Women are starting businesses in unprecedented numbers. According to a recent American Express OPEN study of women entrepreneurs, nearly half of all new businesses are launched by women; in fact, an estimated 1,200 new businesses a day were started by women in the past year.
But the news is not all good. Relatively few of those businesses reach the million-dollar sales mark compared to those owned by men, and women-owned businesses account for slightly under 4 percent of the nation’s business revenues. Those figures haven’t changed much since 1997. What gives?
One answer can be found in a recent survey of women business owners. Just 9 percent of women entrepreneurs say they plan to hire new employees in the next six months. Of those not hiring, more than one-third (36 percent) say they’ll do more work without new employees. This, even though almost half of the women surveyed are optimistic their sales will grow during that time!
Refusal to delegate is a common failing among entrepreneurs, both male and female. But in my experience, women entrepreneurs are more prone to saying they’ll handle things themselves, either because it’s easier in the short term, they feel guilty asking an employee to do something they themselves don’t enjoy or they’re focused on saving money. American Express OPEN says women-owned firms employ just 6 percent of the nation’s workforce; clearly, the reluctance to hire is widespread among women business owners.
While it’s important to keep an eye on your business’s expenses, there comes a point at which doing everything yourself becomes counterproductive. If you feel confident that your company’s sales are growing and you’ve got more work than you can comfortably handle, it’s time to start delegating or, if you don’t have anyone to delegate to, start hiring.
Hiring permanent employees can seem like a huge step, especially if you had to lay off workers during the recent recession. But by creating realistic financial projections and developing a plan for growth, you should be able to estimate your sales for the next year and staff accordingly. Hiring full-time employees has benefits including loyalty, retention and the ability to develop staffers’ long-term skills in a way that fits your business.
Still leery of full-time, permanent workers? Look into delegating some work to a virtual assistant, independent contractor or company that handles whatever you need done, whether that’s online marketing, SEO, bookkeeping or sales.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.