The following advice is from a webinar titled “Diversity in Business: Prosperity for All,” featuring a discussion between two leading female entrepreneurs, Audrey Bracey Deegan, CEO of StepbyStep WorldWide, and Desirée Stolar, director of alumni engagement at Management Leadership for Tomorrow. The full discussion can be viewed here.
Women Support Women
Diversity in the workplace extends beyond the hiring of a few women to senior positions, according to Deegan. Diversity in thought, opinion and background is essential in making sure gender equality becomes part of the culture of an organization. To support this diversity, women need to support other women through the creation of cohorts or networks. This can be in the form of verbal support in the workplace, intergenerational mentoring, sharing resources and information, and collectively aggregating research to show that diversity is indeed good for business.
When it comes to financing your ideas, Stolar reflects on the importance of knowing your options: angel investors, venture capitalists, incubators and accelerators. “Never use credit to finance the start of your business; only use credit to scale and grow your business,” she states when highlighting the importance of testing your product or service before trying to grow your business. She encourages entrepreneurs to test quickly (using available finances and your immediate network) and then get your product in front of potential investors soon thereafter. It is important to be mindful when accepting financing to grow your business, but also to be ambitious and focused on your vision.
Look for Opportunities
There are many opportunities available at universities for young entrepreneurs, such as on-campus incubators and entrepreneurship labs, as well as local organizations that provide mentoring and seed support. “Passion, persistence and people” are needed to succeed as an entrepreneur, according to Deegan. And by supporting other young women along the way, a new generation of entrepreneurs can reshape how we think about business.
Interested in taking the next step with your business? Check out our #YALIEntrepreneurs page.