A 2018 study indicated that women’s gross earnings dropped substantially after their first child and that mothers earned 20% less than men. So, it would make sense that more working mothers are pursuing entrepreneurship, where they create their career track, often referring to themselves as mompreneurs.
However, women face many barriers in entrepreneurship. Even though women started 49% of new businesses founded in the United States in 202, female entrepreneurs often lag far behind their male peers regarding funding and other resources. Even more concerning, 46% of female entrepreneurs in the United States say they have directly experienced gender bias.
These biases and barriers often come from a perceived lack of authority — one often tied to gender (like others assuming you’re not fully committed to your business because you’re also a mother). While you may not be able to eliminate sexism in the entrepreneurial world fully, taking steps to build your authority as a first-time entrepreneur can help you address some subconscious biases others might hold.
1. Have a Strong Sense of Purpose
Ultimately, your ability to build authority comes from within — from how you perceive yourself and your business. If you put yourself down with negative self-talk that you are a fraud or someone who doesn’t belong in the business world, you aren’t last long as a founder.
Instead, consider your purpose in starting your own company. Why do you want to run your own business? Why do you want to offer your product or service in the way that you do? When you can clearly define these attributes for yourself, you can better hone how to communicate these things to others persuasively and effectively, which builds your authority.
Even more importantly, that sense of purpose will help you build other essential traits female entrepreneurs need to succeed, such as resilience and resourcefulness. Strengthening these traits will, in turn, further help build your authority — creating an ongoing growth cycle.
2. Showcase Your Track Record
When building authority, what you do for clients and prospects is far more important than what you say. When seeking additional funding or a big-time client, they must see proof that you can walk the walk.
In an interview with the “Why We Need More Women Founders” series, Master Coach Desiree Stapleton explained, “It’s easier to succeed when you’ve already had some. Why? Because there are already eyes on you. No one knows you’re worth paying attention to when you’re just starting. You may come off as just one more person that does XYZ. You don’t become ‘different’ or ‘special’ to many onlookers until they start to see things like article features, testimonials, or validation of your credibility by many different people.”
Even if you must “start small” regarding your clients, those early testimonials and case studies provide the foundation for a strong, authoritative portfolio and pitch.
3. Control Your Own Story
Aside from the work you perform on behalf of your initial customers, it would help if you were mindful of how you tell your own story. Consider the unique details of your background that make you uniquely qualified to run your business.
This could include your experience at other companies before you left to found your startup, a relevant educational background, or a personal history directly tied to your product or service. Don’t forget, your experiences as a mother can often apply to this, too!
In other words, you need to build a strong personal brand — which won’t just be built by having a good resume. This happens when you share your insights and knowledge through blogs, guest articles, social media accounts, and other resources. Cultivate a persona that shows you are a person of integrity who knows what she is talking about.
Another way to build trust and authority is to weave your experience into stories. “We buy from people we know, like, and trust,” says Shahrez Hayder, Founder of Authority Sharks, a PR firm for entrepreneurs. “And stories help you become a trusted authority because our brains are wired to believe a good story.”
Stories can be shared through social media, company and personal brand websites, and reputable publications and podcasts. “Telling stories helps us control our narrative,” Hayder continues. “It’s better to tell your own story before someone tells it for you, and when we include the challenges we faced to achieve victory, people not only get hooked into the story, they trust us because we were vulnerable.” And when we tell those stories in a reputable place, like a top media outlet, our story builds trust and earns us authority and credibility.
4. Be Persistent
Regardless of your industry, rejection will be a constant aspect of entrepreneurship. Successful female founders don’t give up after the first rejection — or the tenth.
“Just because one person says no doesn’t mean your project dies. Rework it and pitch it again,” says Erika Schlick of The Trail to Health in an interview. “This is a hard one to push through, especially in the early stages of your company. You have a passionate idea, but maybe someone rips it apart or doesn’t support it. Don’t let one person’s opinion ruin your vision or goals. It might give you a lens to pivot your vision but stick with what you want to achieve.”
Each rejection offers a learning opportunity to help you grow and better understand how to present yourself and your company. Your persistence is key to growing your knowledge of presenting yourself with authority.
Building Authority Can Be Hard, but It’s Doable
While women face many obstacles — particularly as first-time entrepreneurs — these shouldn’t deter you from your dreams. Building your authority as a founder requires a lot of work, but it can be done by putting in the effort. As you establish your authority and build your business, you can establish the success that will land you many clients in the years ahead.
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