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Category Archives: Business

7 tips to Use Facebook for Business

While the basics of setting up a page and posting to your business page are relatively straightforward, there are a lot of nuances to managing your page that could help you make the most of your Facebook presence. Here are 7 powerful ways to make your page more robust and engaging.

A key component of branding is consistency. As such, you should be sure you select a @ username that reflects your business. Of course, your ideal pick may not be available, so think of ways that you can get as close to your brand as possible. If you run the Acme Widget Company, maybe you could go with @acmewidgetco. Or even better, @acmewidget.

Remember that whatever you pick will be a part of your custom Facebook URL — shorter is better so it can fit on business cards or other promotional materials.

While Facebook keeps a pretty consistent look across the entire interface, you do have some freedom in how your page looks. You can choose from several templates that have certain tweaks to better match the type of page you have: professional services, business, shopping, standard, venues, politicians, and restaurants and cafes.

The differences are subtle, but they’re important. For example, the restaurants and cafes template places images higher so that you can show off the venue and feature menu items. The professional services option puts a prominent Call Now button at the top so potential clients can reach out to you right away. Spend some time experimenting here to see which is the best fit for your page.

You have quite a bit of control over how the layout of your page is created to fit the needs of your particular business. Make sure you’ve optimized all the right dials and settings that Facebook offers.

For example, you’ll find that the tabs on the side of the page can serve as quick stops for particular actions. Click “manage tabs” to put the photos, events or other items in a more prominent location. Also, if there are some tabs you don’t use, you’re able to get rid of those.

Facebook offers a range of call-to-action buttons that live at the top of your business’s page. You have a few different choices, so pick the one that makes the most sense for your business:

  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Use App
  • Play Game
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Watch Video

According to Buffer, one of the top methods for getting the attention of your audience is native videos. The company found some slightly better metrics for uploading your own video instead of embedding it from YouTube or Vimeo.

The beauty of videos is they’re so easy to produce now — all you need is a smartphone and a few minutes of light editing. Even if you’re not a professional video creator, it’s worth trying your hand at it.

Your Facebook page can be a portal for potential customers to reach out to you. A very effective way is through Facebook Messenger. If you add a call-to-action button, you’ll get messages in the Messenger app just as if they were from one of your contacts. Visitors to your page will also notice how responsive you are, which will leave them with a good impression of how you treat customers.

Facebook has rolled out a number of new tools for directing your content to a specific audience. While it will take some time to dig into the dashboard, you may find success if you are willing to target your content at characteristics more attuned to your potential customer base. For example, think about geographic location, age groups and other interest targeting. Marketer Jon Loomer has some more detailed suggestions if you want to dive in.

7 Best Photo Editing Apps

Smartphone and tablet cameras are better than ever, turning Average Joes into instant professional photographers. Still, smartphone and tablet snapshots are far from perfect. Photos can come out looking flat, dull or otherwise lifeless. Whether you share photos on social media or use them on your website or online store, a quick editing session with a photo editing app can make a world of difference in attracting customers with beautiful works of art.

To help you wade through the sea of photo editing apps available at app stores, here are some of the best for iOS and Android.

Sometimes, your shot is picture perfect — except for that one little blemish, glare or unwanted object. If you simply need to touch-up a photo, check outTouchRetouch.

TouchRetouch lets you quickly and easily remove all sorts of elements from a photo, such as shadows, lights, people, buildings, wires, spots in the sky, backgrounds and more. All you have to do is highlight areas you want eliminated by tracing it with your finger, and then tap Start. TouchRetouch does all the hard work for you.

The app also lets you perfect faces by retouching imperfections, evening out skin tones and smoothing the skin’s surface. And unlike many retouching apps that distort images post-edit, TouchRetouch maintains the quality of your photos so it’s not obvious that they have been edited.

Other features include a clone stamp tool to fill in any gaps, match backgrounds or duplicate elements, as well as unlimited undo and redo, 1:1 view and social media sharing via Facebook, Twitter, Picasa and Flickr. In-app video tutorials are also available to help you use and get the most out of the app.

