In my journey of covering women in small business in India over many years, I have met and interacted with several women entrepreneurs. My long conversations with them about life, business and creating a business full of life led me to start thinking about what it is that makes the she-preneur and her business tick. While every entrepreneur and her recipe for success is different, there are indeed some common basic ingredients:
She believes in D-I-Y
Most women led businesses seem to be born out of a personal need that a woman wanted to fulfill or an experience that she wanted to transform. While many women do have fierce ambitions to do something of their own, there are many others who are incidental entrepreneurs simply because they needed something at a point in time, they did not find the appropriate options in the market or were unhappy with what was being offered and hence decided to do it on their own. In 2007, when ASAP Founder, Ruchi Chopra was unable to send a pizza to a friend across the city as a gift, she got into the business of arranging surprises! D-I-Y is a term that has created many a woman entrepreneur!
By the woman, for the woman
“Be the customer you want to serve”, Bapu’s golden words have been slightly twisted into an adage that many women entrepreneurs today live by. They understand the varied tastes, preferences and quirks of the sisterhood and hence are very often able to create unique offerings and experiences that men sometimes cannot – of course there are always exceptions to the rule!
Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network believes that products and services are best built by promoters who have personally experienced the pain point and are innovating to cater to that need. “We do see women creating products / services FOR women – we have seen several such companies which have grown well. For instance, Faballey, founded by Shivani and Tanvi, understood the need for smart, western wear for women and they have built the venture around that. Moreover, as women do most of the buying for homes/families, they are the target consumer. Hence when they design products/services they do provide these consumer insights and understanding” she says. But of course, there are always some men out there who feel our pain too! Ruparel adds, “Peebuddy – a product catering only to a woman’s need is built by a man!”
Her compassion helps her business
Scientific surveys of men and women suggest that women may have one significant quality in higher measure than men – empathy. In their minds, women are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes and feel their pain far more easily than men can and extrapolating this into the field of business, they are able to use this quality to understand consumer pain points better.
Women also tend to be far more intuitive, “mom knows best” is not a phrase for no reason – in business too, women are able to use their intuitive powers better to decipher market needs and hence design solutions with the greatest possible detailing. “I have seen many times that young startups go through hiccoughs and swivels. It is the Founder who ensures that the team stays together. The empathy and emotional buy-in of the team is the stickiest glue for a startup founder!” says Ruparel.
Mridu Bhandari is a television anchor who has specialised in small and medium business reporting. Views are authors own