Women business owners have contributed to the economy tremendously in terms of innovation, revenue, inclusive growth, and more. Yet, they are still underrepresented globally, and Singapore is no exception.
A joint research conducted by Accenture and WEConnect International in 2020 found that women-owned businesses can add S$95 billion to Singapore’s economy if they are given equal chances to grow. This is roughly equivalent to a 20 per cent increase in gross domestic product (GDP).
“Businesswomen Grow Economies. Singapore is Next” Report, 2020
In order for these women-owned businesses in Singapore to thrive, the same research has highlighted four main barriers which they need to overcome. These barriers include the limited market and financial access given to women entrepreneurs, and gender-biased practices in the workplace.
In addition to these setbacks, COVID-19 has put a strain on women-led businesses. A survey by WeConnect International conducted mostly among women entrepreneurs found that 82 per cent of its respondents have been negatively impacted by the pandemic in the second quarter of 2020.
At Lime Agency, we resonate with these challenges. Thus, as the first certified women-owned business in Singapore, we would like to help other women entrepreneurs in expanding their business, especially during these trying times.
With over five years of experience running a marketing consulting and design agency, the co-founders of Lime, Rigmor Berthier, Lee Hui Ting, and Cecile Gauthier, are sharing some useful entrepreneurial tips.
From left to right: Rigmor Berthier, Cecile Gauthier, and Lee Hui Ting. Founders of Lime Agency Pte Ltd.
If you are a budding woman entrepreneur, read on to uncover our top five tips and resources to grow your business.
5 Tips for Women Business Owners
Make your woman-owned business known
Do not be afraid to let others know that you are a woman-owned business. Establish this clearly on your website and social media channels.
Today, many corporations are supporting women-owned businesses as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals. In order to make this happen, they need women business partners and vendors.
Take The Coca-Cola Company for example. They are running an initiative called the 5by20 programme, which aims to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by the end of 2020. Additionally, they assist women who own small businesses, offering them access to training courses and financial services.
On top of being women-led, you will also need to provide quality products or services to secure these partnerships. This can be through conducting in-depth competitor research to truly understand the gaps that currently exist in the market, and how your business can fill them.
Start paying attention to the customer reviews your competitors are receiving. See if you can identify what their customers would want their products to have, and use that to your business’ advantage. From this, you will be able to determine where you stand among your competitors. You can then market your product or service to cater to your prospective consumers better.
Consider both women and industry networks
Many successful businesses make it far through networking. Thus, it is crucial to build on your network, not only among other women-owned businesses but with other players from your industry too.
To start, you can consider joining a local network hosted among women business owners and connect with them. The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s (SCCCI) Career Women’s Group is one of them, where they provide both local and overseas networking opportunities for career women.
As you network, do not hesitate to ask questions and share your thoughts with other business owners. The key is to open up conversations and seek advice from other professionals on how you can improve your product or service.
Once you have built that rapport, it is always good to stay in touch. Keep them in mind and connect them with your clients who may require their products or services. Other businesses in your network might just connect you with their pool of clients, so do not underestimate the importance of networking!
Besides that, leverage networking tools such as LinkedIn. Remember to keep your LinkedIn profile updated before you start connecting with other business associates. After you make a connection, use the Messaging function to have conversations with them. You can also create or join groups to discuss, share industry news, gather advice, and send messages to other members. Share your knowledge and develop your professional network.
Support other women-owned businesses
Extend a helping hand to other women entrepreneurs, such as mumpreneurs or those running social enterprises!
We recommend you to check out social enterprises like Bloomback and School of Concepts. These are enterprises who aim to create a positive impact in society. For instance, Bloomback sells flowers with a purpose—to empower marginalised communities with skills training and employment. By supporting these enterprises, it allows them to expand their resources and do more to benefit society.
Mumpreneurs are also in need of support. According to The Straits Times in 2020, mum entrepreneurs are becoming a growing community. More millennial mothers are starting home-based businesses to grant themselves more time to spend with their children. However, with the COVID-19 crisis, these businesses are struggling to keep afloat.
