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Tactics of the Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Businesses

Habits of the Top Performers:

  1. Emphasize team mindset
  2. See gender as an asset
  3. Tap financing for growth and improvement
  4. Seek expert sources of financial advice
  5. Lean on technology to gain efficiencies
  6. Prioritize fast invoicing and collections
  7. Constantly monitor what’s ahead

By Citizens Bank Staff

Launching and running a business takes resilience, focus, and grit. It’s no surprise, then, that in a recent Citizens Bank survey, nearly three-quarters of women business owners credited their determination and drive for their company’s success.

Yet the most successful* entrepreneurs draw on certain strategies and mindsets to gain and keep an advantage. Here’s what sets them apart.

1. Reliance on outside support

Women at the helm of the fastest-growing companies recognize that it takes a team to sustain success. In fact, the top performers in the survey were nearly four times as likely as their peers to credit support from a mentor, advisor, or peer group for their success. 

2. A perception of gender as a strength

Compared to their counterparts at other companies, nearly twice as many owners of fast-growing businesses say that being a woman has helped fuel their success. Some say it makes it easier to gain trust and forge strong bonds with clients; others say their gender has driven them to work harder.

3. A strategic approach to financing

Nearly three-quarters of the fastest-growing women-owned companies currently have some form of financing in place, compared with around just 30% of their peers. The most successful firms are also twice as likely as others to use financing to invest in growth and improvements and manage cash flow fluctuations.

4. Go-to sources of financial advice

Nearly 90% of the leaders of the top-performing female-owned businesses lean on good sources of financial guidance. This is compared to around three-quarters of their peers. Online research, an accountant, and networking connections are just a few of the resources the most successful owners rely on to keep their companies healthy.

5. An emphasis on efficiency

Owners of the fastest-growing firms use technology to streamline money management and gain clearer insights into their financial position. Leading tools include:

  • Digital banking: Top-performing businesses are 35% more likely to use online banking and nearly 25% more likely to use online bill pay than their counterparts. They’re also nearly 60% more likely to bank via their mobile phones.
  • Financial software: More than 30% fast growers use QuickBooks Online, Zoho Books, and similar programs than other companies. They are also three times as likely to use integrated software suites such as QuickBooks Desktop, Microsoft Dynamics, and SAP to tie together sales, financing, and other parts of their company.

6. Sound invoicing practices

The most successful business owners know that efficient payment collection is essential for healthy cash flow. The fastest-growing companies are 60% more likely than others to bill customers promptly upon completion of a project or delivery of a product or service. They’re also twice as likely to offer discounts to encourage fast payment and to accept payment options that offer quicker access to cash, such as credit cards, cash, PayPal®, and mobile payment. The reasons are simple: When it’s easier for customers to pay, they’re more likely to make purchases and pay more quickly.

An expanded mix of payment options can pay off via:

  • Stronger cash flow: Accepting credit cards and peer-to-peer payments (e.g., PayPal and Venmo) provides fast access to funds. The Citizens Bank survey found that 56% more of the fastest-growing businesses accept credit cards and PayPal than do their counterparts who are not anticipating revenue growth.  
  • More sales: Mobile wallet payments, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, appeal to customers who want to tap their phones to pay. Use of mobile payments is growing rapidly, so accepting them could give you a competitive edge. Fast-growing businesses accept mobile wallet payments at nine times the rate of other companies, the survey showed.
  • Repeat business: Providing multiple payment options lets customers pay in the way that’s most convenient for them. That may tip the balance in your favor when customers are choosing between your business and a competitor.
  • Reduced fraud risk: Checks are still the payment method most often targeted by fraudsters, according to the Association for Financial Professionals. Decreasing reliance on check payments and accepting other methods instead can help to lessen this risk. The widespread adoption of chip cards, for instance, has made credit card acceptance more secure.

7. A steady eye on the future

Top-performing business owners know that continued success depends on the ability to spot opportunities and challenges ahead. In the Citizens Bank survey, the heads of the fastest-growing businesses were three times as likely as their counterparts who do not expect revenue growth this year to maintain focus on sales to avoid cash shortfalls. Fast growers are also more likely to closely monitor cash flow to identify potential trouble spots, allowing them time to correct course.

*The terms “most successful,” “top-performing,” and “fastest-growing” refer to women-owned businesses in the Citizens Bank survey that expect revenue growth of 10% or more in 2019 vs. 2018.

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