Enterprise Europe Network adviser Mari Kivinen based in Turku Science Park, Finland, has been helping Finnish entrepreneurs Miia Liesegang and Taina Tallala at Belightful Design, to bring their ecological designs to an international market. Women entrepreneurs represent a third of the self-employed in the EU, but what does it take to grow internationally? Mari, Miia and Taina share their top five tips for international success.
1. Increase and diversify your networks
Today, networking is not just about meeting face-to-face at events. It's also about engaging and sharing your ideas and experiences across your social media networks. Smart networkers integrate both routes into their business strategy. Social networks for women entrepreneurs are developing rapidly and often provide links to networking events.
But don't put all your eggs in one basket! Explore the range of channels out there that are the best match for you and for your product or service and be strategic about where and how you invest your time. Organisations supporting women entrepreneurs include:
Women's business initiative
Women in Tech
2. Bring forward your brilliance
Don't be backward in coming forward! There are a growing number of initiatives and awards at national and international level that now focus on celebrating women's achievements in business. Awards not only recognise hard work and success, they can also provide a powerful independent endorsement that can attract business partners or investors. Did you think about these?
EU Prize for Women Innovators
Women Startup Competition
3. Get a fresh perspective
Mentors and coaches can provide invaluable advice and help you look at problems and situations from a different perspective. Small businesses who successfully apply for the EU's SME Instrument funding benefit from business coaching and the Enterprise Europe Network helps the companies to select the right coach for them. But any business can seek out mentors and coaches to help them get on the right track. For women entrepreneurs who are specifically seeking advice from other women entrepreneurs, The European Network of Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs was established in 2011 to provide advice and support to women either starting up or wanting to expand their businesses.
4. Keep learning
Invest time in expanding your knowledge can help you develop new business ideas and stay ahead of the curve. Today's technology means that you don't need to travel the globe to follow courses or learn new skills. Webcasts and webinars mean that you can learn in the comfort of your own home at any time. Many universities and business schools now offer online courses and WEgate has collated a range of webcasts and webinars for women entrepreneurs.
5. Get advice you can trust
There are many organisations and networks out there that offer advice and support to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
Enterprise Europe Network – helps small businesses innovate and grow internationally. It includes around twenty advisers across Europe, led by Sanja Popovic-Pantic from Institut Mihajlo Pupin in Serbia, who are focused on helping women entrepreneurs succeed.
The WEgate platform – is a one-stop shop for women of all ages who want to start, run and grow a business. A great place to explore!
The European Community of Women Business Angels and women entrepreneurs –helps women entrepreneurs access alternative sources of funding. The network was created in 2017, by means of 4 projects covering 14 EU countries.