Ask any Instagram power user or iPhone photographer and Snapseed is likely on the top of their list. Snapseed, by Google, is a free iOS and Android app that offers a slew of professional-level photo editing features.

To polish photos, the Auto Correct feature enhances colors, exposure and contrast in a single tap. The Tune Image feature tweaks brightness, ambience, highlights, shadows, saturation and other effects, and the Selective Adjust feature also lets you highlight and focus specific areas. Other features include frames, texture and tone adjustment, and sharing via email, Google+ and more.

Another great feature is the Brush tool, which lets you selectively edit different parts of a photo, for instance, manually adjust the saturation or exposure of a single object in a frame and not the entire photo.

The app also comes with several filters and effects to give your photos a unique look and feel. This includes classic Black & White, Vintage, Drama, Grunge and Retrolux, which adds scratches, film styles and other embellishments to give your photos a retro vibe.

Get Snapseed from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

VSCO is another favorite photo editing app amongst for iPhone photographers. VSCO — which stands for Visual Supply Company — is an all-in-one camera and photo editing app.

VSCO’s main draw are its wide range of filters. The app lets you adjust the strength of each filter manually by using a slider, giving you full control over its intensity. In addition to filters, you can further edit photos by fine tuning its exposure, contrast, sharpness, saturation, highlights, tin, temperature and fade.

In addition to editing tools, VSCO comes with a neat Sync & Edit feature that syncs your workflow across devices. For instance, you can take a photo and start editing it on your iPhone, and then finish your work on your iPad. VSCO also maintains the quality of your images by keeping high-resolution versions of your photos even after many rounds of editing on different devices.

VSCO also offers a robust organization system using its Photo Library. There you have the choice of displaying photos you’ve taken using the VSCO camera, photos you’ve edited and your favorite photos, as well as add existing photos from your phone’s native photo gallery.

If you’re more of the creative type, Mextures is right in your wheel house. This photo editing app lets you apply all types of textures to photos, such as grains, light leaks and gradients. There are more than 150 original textures to choose from, and it also comes with an unlimited number of layers for easy editing and blending of effects.

For fast editing, Mextures also comes with 200 “formulas” to instantly apply premade edits to other photos in just one click. Users can also save their own edits as formulas for future use.

In addition to textures, Mextures also offers basic editing tools, such as exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, sharpness, saturation, tint, black and white, fade and other adjustments.

Adobe Photoshop Express takes the basic photo editing features of Adobe Photoshop and packs them into a mobile app.

Designed for on-the-go photo editing, Adobe Photoshop Express is an entry-level photo editing app that offers a handful of features for quick edits and automatic fixes. Basic editing tools include crop, rotate, flip and red eye removal. You can also enhance photos using slide controls to adjust clarity, contrast, tint, exposure, temperature and more.

The app also supports panoramic photo editing, has social media integration, and comes with frames, borders and more than 20 filters to add special effects.

Adobe Photoshop Express can be downloaded for free at the Apple App Store and Google Play marketplace. In-app purchases deliver additional features, such as the Looks pack for additional filters and the Nose Reduction pack to remove grains and speckling.

If you’re looking to mainly add text to your photos and also be able to edit them, PicLab has you covered.

PicLab lets you easily get the message across with three easy-to-use tools. You can add text simply by tapping the text tool and start typing — and then choose from dozens of fonts — or by “writing” on photos with your finger or stylus. You can also choose from PicLab’s collection of pre-made messages, which include greetings, quotes, stickers and more.

Like other phot editing apps, PicLab also offers plenty of options to enhance your photos. Adjustments include brightness, contrast, blur, exposure, saturation, temperature and tint. There are also a ton of overlays available, such as borders, shapes, light effects, textures and patterns to change the look and feel of your photos.

