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Why female entrepreneurs should focus on local marketing

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Female entrepreneurship has been increasing in recent years. Around 40% of all businesses in the United States are owned by women. A number of factors are contributing to the growth in women that own their own businesses.

Greater educational opportunities, new grants for female and minority owned businesses and more progressive outlooks among consumers have started making it easier for female business owners to thrive. However, women are still going to face daunting challenges as entrepreneurs. The good news is that there are strategic guidelines they can follow to gain an edge.

One of the best options for women in business is to focus on the local market. They will have an easier time building a strong local brand and standing out amongst their competition.

Here are some great ideas for local female entrepreneurs.

Use the Yelp women-owned business feature

Many organizations across the country are participating in the effort to support women in business. Yelp is one of the biggest companies to get in on the trend.

On March 1, Yelp announced that it was going to start highlighting women owned businesses. Businesses are now able to edit their Yelp pages to let customers know that they are owned by women, which can be a great way to earn market share from customers that want to support women in the business community.

Support other local businesses

You are going to want to support other local businesses if you want to succeed. One way to do this is by purchasing from local businesses such as union made apparel. This shows that you care about supporting the local economy, which will help you in turn.

Participating in community engagement activities can be a boon for women entrepreneurs

Gender expectations are not as strong as they used to be. Unfortunately, they still persist in some ways. The good news is that there are ways that women can use them to their advantage.

Women are expected to be more altruistic then men, even if they own their own businesses. While this standard may seem unfair, female business owners can use it to gain precious political capital in their community. Participating in various community activities can be a good way to help them establish their business brand locally.

There are a lot of organizations that can be very helpful for building a local brand as a female business owner. Some organizations are specifically made for women in business. However, it is also important to join organizations with broader missions. Your local Chamber of Commerce, rotary groups and organizations dedicated to specific industries are all good bets. These organizations also work to promote women owned businesses, but they are also good for emphasizing the main selling points of any organization.

Don’t be afraid to start your own network of women owned businesses

Joining existing organizations can be a good way to grow your company. However, you don’t want to rely exclusively on the infrastructure of your local Chamber of Commerce or women in business groups to thrive. These organizations could help you succeed, but it is also good to have your own network in case you want to pull away from them. This is a great point that AlexAnndra Ontra, the owner and founder of Shuffrr pointed out in this article.

There are several reasons you might want to build your own network with other female business owners from scratch:

  • Some of these organizations are very political. There are usually going to be a couple of key power players in them that hold most of the cards. You can still manage to get value out of them without the support of these people. However, it is going to be a lot harder if you aren’t in their good graces. When you build your own network with other female business owners, then you don’t have to worry about the nonsensical political aspect of things.
  • These organizations tend to have large fees. The biannual cost of joining a Chamber of Commerce could be $400 or more. The fee could be worthwhile, but it will definitely eat into your overhead if it doesn’t pay off. If the majority of your business is going to come from the same handful of people that make referrals, then it might be more worth forming your own coalition on the side and passing on the cost of joining the organization.
  • You might be expected to put time and effort into activities that don’t do much to advance your organization. Groups like BNI have referral requirements that might not pay off if the people sending referrals are not reciprocating. You won’t need to waste energy with a network of other business owners that you built from scratch.
  • Some of these organizations are not very sensitive to the needs of women in business. Even well-meaning men that help organize them with this intention might not understand what you really need. It might feel patronizing and a waste of time.

There are a number of ways that you can find other female business owners to collaborate with. You shouldn’t find a shortage in your area. However, you will want to vet them carefully. It is important to make sure that their business model aligns with yours and they have a similar commitment to success.

About Susan Alvarado

susana@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Susan Alvarado is a business trainer and advisor specializing in HR and communications strategies

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