Growing up, Victoria Crittenden remembers how hard her mother worked. A mother of eight, she made money where she could, whether sewing, cleaning the church, or ironing clothes.

Eventually, she sold cosmetics for Avon, thriving as she built her business and the family’s financial situation improved. “I saw firsthand how my mama’s self-confidence grew as she became a businesswoman,” says Crittenden, a professor of marketing at Babson College.

Crittenden’s entrepreneurial mother is the inspiration for a new bookGo-to-Market Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs: Creating and Exploring Success, that Crittenden edited. “This book is about empowering women,” she says.

Nearly 40 scholars and practitioners from Babson and around the world contributed to the book, which explores the power and potential of female entrepreneurship. Here are some tips and go-to-market strategies they offer for women looking to build and grow their ventures.

Support Each Other

Look to other women. Together, you can bolster each other in a variety of ways, including role models, investors, and builders of supportive entrepreneurial communities.

“Instead of the ‘old boy’s network,’ women need to build and establish a plentiful ‘old girl’s network’ to promote and sustain women’s entrepreneurship around the world,” writes Lakshmi Balachandra, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Babson, and Prabha Dublish ’18, co-founder and president of Womentum, a crowdfunding platform for women entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Find Funding

Obtaining financial backing remains a greater challenge for women entrepreneurs than it is for their male counterparts. According to the latest Diana International Impact Report, less than 3% of all companies funded by venture capital have a woman CEO.

Candida Brush, Babson’s vice provost of global entrepreneurial leadership, offers three funding strategies for women entrepreneurs. One, seek out women investors, who are more likely to invest in women-run businesses. Two, give investors confidence to support you by emphasizing your executive experience, education, and other qualifications. And three, understand that investors want to back companies with potential for growth, so make sure to outline your growth strategy.

Make a Difference

Women entrepreneurs have the ability to make a great difference in the world.

Lauren Beitelspacher, associate professor of marketing at Babson, writes about a number of women entrepreneurs who are striving to change the fashion industry by offering sustainable clothes that are durable, affordable, and attractive. “(They) are changing the way products are made and, in doing so, hoping to change the way consumers shop,” writes Beitelspacher.

Know Your Customer

The co-founder, president, and CEO of Ceja Vineyards, Amelia Ceja is a woman leader in an industry dominated by men. In examining Ceja’s career, Anjali Bal, assistant professor of marketing at Babson, and Kelly Weidner, assistant professor of marketing at Saint Mary’s College of California, discovered what has driven her success.

Ceja understands her customers and pushed to target people of color, who were usually disregarded by the wine industry. Her mentor had advised her against making that move. She ignored his advice.

 

Originally published at Babson Thought & Action on 6 February 2020.