Leadership and confidence are the two characteristics female entrepreneurs believe they need to succeed, according to a new KPMG study. Specifically, 83 percent of the female entrepreneurs and business owners surveyed think leadership is the most critical trait for a business founder or CEO to possess, while 82 percent think it's confidence.
The other key attributes they deem important are:
"Building a company – and maintaining its success – takes confidence, determination and the ability to take risks," Lee Anne Sciambra, managing partner of KPMG LLP's New Orleans office and leader of the Houston Business Unit Private Markets Group, said in a statement. "Women entrepreneurs who are able to take these traits and combine them with a strategic vision for their business will not only capitalize on today's climate of disruption, but they will be the disruptors themselves."
In addition, women also believe they have to work hard, persevere through tough times, be able to make smart hires and have supportive family and friends in order to create a successful business. [Female Entrepreneurs Share Startup Advice for Women ]
Building a thriving business isn't without some growing pains. The biggest challenges the women surveyed said they faced when building their companies were:
- Hiring the right people
- Time management
- Managing cash flow through lean times and/or to fund additional growth
- Developing sales forecasts and hitting those targets
- Creating the right technology infrastructure
- Access to cash/credit/funding
- Deciding whether a change of direction is needed
- Attracting customers and building market share
- Dealing with licensing, regulatory and other bureaucratic requirements
- Developing a strategy and executing it successfully
"Building a company is a multifaceted challenge that is not for the faint of heart," the study's authors wrote. " No wonder they say hard work, perseverance and a willingness to take risks matter most to their success."
When starting a business, women shouldn't be hesitant to turn to others, especially other women, for advice. The study revealed that 95 percent of female entrepreneurs who either launched their own startup company, or hold a leadership position in a startup company, think that having an informal adviser or mentor was a key factor to their success.
In addition, nearly 80 percent of female entrepreneurs feel that having another woman as their adviser or mentor made a significant impact on their career.
Brian Hughes, national leader of KPMG LLP's Private Markets Group, said having a mentor can be a huge benefit for an entrepreneur.
"The key is to identify the right person and develop an open and honest dialogue about what you both hope to get out of the relationship," Hughes said. "By building a rapport and having regular cadence with a mentor, entrepreneurs can learn valuable information and advice that will help them on their paths to success."
The study was based on surveys of 204 women founders, CEOs and owners from the Inc. 5000 list representing the fastest-growing private companies in the United States.