A popular alternative to iOS cameras, Camera+ does more than let users take photos like a pro. It is also a powerful photo editing app equipped with several tools to transform images into works of art.

One of Camera+’s standout features is the Clarity function — in one tap, Clarity corrects colors, adjusts contrast and brightness, and enhances details to bring life to dull, washed-out photos.

Other features include digital flash to brighten dark photos; scene modes to create true-to-life photos based on your environment; brushing and layered effects; and borders and captions to for a personalized touch. Camera+ also comes with standard photo editing tools, such as rotation and cropping.

7 Ways to Improve Work-Life Balance

When you exclusively work from home, physical boundaries between work and your personal life can feel virtually nonexistent. Even if you’re organized, it can still be difficult to successfully manage your career and a household in the same space, especially if you’re raising a family, too.

While it may not be possible for home-based business owners and workers to completely draw the line between personal and professional, there are ways to better integrate the different facets of your life. Experts provided some tips for better work-life balance when you work at home.

When you work in an office, part of your normal routine includes changing out of your pajamas and into work-appropriate attire. Though it’s tempting to work in your favorite PJs, it may not be the best option for productivity.

“It helps if you get dressed as if you are going to work,” Lisa Chui, VP of finance and HR at Ubiquity Retirement and Savings, told Business News Daily. “You don’t have to wear a suit or heels, of course, but don’t stay in your pajamas, either. Dressing in clothes that you would wear outside of the home helps you get into the mindset of work.”

Getting ready is important, especially because the way you dress can affect the way you feel.

“Treat [your home] like a real work environment,” said Sara Davidson, founder of online female entrepreneur school Hello Fearless. “It makes a huge difference when you feel like [it is]. It changes the culture.”

Much like putting on a proper outfit, committing to only doing work in a defined space, like an office or another sectioned-off area of your home, can help to create a more productive work environment.

“It’s critical to commute out of the bedroom to a dedicated workspace that separates work from personal space,” said Bob Higgins, co-founder of board game Linknotize. “Once you’ve commuted to your workspace, treat your day as if you’ve actually left the house. In addition to having a dedicated work area, it is also really important to keep at least one space in the house as a business-free zone.”

“I find that having a dedicated home office space is very helpful,” added Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “Personally, I work from a renovated space above my garage, but the people on my team set up their home offices in guest bedrooms, renovated closets, corners of the living room and other creative areas.”

Working from home can create a disconnect; both with a “typical” work structure and the team. It’s important to touch base with the team and communicate effectively.

“If your company has a tool like Slack, join in the conversations and try to have some verbal communication, either by telephone or by the computer so that you have conversations,” Chui said. “If you are local but still work at home, try to go into the office for big team or company events.”

Chui encouraged remote workers to come into the office at least once a quarter, and participate in their company’s intranet, if it has one.

Giving your full attention to a specific task, regardless of whether it’s work- or home-related, can be tough with all the distractions that pop up throughout the day.

“I want to give so much to my family and I also want to give so much to my [business],” said Melissa Holland, president and founder of maternity bra line BeliBea. “It can be challenging to divide time between those two, especially when working from home.”

“Set your priorities and stick to them. As someone who has worked from home, I set times for when I work and I stick to them,” said Sankowich. “I don’t deviate from the tasks. I will always to do other things around the house (laundry and such) but I will not let house chores interfere with the tasks at hand and the times that I’ve allotted for work.”

Another obstacle to work-life balance for home-based professionals is the feeling of being “trapped” in their own home. If you don’t have any urgent errands to run or appointments, you could find yourself cooped up at home for several days at a time.

“Because the normal distractions are not there, it’s important to remember that you still need to take breaks so that you don’t find yourself working nonstop for a long period of time,” Chui said. “It’s important to get up every hour and stretch and walk around, plus take a proper lunch.”

Christopher Conner, president of Franchise Marketing Systems, noted that people who work at home should make time for personal activities outside the house, whether it’s visiting a local museum or taking a short vacation.