So, what can you do to help? As a woman-led business, you can use your social media platforms to share their products or services. Introduce your audience to the hidden gems that these businesses provide, such as good food and practical gifts. This tiny gesture can help their businesses gain visibility and growth.
Become an expert business owner
Besides that, attend webinars and events, or even listen to podcasts. For example, one of our partners, Be Your Change, a women-led podcast, wrote an article to introduce other podcasts produced and hosted by women. One of their recommendations was Go Simone, where Cecile, one of the co-founders from Lime Agency, was invited as a guest speaker!
Alternatively, you can showcase your knowledge by speaking at webinars and podcasts. If this is not your cup of tea, try blogging instead! The idea is to get your business out there while portraying yourself as authentic and knowledgable.
Confidence is key
Have you ever experienced a nagging feeling that you are not good enough? That no matter how much recognition you have earned, you somehow still feel like a fraud? Then, you might have the “imposter syndrome”. This is a common feeling that persists in the working world, where women tend to judge their performance as worser than men, even though they are just as qualified to succeed.
When you let it overpower you, it can affect your confidence. As stated by The Business Times in 2020, one of the issues affecting aspiring female entrepreneurs appears to be a lack of confidence, where only 17 per cent of women in Singapore see potential in entrepreneurship.
At Lime Agency, we have a few confidence boosters up our sleeves that we think can help you overcome the imposter syndrome. One solution is through positive affirmations, where you compliment yourself every time you feel devalued. Before you think this is boastful, this simple act can have a powerful effect on how you perceive yourself. So, saying phrases like “I value my time and input” does wonders to boost your confidence.
Conversely, talk to other women colleagues and ask if they go through the feeling of self-doubt too. Knowing that others feel the same can be a confidence booster. If that doubtful voice comes creeping back, acknowledge it but do not let it get to you. Instead, remind yourself that others feel the same and that this is just the imposter syndrome talking.
5 Resources for Women Business Owners
Sign up as a member with WEConnect International
WEConnect International is a global network that aims to connect women-owned businesses to qualified buyers. Women business owners can register to become a member and upscale their business with the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certification. Members get access to more benefits, such as networking and mentorship opportunities.
Although this does not guarantee the growth of your business, it gives visibility to you as a business owner and opens doors to local and regional opportunities.
Register with the Singapore Business and Professional Women’s Association (SBPWA)
Helmed by influential women leaders, entrepreneurs, and working professionals, SBPWA focuses on developing a strong community of female business professionals. If you are leading a woman-owned business, you can sign up with their Professional SBPWA Membership to gain access to valuable international networks and personal development programmes.
Become a speaker with Altafy
Altafy is an online network of business professionals, getting speakers on the right stages to amplify their brands. Register yourself with Altafy by creating a profile, where organisers can then connect with you. Ensure you mention that you are a woman-owned business or a female entrepreneur. From there, organisers can invite you to speak at their events.
This is a great opportunity to increase your recognition and credibility as a business.
Check out Doerscircle
Doerscircle is an all-in-one platform for self-employed professionals, including start-uppers, founders, and freelancers. They provide quality yet affordable solutions and collaboration opportunities to enable the growth of your business.
With Doerscircle, you can sign up as either a free or premium member as well, and enjoy discounts and opportunities to exclusive events.
Register with Just Startup
Coming up with a marketing strategy for your brand can be tough, especially for new entrepreneurs. But do not fret—sign up with Lime Agency’s very own resource centre for entrepreneurs, Just Startup! Learn how you can be smart in your branding and marketing.
Choose from a wide range of pre-designed and fully-editable branding kits. There are also tons of courses and articles which you can explore to grow your business.
Besides that, Just Startup runs a Brand Accelerator Programme, where you can engage with our marketing coaches from Lime, Rigmor Berthier, Lee Hui Ting, and Philippe Mendiharat, to accelerate your business’ growth. In just six months, allow us to build on your brand foundation and establish your digital presence.
These tips have personally helped us and we hope they will be of value to you, as your business continues to grow. Moving forward, we would like to see the number of men and women-owned businesses to be on par. Perhaps, in the future, women leaders will receive the recognition they deserve for their valuable economic efforts.
What change would you like to see for fellow women business owners in the future?