One of the most important things for women entrepreneurs in tech to remember is that the word for the foreseeable future is opportunity.
Opportunity as in the sky is the limit for talented women that have a great idea and a solid business plan to back it. The reason for the opportunity is that despite the challenges that go with being in the minority, the notion that you are in the minority and will stand out as someone who should be given an equal chance will win the day.
With that understood, here are some tips on business success for women entrepreneurs developing a business startup in tech:
Show your passion for your product:
Whether you are stronger on the business side or stronger on the tech side, showing that you are a technology wonk while you are in the early stages of your business growth can pay a lot of dividends with both clients and potential investors. At a bare minimum, you want to know your product inside out and quite a bit about the technical underpinnings in order to pass muster with people who expect a technology wonk when they hear the words ‘tech startup’.
Be prepared to deal with adversity:
Some tech companies have meeting rules that disallow the use of asking difficult questions of a presenter. In the real world, because there are not that many women entrepreneurs starting tech firms, you will probably have people test you more so than if you were a man. If you are able to handle this type of adversity well by performing and remaining gracious, it can help you to win over the majority of those who listen to you because they are not blind and can see what is happening as it occurs.
Be yourself and explain if necessary:
There is a story where the former woman chairperson of Hewlett Packard was being tested by a Hewlett Packard board member while at an informal meeting at his house. He used a toy helicopter drone to ‘buzz’ her while she was talking with another board member. Instead of acknowledging that there was a helicopter buzzing her while she was talking, she continued on without missing a beat and finished her conversation. To her, it was the best course of action. To him, it seemed like she wasn’t responding like he thought people should. He expected her to complain and then he would put his toy away. He even mentioned as an example of how she didn’t react as perhaps she should upon occasion. For most people there is no right or wrong answer in that situation, but imagine yourself sitting there and having a helicopter buzz you. What would you do? And would you do it because it was what they expected or because it was how you would handle it? Regardless of how you would handle it, the message is that the situation ended with miscommunication- so the takeaway would be to explain your actions so that miscommunication that can linger no longer exists.
Provide a culture for your team to enjoy:
There are fewer differences between male managers and female managers than most books and articles would admit to. Yet your company culture should promote productivity and be inviting to everyone. Take some time, therefore to think about the things that you don’t like about working in an obviously male-dominated industry and consider incorporating different approaches into the way that your company does business. You may find nothing, but anything that you do find and change would likely be emulated by others in the future. In the present, it will allow you to avoid potential conflict that can come from misunderstanding.
Women that are entrepreneurs in tech represent a positive change for an industry that is a great place to work and would like to encourage more female leadership. And although it may sometimes be more of a challenge for women because tech is traditionally male-dominated,, the market is huge and so is their opportunity.
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Amy Klimek is an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter, a company that simplifies the hiring process for small to medium size businesses. Prior to that Amy has held similar roles at Rent.com, eBay and US Interactive.
For Amy, corporate culture isn’t about dogs and free lunches, it’s about empowering employees and creating an enriching environment for people to excel.