Although being connected and communicative with your team is important, it’s equally important to shut off when the day is over. If you’re available all hours of the day, it will quickly become an expectation and work-life balance will be nonexistent.

“I let my team know my general working hours, and they do the same for me,” Sutton Fell said. “That way, we’re not expecting people to be available around the clock, and we know more or less when someone is or isn’t going to be available for work-related things. This helps us all stay connected, while at the same time, setting and respecting each other’s boundaries and need for work-life balance.”

Sutton Fell noted that managers model this kind of behavior to their remote teams, to avoid confusion, overwork and burnout.

Entrepreneurs should also focus on decompressing during unscheduled “transitional” time during the day.

“I like the idea of building in ‘white space’ to my day — having a transition period between work and non-work hours,” Sutton Fell said. “It can really help to adjust your mindset from work to home life. Even five or 10 minutes of unplanned time between when you end work and start your home-related activities can help.”

The FlexJobs team reports doing meditation, having a cup of tea, stepping outside for some fresh air, and doing stretches as ways to spend “white space” time.

7 Ways to Give a Kickass Business Presentation

Experts shared their best tips for creating and giving a killer presentation that will engage your audience and help you land the sale.

“A good business presentation … has one main point and everything is structured around that point. It doesn’t rely heavily upon PowerPoint or slides filled with text, and it allows time for discussion and asking questions.”

“No secret sauce, tech or gimmicks. What makes any presentation engaging and effective is to put the bottom line up front and then provide whatever backup data may be needed. I’ve seen many presentations where the story is dragged out and tension is built, as if the person was trying to make a movie. But … people are busy and need to deal with the issue and then move on.”

“Focus more on what you will say and how you will say it rather than on having the coolest slides. Not everything you say should be on your slides. No more than three sentences per slide. Present your best data, or no data at all – but not all your data.”

“The true meaning of the presentation is to engage with people and persuade them to your point of view, not just deliver chunks of information. Every presentation, no matter the subject, must be tailored specifically to the people you are talking to. If you tell an anecdote, don’t simply repeat the same story wherever you are – not only will it become stale, you’ll also fail to make a connection to the people you’re addressing.”

“What makes a good business presentation is practice, practice, practice! It’s just like sports. You have to repeatedly practice your presentation to improve it.”

“Authenticity is engaging. Too many presentations are technically proficient but lack heart. If you are not genuine, there will be an unbridgeable gap between you and your listeners. Authenticity is the most important element of an effective communication in any context.”

“A high energy level (is) the most important step to take in presentations. This applies to any type of speaking, any size audience and any topic. If you seemed bored or tired, that vibe will translate to your audience.”

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Diversity Training

Despite the attempts some employers are making to build awareness of cultural differences in the workplace, their efforts may not be having the type of long-lasting impact they are hoping for, new research finds.

A study recently published in thePsychological Bulletin found that, while many employees gain an initial increase into cultural awareness after training, their thoughts on diversity tend to revert over time.

The researchers found that in order for diversity training to be successful, it needs to be mandatory, delivered over an extended period of time, integrated with other initiatives, and designed to increase both awareness and skills.

In addition, employers should vary up how the training is presented. The study’s authors discovered that employees responded more favorably to diversity training when it used several methods of instruction, including lectures, discussions and exercises.

Kate Bezrukova, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor in the University of Buffalo’s School of Management, said diversity programs have the greatest impact when they are delivered as part of a series of related initiatives, such as mentoring or networking groups for minority professionals.

“When organizations demonstrate a commitment to diversity, employees are more motivated to learn about and understand these societal issues and apply that in their daily interactions,” Bezrukova said in a statement.

For the study, researchers analyzed more than 40 years of research on diversity training. It included a combination of data from 260 studies and more than 29,000 participants across a variety of fields.

After examining all of the past research, the study’s authors discovered that diversity training typically has positive effects on employees’ knowledge and attitudes and behaviors of diverse groups.

However, over time, while employees’ cultural knowledge remained the same or increased, their attitudes regressed to what they were before the training occurred, according to the study.

“The attitudes this training attempts to change are generally strong, emotion-driven and tied to our personal identities, and we found little evidence that long-term effects to them are sustainable,” Bezrukova said. “However, when people are reminded of scenarios covered in training by their colleagues or even the media, they are able to retain or expand on the information they learned.”

Bezrukova said that in the end, diversity training has the potential to make a huge positive impact in addressing biases and prejudice within organizations. The key, however, is ensuring that the training is done the right way.

“At best, it can engage and retain women and people of color in the workplace, but at worst, it can backfire and reinforce stereotypes,” Bezrukova said.

The study was co-authored by Karen Jehn, a professor at the University of Melbourne Business School; Jamie Perry, an assistant professor at Cornell University; and Chester Spell, a professor at Rutgers University.

The Top 7 Workplaces for Women

As gender equality continues to take the spotlight in workplace issues, more women are seeking job opportunities with companies where they’re most likely to receive equal pay and treatment.

InHerSight, a workplace ratings and matching site for women, collected user ratings data on 27,000 U.S. companies across five main categories: equal opportunities for men and women, salary satisfaction, maternity and adoptive leave, top leadership, and management opportunities for women.

While InHerSight used its data to rank the best workplaces in each category on a five-point scale, the top 7 workplaces for women overall include:

  1. Title Source (4.6)
  2. Procore Technologies (4.4)
  3. The Boston Consulting Group (4.2)
  4. The Motley Fool (4.0)
  5. Netflix (4.0)
  6. Facebook (4.0)
  7. NetSuite (3.9)

According to Ursula Mead, CEO of InHerSight, female representation in leadership and management opportunities for women, as well as equal opportunities and salary satisfaction, are strong predictors of women’s satisfaction at work.

Last year, several high-profile companies announced improvements to their parental leave programs, so maternity and adoptive leave became a highlighted factor for InHerSight. Mead hopes that trend continues in 2017.

“The great news about many of these larger companies is that they’re always hiring, and often hiring for a lot of open positions,” said Mead. “For example, a quick look at the Netflix careers page shows hundreds of open positions right now. Of course, there’s a lot of competition for these jobs, but that shouldn’t stop you from applying.”

While it might be difficult to get a job at many of the bigger-name places on the list, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have all those benefits at your current or future company. InHerSight found that reviewing salaries and correcting pay gaps was the policy change women wanted the most at their current employer (more than 31 percent).

“Companies aren’t mind readers – if you want to see changes to benefits or initiatives, you may have to initiate that conversation with your manager or HR team. Most companies want to know how they can better support their employees and will welcome that dialogue,” Mead said.

She also suggested that women hoping to make a change at their company do some initial research on how their company’s policies compare to others and what the options are. “It’s also important to think about your request from the employer’s perspective to demonstrate awareness of what some of their concerns and constraints might be so you can both be solutions oriented.”

6 Creative Ways to Show Employee Appreciation

Anyone can perform a task at work knowing the end result is a salary. However, passion and hard work often stems from affirmations employees hear from their boss or manager. Workers don’t just crave a paycheck — they want recognition, verbal appreciation and encouragement.

Of course, it’s easy to say “thank you” or “good job” and be done with it; but there are countless ways to show your support and respect for your employees. Business News Daily asked business owners and experts to share the best ways to make your employees feel more appreciated.

“[Put] the power of recognition and reward in their hands. I use apps and programs like YouEarnedIt to give my employees the power to give each other kudos for good work done. I let my team members choose their reward, too, because not everyone wants a cash bonus or a gift card.”

“It could be done as a request to share. When we let people know we value what they have to offer by asking if they’d share their story, tips, methods, etc. with others, it provides validation to them that they do have something of value to offer, and it boosts their self-confidence and self-esteem in the process. This doesn’t mean we add a training function to their currently overloaded job, but it could be sharing at a team or organizational event, award ceremony or even in a newsletter.”

