From seeking out sound advice to incorporating new technologies, there are numerous things that women entrepreneurs in Latin America can do to begin and prevail in business. Ann Puig, a successful business owner and philanthropist from Costa Rica, has dedicated her life to developing businesses and shares some of the more important keys to success that have helped her along the way.
A strong, knowledgeable coach or mentor is a business person’s greatest weapon. A coach provides guidance and training on the most proficient method to begin and scale a business. He or she will also lead and provide credibility as the entrepreneur is introduced to new, beneficial contacts. For some, business visionaries beginning their first venture, coaches help explore what may appear to be unfavorable obstructions. “A coach can disclose to you what you ought to do,” explains Puig. “A connector, on the other hand, is someone who believes in your capabilities and will connect you to those that can benefit you the most. It’s a great way to open doors you may have otherwise not expected. This is especially vital in business where female entrepreneurs have historically had less access to solid systems, a key factor in an entrepreneur’s success.”
Educational programs and accelerators can provide targeted support to entrepreneurs. These programs are invaluable tools to learn the fundamentals on raising capital, creating strategies and compensation models, as well as for scaling businesses. The programs can also help expand the business networks and make new contacts that can support the growth of the company. The accelerators can also provide funding and guidance on a global level that otherwise would never be possible.
Conquering an absence of access to capital is pivotal for an entrepreneur’s prosperity, particularly for female entrepreneurs. “Without capital you can’t prepare to stun the world, you can’t develop,” says Puig. As per an International Finance Corporation report, organizations led by women pull in under 5% of investment finances globally, obstructing high-impact development for promising plans of action. Further, up to 70% of small- and medium-sized businesses that are owned by women in Latin America and the Caribbean indicate that their credit needs are either underserved or not served at all, according to the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF). The MIF also shows that less than a third of all females across the region had money saved in a bank or other financial institution.
Puig also emphasizes the importance of remaining stubborn in the face of societal gender norms. It is crucial that women push back on these norms and work to overcome them. There is pressure on the women to stay at home instead of trying to excel in the business world, but this belief needs to change. “Guys, they’ll get hitched and simply start their careers when they’re 30,” Puig points out. “The inverse true for women. Whatever men can do, we can do – and usually do better. Don’t fall victim to the stereotypes and stay firm to your beliefs.”
One of the most successful ways to spread the word about a startup or business is with social media. “Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram can be powerful marketing tools,” explains Puig. “However, female entrepreneurs have to be more aggressive and constantly show what they are doing to progress the enterprise. A solid, updated and professional LinkedIn profile, for example, can say a lot about who you are as a person and how dedicated you are to the business.” Unfortunately, women are sometimes less active and less aggressive in showcasing themselves and their companies. Habitually, the social media circles center on families and friends, but, as Puig stresses, it’s imperative to keep professional profiles and personal relations separate.
There is an entire paradigm shift that is seeing more female entrepreneurs not only launch their own endeavors, but perform better than men. This trend will only continue and will ultimately level the playing field between the sexes. Those that truly want to succeed, however, will only do so by following the advice of the experts that have already walked down the path.