By: Brett Lindenberg
A lot of progress has been made over the past few decades by female entrepreneurs, yet the running of businesses remains a predominantly male dominated sport. One example, the cover of Entrepreneur magazine has been graced by just three women from January 2011 – July 2012. During this same period a total of eleven issues have featured men.
Full disclosure: I’m a guy. I probably fit nicely into Entrepreneur magazines demographic too. I’m 30, work in corporate America, and dream of operating a business of my own full time. To be completely forthright about myself, I more naturally gravitate to stories on male entrepreneurs. In other words, I get why the magazine would highlight more men than women. I don’t believe it’s sexist. I think the formula simply works for their target market.
And while I naturally relate more with men, I worry there are valuable insights I’m missing out on. As a result, I decided to conduct my own research on each of the three women featured on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine over the last 18-months. These maidens of capitalism include: Barbara Corcoran, Marlo Scott, and Erica Zidel. In this article I will highlight the most important lesson learned based on my research on each of these women and share some of most valuable advice I think every testosterone-filled male entrepreneur should take note of.
Exhibit 1: Barbara Corcoran
Key Lesson: Shoot the Dogs Early
I’ve been familiar with real-estate mogul Barbara Corcoran for about a year now due to ABC’s “Shark Tank.” On the television program Corcoran comes off as a tough cookie that has been through the ringer more than once over her business career. Still she remains likeable, funny, in addition to a straight shooter that’s not afraid to call it as she sees it, which I like.
Corcoran has a personal mantra she refers to as “Shoot the Dogs Early.” As the owner of a real estate business, every six months she would fire the lowest 25% of performers on her sales team. Corcoran believes that if a sales person is not successful and making the company money after six months on the job, the chance that these team members will come around and become an asset to her company is around one in a million. In other words, it ain’t very likely.
Holding employees accountable to high expectations allowed Corcoran to quickly filter through sales staff quickly to identify the rock stars that would build her business. To watch Corcoran explain this concept in her own words at the Inc. Women’s Summit, click here.
Exhibit 2: Marlo Scott
Key Lesson: Be Strategic in Getting the Word Out
Marlo Scott is the April, 2011 cover woman for Entrepreneur magazine. Scott has a great personal success story, turning a corporate layoff into her opportunity to start a cupcake shop with a twist. But what makes Scott truly unique is not her personal journey to business ownership; it’s her ability to consistently garner national coverage from shows like Martha Stewart Living and the Today Show. Not bad for a cupcake business with only one location.
But it wasn’t dumb luck that got Scott press. It was hard work combined with a distinct concept. 1.) She had an angle that naturally attracted attention by merging cupcakes with booze in an adult setting. 2.) She reached out directly to influencers. One example is when she emailed the general account for the Time Out New York website. About 30 minutes after hitting send she received a call requesting cupcakes be brought to Time Out headquarters and she received a Critic’s Pick not long after that as a result. To learn more about Scott’s advice on getting the word out, click here.
Exhibit 3: Erica Zidel
Key Lesson: Don’t Wait for Investment, Start Now!
Erica Zidel is the fresh face of December, 2011’s Entrepreneur magazine and CEO of the babysitting co-op website Sitting Around. Instead of waiting for investment capital or loans like many entrepreneurs starting out, Zidel invests her evenings and weekends getting her business off the ground.
Zidel outlines some of the benefits of starting a business before quitting your job. These upsides include not having to live like a monk, not needing to take on debt, and having more control over the vision of the business since investors or board members aren’t influencing decision making. Staying out of debt and giving yourself a longer runaway to portability is great advice for any entrepreneur, male or female. To read Zidel’s featured article in Entrepreneur magazine, click here.
About the Author
Brett Lindenberg is the author of this post. He writes regularly about micro-entrepreneurship and developing personal income streams at 500aMonth.com. Check out his website and if you like what you read add him on Twitter too.