“Let them make decisions that matter and can impact the company. Verbal appreciation is important, and bonuses or other perks are appreciated, but ultimately, showing someone that you trust their opinion and expertise is far more valuable.”

“My favorite forms of appreciation include unexpected treats like group lunches or a shortened workday. I also like activities that add value for both the individual and the company, including team-building challenges and fully paid continuing-education courses.”

“Leaders need to be specific in expressing their appreciation so that it reinforces behaviors through positive feedback for the employee. Instead of a generic ‘great job,’ be specific — for example, ‘I really like how you’ve pulled the discussion back together – You’re an exemplary collaborator.’ Being specific also adds meaning and inspires the employee to further develop their skills in that particular area.”

“I think the most valuable way to recognize an employee today is through time —that is, time off, time to do something else besides work. It could be family, a hobby, or a charity, or a short vacation. I don’t think it needs to be routine or regular, and has the most value when it’s unexpected.”

6 Best Apps for Business Travel

Instead of managing every aspect of your business trip, why not let your smartphone do some of the heavy lifting? The right mobile apps can help you get where you need to be, comfortably and on time. And when you get there, they can make it easier to track expenses, meet remotely and be productive on the go. Here are our picks for the smartphone apps that no road warrior should leave home without.

Available for: Android, iOS, Windows Phone

There’s no better way to keep track of your travel expenses than the Concur smartphone app. Concur makes it easy to snap a photo of each new receipt in seconds, so you can ditch the paper. From there, you can add a new “quick expense” with just a few taps, with the ability to go back in and add details to each entry later. And if you did lose track of your receipt, Concur lets you import data from credit cards. Once your trip is done, the apps lets you fire off reports to your manager for reimbursement.

Available for: Android, iOS, Windows Phone

There are dozens of different ways to get held up in the airport, and that’s a big problem if you’re trying to catch a business flight. GateGuru makes navigating the airport easier. For starters, it gives you quick access to your itinerary from your Tripit account. It also lets you view airport security wait times, so you know if you need to get there early. You can even see a structured list of restaurants and shops, which could really come in handy when you’re passing through unfamiliar airports.

Available for: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry

Tripit is a handy app for tracking and managing the details of your business trips. It lets you track flight information, view and share all your itineraries and even syncs your travel calendar between iOS and Android devices. It can also pull in weather updates to alert you to incoming storms that could affect your trip. And once you’ve arrived at your destination, Tripit can recommend restaurants and hotels. The app also includes a basic expense-tracking tool for easier reimbursement later.

Available for: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry

The Skype app is a great tool for connecting with colleagues, co-workers and clients when you’re traveling away from the office. The app lets you make video calls using the front-facing camera on your smartphone for face-to-face meetings from anywhere. You can also remotely join staff meetings that are scheduled during your trip. Plus, the Skype app includes a handy address book for managing all your business contacts, making it easy for you to connect using just a few taps.

Available for: Android, iOS

Tired of getting stuck in the middle seat on business flights? The Seat Alerts app can monitor airline bookings and alert you when the seat you want becomes available. The app can help you find a window or aisle seat right up until the time the flight departs. That way you can lean against the window to catch some sleep, or snag an aisle seat for more leg room and a quicker exit when you reach your destination. The app can even simultaneously monitor seat availability on multiple flights.

Available for: Android, iOS

Finding a decent parking spot can be a nightmare, especially if you’re traveling in an unfamiliar city. The Best Parking app can help by steering you toward the cheapest and most convenient parking garages and lots, helping you save money and time. It currently only works in 105 cities and 115 airports across North America, so it won’t be much help during international trips.

Tips to Maintained Company Culture

The core principles and business practices of a company are an essential part of its DNA. The work a company’s founder or founders do to develop and instill these values are a critical component of what makes a business successful. When a founder passes away, it can be a pivotal juncture for the company, and how leaders react to this loss can have a profound impact on the businesses success moving forward.

