Here are highlights of my presentation:
The number of women-owned enterprises is now growing faster than the economy at large in many countries around the world. Women-owned firms comprise more than one quarter of businesses and are starting up in every industry sector. International trade offers new markets and new opportunities for businesses that can’t be ignored in this global environment.
With the cost in money, time and physical wear and tear of travel, communication and work projects will heavily depend on technology. This technology will need to address ways to find each other, get acquainted and build trust and actually carry out business.
However, these advancing technologies can not completely cut out personal interaction, especially for women who insert a lot of intuition and relationship-building into their business decisions. These factors are also more important in other cultures than they are in the U.S. culture, thus, technology will not take place of all face to face interaction, and using video on the internet will become standard operating procedure.
Women business owners, already good at collaboration, will find alliances to be of significant strategic advantage. A joint alliance, or teaming up, can provide an ideal and unique alternative – to team up through a contractual agreement to provide services, yet stay independently owned and operated. Joining forces with the right partner in another country or continent can leverage power and increase financial stability, helping a small company to effectively compete in today's ever-changing marketplace. The rewards can include personal and professional growth, immediately strengthening and growing your visibility and marketing efforts, and expanding your eyes and ears out in the business arena.
Associations, organizations and technology sites that give women in business an opportunity to easily connect and build relationships will be key in the expansion of accessing international markets. (Such as www.connected-women.com) Although a social context is important for women to get to know each other and build a level of trust and respect, these entities will need to go beyond social events and business matchmaking. Women in business will demand more from these entities than gathering business cards, attending gala dinners and passing out awards.
It will be key for women to share resources and best practices and expand their networking arena to work together in important areas that impact women overall, such as policy, access to capital, communications, project management and leadership. Forums will need to be provided for education, discussion and carrying out work projects.
For example, training of even the most well-off and successful entrepreneurs in public relations and communication areas is vital. By combining leadership and communication training, women business owners can discover how the two go hand in hand and become skilled at using communications in a strategic manner. Women are historically reluctant to “toot their own horn” and share their triumphs, successes and inherent knowledge.
Government agencies worldwide, and in the United States, have historically focused their programs, trainings, funding and all forms of assistance at exporters of products, particularly manufacturing. Programs, trainings, financing, trade missions and other forms of assistance will need to focus more on women business owners, and even more specifically, service businesses. By reaching out to these specific sectors, governments should see exponential growth in export.