a great influence on making people feel good when working toward a common goal.

< Higher levels of education

Today, more women than men attend college. A bachelor’s or business degree is not a requirement to run a business, but it can be an advantage.

College connections can be very helpful for accessing funding or networking with vendors, suppliers, etc.

The rapid advancement and deployment of technology in business today means an advanced degree can give a business owner an important advantage.

< Mentorship

Women tend to be better at nurturing employees who report to them. This ability will enhance the state and success of the business by inspiring people in the company.

And today, more woman business owners are serving as mentors and networking with other woman business owners.

Glenn Ebersole, Professional Engineer, is business development manager at CVM Professional and CVMNEXT Construction in King of Prussia. He can be reached at gebersole@cvmnext.com or 610-964-2800, ext. 155.

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