Capriotti’s faced this very situation early this year when our founder, Lois Margolet, passed away. The day of her passing was a sad day for me personally and for everyone in the company, but it was also an occasion to reflect on the amazing foundation she laid for us to build on.

We’ve grown considerably from the original Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop Lois opened with her brother in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1976. Even as we expand beyond 100 franchised locations, however, the values she established with the first location — preparing our food fresh daily and using quality, all-natural ingredients — are still at the heart of what we do.

The first step to making sure your company’s culture endures through difficult changes is to make sure it’s well defined. Take time to think about what practices made the company a success in the first place and what separates your business from its competitors. Most companies will already have answers to these critical questions, but it’s important to define and codify these ideals and practices. Make sure every employee, from senior leadership on down, understands your culture and core values.

Make corporate culture a prominent piece of your hiring process. Ensure new members of your team understand the culture and share in the company’s values. For a franchised business, this is also a crucial part of the selection process when bringing new partners into the business.

As a business expands, it’s important that certain processes change and adapt to suit the needs of a growing company. Over time it’s also important for a business to remain nimble and adjusts other practices to keep up with the times and take advantage of opportunities and technologies. If you’ve taken the time to properly define your culture and its core values, however, you’ll know which parts of the business are important to maintain even as other aspects evolve.

Take advantage of opportunities to celebrate your core values when they present themselves. A crucial part of maintaining strong company culture is demonstrating why it’s important on a regular basis. Reinforce your commitment to these values with regular communication to both your leadership team and the company as a whole. Make it a cornerstone of major company meetings and communicate the ways the business is living up to its core values and the impact that commitment has on the business’s success when there’s an opportunity to share.

Changes, even ones as solemn as the passing of a company’s founder, are inevitable for a business that grows and remains successful over time. Core values and company culture are a key aspect of maintaining success throughout these changes, and ones who take the time to understand, communicate and celebrate their culture are the ones that thrive under difficult circumstances.

7 Challenges for Entrepreneurs Woman

Entrepreneurship was once considered a man’s domain, but the tide has shifted: More than 9 million U.S. firms are now owned by women, employing nearly 8 million people and generating $1.5 trillion in sales, according to 2015 data from the National Association of Women Business Owners.

“While the numbers are growing, there are still too few female investors and startup entrepreneurs, which can make it more challenging to raise capital and find mentors,” said Megan Smyth, CEO and co-founder ofFitReserve. “Network and you will discover that there are plenty of women and men who are eager to advocate for and mentor female entrepreneurs.”

Although more women are embracing entrepreneurship, they often face challenges not typically shared by their male counterparts. To shed light on some of these disparities, female CEOs spoke with Business News Daily about the key challenges women entrepreneurs face and how to overcome them.

Most female business owners who have attended networking events can relate to this scenario: You walk into a crowded seminar and can count the number of women there on one hand. When women entrepreneurs talk business with primarily male executives, it can be unnerving.

 In this sort of situation, women may feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically “male” attitude toward business: competitive, aggressive and sometimes overly harsh. But successful female CEOs believe that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations.

“Be yourself, and have confidence in who you are,” said Hilary Genga, founder and CEO of women’s swimwear company Trunkettes. “You made it to where you are through hard work and perseverance, but most importantly, you’re there. Don’t conform yourself to a man’s idea of what a leader should look like.”

Not all startup founders look for investors to help get their businesses off the ground, but those who do know how difficult the pitching process can be. Raising capital is even more difficult for women-owned firms: A 2014 Babson College report found that less than 3 percent of venture-capital-funded companies had female CEOs.

Bonnie Crater, president and CEO of sales and marketing analytics company Full Circle Insights, said venture capitalists tend to invest in startups run by people of their own “tribe” — for instance, a Stanford-educated investor will want to back a Stanford alum’s business. This means that VC firms with female partners are more likely to invest in women-run startups. But according to the Babson report, that accounts for only 6 percent of U.S. firms. Women looking for business investors should build confidence through a great team and business plan, Crater advised.

