Although over 12 million businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, they only make up 30% of the technology world as either employees or business owners. 13% of women owned companies have been in business for more than 20 years and 47% of women owned businesses are owned by women of color, and ARMA Inc. is one of them. The percentage of women that are not CEOs barely rise to 17% and of the 41 Fortune 500 tech companies only five are headed by women. However some of the smaller tech companies and start ups are flourishing and may just tip the scale by 2020. This is a glimmer of promise for women in the tech field. Women cannot run a technology company like men do, and that is a wonderful attribute to have. Instead of taking a conquering approach, women are open to learn, regard their teams’ talents, and take calculated risks that will benefit the company’s growth.
As a minority woman-owned small business the landscape for women in technology was nearly non-existent 30 years ago and although we have grown substantially we have a long way to go. In 1990 as a fresh Black face in IT I you didn’t see a lot of women that looked like me in the business After being deciding to take the leap and start my owned business, leaving behind the security of a paycheck every two weeks, the idea of becoming an independent contractor was terrifying. However, I took the risk and received my first $25k contract that bloomed into a successful business for the last 29 years.
In the beginning, I wish that I understood the importance of relationships and tribe building when it came to growing my business. I thought it was far more important to keep your head down, work hard and always and I mean always focus on your customer. I worked hard to cultivate relationships with my clients, community, and my valued employees to expand successfully. I had to treat them as if they were a family member who deserved attention and regard for their needs and aspirations. However, the most important lesson was to let go of control. Which meant I could not be super woman all the time, I had to ask for help, be open, and transform opportunities into success.
THE WOMAN’S CODE
1. Get a mentor: Women can have a lot of gumption but there is more to be learned about how to navigate the ever-changing landscape of Technology. Statistically women who receive mentoring from either a man or woman within their field were equally successful. Seek out someone who is where you want to be and be open to learn.
2. Create a culture of learning and growth: Since technology rapidly evolves as a business owner you must be open to change, nurturing that change with intent studying, and using it to grow as an individual and company.
3. Give back to your community: STEM/STEAM non-profit organizations are blooming, especially for women of color interested in IT. What better way to make an investment into possible future employees or entrepreneurs than to have your staff reach out to teach youth about how to code. This puts the company and individual ahead of the next curve, because the youth may be discussing possible changes they want to see and provide the seedling of a new venture.
4. Investment means growth: Speaking of investing, sometimes investment comes in form of risks. Taking the time to go after a contract that you know the company can do, even if not everything lines up in skill, can be the best choice. It forces the company to get up training, expand their expertise, and improve moral by achieving a new challenge together. Investing in your people is critical to the success of your company.
5. Take it one day at a time: Make your plans, set your goals, leave room for surprises and process every day as something new because it is. There will be good and bad surprises and while being ready for anything is proper planning, the small margin for error can tip the scale in another direction. Be open.
Women can not and will not run a business like man, because she is not built like man, and that is a wonderful thing because our code for success is written differently.