February 5, 2009

I was reading over some statistics the other day. Not that I’m one to follow statistics, but sometimes I feel this need to see how I fit into the world. I discovered that women own 34 percent of small and mid-sized businesses and they are likely to have fewer than 20 employees. Women also tend to have businesses in the service sector. What stood out most, however, was that women-owned businesses are not producing the revenue of their male counterparts. The truth is that businesswomen have a handicap and very few women seem able to get around it.

A few years ago, one of Canada’s most successful female entrepreneurs told me the key to her success was her mandate to give to others and build long-term relationships. Since meeting her, I have made it a point to study successful leaders and what I notice most is that successful leaders aren’t always concerned with immediate returns. They will often back people to gain long-term, committed support. In contrast, bad leaders tend to have a much more narrow vision, looking only at the task at hand, the immediate gains, while completely ignoring the opportunity a long-term relationship might offer. The fact is that men seem far more aware of the need to build support networks and create strong relationships that feed into them.

Businesswomen tend to have a harder time teaming up; they don’t go out of their way to truly help each other or collect favours the way men do. Women network far more than men, but very rarely develop the relationships they make further by supporting each other’s businesses. And this may be why male entrepreneurs tend to build bigger, more successful businesses than women. Good leaders pay it forward so they will get help from others when they need it most. Successful men and women work to build strong relationships; they give real support, not just lip service, and I’ve noticed that the very best make sure they give more than they receive.

This year we are analyzing companies, their business strategies, and the people who drive them, in order to pass on helpful business ideas to our readers. So far what has stood out most is that the leaders of successful businesses are all people who pay it forward.

The one thing we can’t fail to discuss this year is the fact that men, in general, are still better at business than women. It’s not easy to keep to our mandate of inspiring women while facing such a harsh truth, but dealing in truth is the only way to see the obstacles that need to be overcome.

If you know a successful woman, one who gives to others and builds strong relationships with all those around her, please let us know about her by filling out a Woman of the Week nomination form available at womenspost.ca.

We have just launched our event gallery, featuring photos of past events and a listing of what’s to come. If you have an event and would like us to be there, please fill out the request form in the event gallery section of womenspost.ca.

Speaking of events, one of the best networking opportunities in Toronto (okay, I’m a little biased) is our Courage to Lead event. Our next one will be hosted by Swarovski at its Bloor Street Gallery Store in Toronto from 6 – 9 p.m. on March 4. The focus: “Is real estate a good investment?” I do hope you will join our editor-in-chief Justine Connelly and me as we put the question to industry experts (Ann Bosley, Elli Davis, and Gareth Seltzer). Tickets are available on our website.

Sarah Thomson can be reached at publisher@womenspost.ca.

Image by HK James Ho. Courtesy of Creative Commons.


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