“Females are born with a fortitude that is second to none. They’re tough and resilient. Women are much more likely to research and plan in order to start a business. Women are more action-oriented. They multi-task and juggle multiple roles successfully, therefore are used to leading and managing people, resources, and time.”
Well if that isn’t girl power, what is? According to Erica Smith, Executive Director of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) these are the cold, hard facts.
Mrs. Smith who has sat at the helm of the BEDC for a number of years, recently spoke with SheHub as the two organisations are set to launch a collaboration series: Lady Boss, which will highlight a number of female entrepreneurs from across Bermuda over the next six months.
According to the latest data gathered by the BEDC in 2018, women are most likely to become entrepreneurs.
Mrs. Smith shares: “We surveyed BEDC’s stakeholders in both 2012 and 2018. The data supports that most businesses in Bermuda are owned by women. When we surveyed the population in 2018, we found that 29% owned a business at some point and that 28% of them had been women-owned.
“Of that 28%, 18% were still owned by women and they had a lower attrition rate than their male counterparts. Also this population survey revealed that 30% of the population were minded to start a new business within the next three years, so interest in entrepreneurship is high.”
She adds, of the population who indicated they would start a business, of our young population (under 21 years old), more females than males were interested.
Is there a right time to become an entrepreneur?
“There is no single right time across the board for everyone. I believe it’s when the entrepreneur is ready – emotionally, knowledge-wise, prep-wise, resource-wise, finance-wise,” says Mrs. Smith.
“It’s when they have researched and planned well enough for them to make the jump. They will always feel nervous, and if there wasn’t a small pit in their stomach I would be surprised – that comes with entrepreneurship – it’s a risk. But they should feel comfortable enough to know that they did enough preparation to take a calculated risk and that they know enough about their business, their products and services, their industry, their competitors, and their operating environment to make timely and well-informed decisions.”
One critical part of the operation of any business is the business plan. Let’s be honest, how many of us have thought we could avoid creating one and just get on without it?
Mrs. Smith says putting together one should be non-negotiable: “Just like in life, you have a plan with personal goals of what you want to achieve, or a budget to guide and track your personal spending, or a plan to go on a big vacation. A business plan is essentially a road map for your business. It’s important because people keep things in their head and then they forget a lot of stuff or they don’t have a rationale for why they made a certain decision.”
“A business plan gets all that stuff out of your head and onto paper. It allows you to dream big; but to validate your product or service; also to analyse your goals and objectives; understand your target market and ideal customer; map what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and by when; understand how much it’s going to costs; and predict how much you should earn if you follow the plan. Entrepreneurs are hard pressed to know if their business is successful or profitable if they have nothing to measure/compare it against.”
If you have ever been an entrepreneur, you know that being one is not for the faint at heart and inevitably, mistakes will be made. SheHub asks Mrs. Smith what is one of the worst mistakes business owners can make. She shares that she believes there are four.
“Trying to be all things to all people instead of focusing their business on the right target market for their product or service – so really understanding this because every decision you make after that (e.g. brand, location, PR, etc.) depends on that target market.
“Another mistake entrepreneurs make is lacking adequate research and planning. Not having a plan at all and just winging it means not understanding the industry, the market, your competitors, your costs, and not setting goals and objectives for your business which you can then track your progress against and shift immediately.”
She continues: “Undercapitalising your business is another mistake. Not understanding the true cost of your business, which leads to not having sufficient capital to start and sustain you especially in the start-up phase, and then not pricing your product or service appropriately to cover all the costs and make a profit.”
Mrs. Smith shares the fourth mistake: “Not pivoting and failing too slow. Many entrepreneurs fail to pivot or adjust quickly when things are not going according to plan. They bury their heads which then leads to the inevitable they are trying to avoid – failure. But failure is not necessarily a bad thing, because it gives you a chance to learn from that mistake to position your next venture for success – i.e. ‘I won’t do that again’. But many entrepreneurs fail too slow, trying to hang on to a business or business idea which they know isn’t working for far too long, when they could pivot, adjust, close, and move on to the next venture. So, failing fast and picking yourself up and moving on to the next idea should be the mantra.”