Investors typically look for businesses that can grow their valuation to over $1 billion, Crater said. “Think about how to do that,” she advised. “If you have experts on your founding team that can execute the business [operations] well, investors will have confidence in those people. [You also] need a good product market fit.”

Most would consider any given field to be male-dominated. It’s even more of a challenge when you’re coming in as a female having to give direction to males that may not want any direction. Alison Gutterman, CEO and president of Jelmar learned just that early in her career.

“As a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry, earning respect has been a struggle,” she said. Early in her career at Jelmar, she was managing men in their 40s when she was only 25. “They were more experienced than I and often dismissed my new ideas about marketing and sales, and some assumed I didn’t have the drive to put in the long hours and hard work they did.”

She notes she’s heard it all: from being dismissed as just the boss’ daughter to presumptions that she was living off her father’s and grandfather’s reputation, as they were the previous owners.

“I was more than willing to put in the work to create my own reputation for being a hardworking, honorable businessperson in my own right,” Gutterman said.  “To overcome this, I have had to learn to build my confidence and overcome my negative self-talk, or as I like to call it, ‘head trash.’”

The communal, consensus-building qualities encouraged in young girls can leave women unintentionally downplaying their own worth. Molly MacDonald, founder and CEO of The Mobile Locker Co., a startup that provides personal storage for events, said she has always found it difficult to convey her own worth as a leader.

“When I talk about the company … I always find myself saying ‘we’ instead of ‘I,'” MacDonald said. “I know I have fallen into this pattern for two reasons: Using the first person to discuss successes feels to me as if I’m bragging, and I cannot shake the idea that if someone knows it’s just me in control, the value of what we do will go down. As I grow the business, I am making an effort to own what I’ve accomplished.”

Sharon Rowlands, CEO of digital marketing firm ReachLocal, agreed that confidence is the key to success, even when you’re up against a boardroom full of men. Rowlands noted that when she was a newly appointed CEO, she often felt her ideas received more scrutiny than those from her male colleagues. However, she didn’t let that discourage her from being a great business leader.

Forty-eight percent of female founders report that a lack of available advisers and mentors limits their professional growth, according to Inc.

“With the majority of the high-level business world still being dominated by men, it can be hard to blaze your own path and facilitate the introductions and connections into some of the more elite business networks,” said Hanson, who established the Hera Hub co-working space to foster support and collaboration among female entrepreneurs. “As most of business today still rings true with the philosophy that ‘It’s not what you know; it’s who you know,’ this can be a huge factor in your ultimate success.”

Knowing where to find the right support network isn’t always easy. A few good places to start include women-focused networking events — such asWomancon, Women in Technology Summit and WIN Conferences— as well as online forums and groups created specifically for women in business, such asEllevate Network.

Work-life balance is a goal of many entrepreneurs regardless of their gender, but mothers who start businesses have to simultaneously run their families and their companies. And in this area, traditional gender expectations often still prevail.

“Being a mother while running a business is very challenging,” Genga said. “There are ways to balance your time, but the perception is that you could be more effective running your business if you didn’t have to deal with kids.”

Genga said she has learned not to take shortcomings on either front too seriously, and to not beat herself up over the little things, such as missing a class trip with her children.

According to Babson College’s 2012 Global Entrepreneur Monitor, the fear of failure is the top concern of women who launch startups. Failure is a very real possibility in any business venture, but Delia Passi, CEO of WomenCertified and founder of the Women’s Choice Award, said it shouldn’t be viewed as a negative.

“You need to have massive failure to have massive success,” Passi said. “You may need 100 ‘noes’ to get one ‘yes,’ but that one ‘yes’ will make you more successful tomorrow than you were today.”

Pierson offered similar advice for female entrepreneurs, encouraging them to work through the moments of self-doubt that every business owner faces.