By Nina B. Ries (Founder & Principal, Ries Law Group)
As a business owner and as an attorney who works with a large variety of small to mid-sized businesses as clients, I come into contact with men and women business owners in a variety of industries. I have been impressed by a great number of women entrepreneurs I have represented. Their energy, drive and focus seem boundless. Their ideas and vision tend to be clear and well thought out.
Despite this, women can have a tendency to think small. They are sometimes inclined to take a “hobby” approach to their careers and businesses, putting other interests ahead of their own and minimizing the significance of their business, all of which can have the effect of stunting their business’s growth.
For instance, they may be less likely to incorporate their business, exposing them to personal liability. They can be slow to seek legal assistance, operating for months or years before speaking with an attorney about formation issues, contracts, non-disclosure agreements and their operations, all of which can cost them time and money, and some of which may unnecessarily expose them to serious risk. (Unfortunately, this is an area where what you don’t know can cost you dearly – including what you don’t even know to ask!)
Women may be more reluctant to accept their success, which can result in delays in hiring staff, unnecessarily increasing their stress levels and the pressure on them as business owners.
And, due to their generous nature, women can also inadvertently leave too much on the table by failing to negotiate deal terms, giving away too much for free, by overpaying for goods or services, or by sharing information when they would be wise to protect it from competitors.
Given that their ideas tend to be so strong, women would be wise to remain confident, and blaze forward with an expectation of success. They should establish their business not just for the day, but with the 5-year, 10-year and 20-year plans in mind.
Women should affirmatively seek out the advice and counsel of an attorney, and install an informal advisory board to help with growth. They should be prepared to accept success once they see it, and hire employees or install systems to get the work done more quickly, more efficiently, and with less expense so they can continue focusing on the business (and getting more of it).
While relevant to all business owners, women in particular should take measures to protect their company’s proprietary information, particularly where that information gives them a competitive edge.
Finally, women should be mindful that negotiation is expected in all business dealings, and should not hesitate to ask for a better deal or different terms.
The foregoing is provided for informational purposes only, is not an advertisement, does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The content may not apply to the specific facts or a particular matter. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
Women 2.0 readers: What do you think women should do to reach the top? Let us know in the comments!
About the guest blogger: Nina B. Ries is Founder and Principal at Ries Law Group in Santa Monica, California. She brings extensive experience in business litigation to her clients. She has litigated a variety of complex matters and countless cases involving breaches of a variety of contracts, business torts, 17200 claims, real estate disputes, employment matters, class action defense and intellectual property (including trademark, trade secret and unfair competition) on behalf of entrepreneurs, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies.