The growth of the digital marketing industry indicates how much businesses value having a digital presence in today’s always-on world and competitive market. As…
There are different types of women in business:
- The mompreneur who works from home and balances the demands of a growing business with that of their household, kids and husband.
- The solopreneur who works from home, refusing to hire and manage staff – they work with a slew of freelancers or consult or freelance themselves.
- The entrepreneur who has staff and is trying to grow a business from strength-to-strength with or without the challenges of a family thrown on top of things.
As a female entrepreneur I feel I will have arrived when I’m able to take time off during the day for a surf. While I still worked in corporate, I would dream of running my own business and surfing whenever I wanted to. Well, nearly four years into being an entrepreneur I can tell you that I haven’t taken time off to do that once.
Why? Because every free minute I have, when I’m not glued to my computer or in a meeting or managing staff, is dedicated to my two beautiful girls and husband. I’ve often wondered why I only ever see men surfing or kitesurfing during the day, and then I remembered that it’s probably because they know their women are carrying the burden of responsibility somewhere between home and the office.
So how can we as female entrepreneurs — those with and without kids and families — make more time for ourselves or our families. And which technologies are out there that can support our growth without taking more of our free time away?
1. Scheduling and Project Management
There are a host of free software programmes that allow you to project manage and plan your time effectively so you don’t drop the ball. Better yet, they make you feel more in control so that you can get more out of your day.
2. Accounting Software
Accounting is usually the downfall of many entrepreneurs who keep receipts stuffed inside shoe boxes and leave all bookkeeping for the last minute before tax returns are due.
That’s why FNB’s Instant Accounting package, free to their business accounts, is a life saver for most of the entrepreneurs I know. There’s also Xero, an online accounting package for small businesses as well as FreshBooks.
No excuse, ladies. You can’t grow and scale up without getting the basics in place first!
3. Social Media Scheduling
Mention social media and most entrepreneurs run for the hills. Not only can it be daunting, but it’s very time consuming to keep Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a plethora of other platforms up to date daily.
Hootsuite, Buffer, Bitly, JustUnfollow (now known as Crowdfire) help you to schedule and automate a few basic tasks, allowing you to still be present and active on social media, without it taking away too much of your all too valuable and scarce time.
4. IT Infrastructure and Hosting
Are you still using a free Gmail address? That’s a sure sign of someone who can’t be taken seriously. Okay, you’ve just not gotten around to it and besides, you don’t know how. Well, call your email hosting provider or your website hosting provider and get them to do it for you!
From personal experience, go with Web Africa, Afrihost or Hetzner for the most reliable service in South Africa. And please, don’t get international web hosting — they don’t have local call centres and you can’t be calling the USA every time.
You also don’t need to pay someone to set up an expensive IT network if you simply subscribe to the Cloud and store everything remotely using Dropbox.
Everything is virtual these days and there’s a reason for it!
5. Website Design
It’s imperative that each serious business has a website, but it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money developing one. You could use Pinterest or Facebook as your site until you have money to afford a decent website. Thereafter you can design one yourself using WordPress or Yola or a host of other free platforms.
Ranking on page one of Google will sort out your sales funnel so you don’t have to look for business – it will find you.
6. Network, Network, Network
Join a group of like-minded female entrepreneurs like the Cape Innovation and Technology Institute’s (CiTi) Women in Business Programme hosted from the award-winning and internationally renowned incubator, the Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock. The programme is aimed towards assisting women in business gear up for growth using technology and provides practical and hands-on training and mentorship on topics like the ones raised above.
Networking with other women in business will allow you to build relationships and share insights and challenges with other ladies who are in a similar position to you. Don’t try to do it on your own. A key to Silicon Valley’s success is their collaboration, networking and helpfulness.
The programme is facilitated by Phillipine Franke from Hashtopic, Dylan Kohlstadt from Shift ONE digital and Lisa Huang from Food and Chatter and brings together 24 hand selected, established female entrepreneurs from around Cape Town.
The programme has been developed by women, for women and the 10-week programme sees other successful female entrepreneurs from various industries presenting on topics including: Your Tech Strategy, Leadership, IT, Trends and Tools, eCommerce, Social Media, Customer Relations, Personal Branding and Time Management.
The group of highly diverse women from different backgrounds and industries, ranging from recycling to graphic design to children’s plush toys, have created a safe space for robust discussion and debate in order to both challenge and support each other.