Female entrepreneurship is at an all-time high, with more than 200 million female-led companies worldwide. The industries targeted by female entrepreneurs differ from those targeted by men. Consumer-driven startups account for 68 percent of those led by female entrepreneurs.
This may be because women have mastered one key factor in that sector: building relationships with consumers.
Founders who emphasize listening to and caring about consumer opinions as part of their core business beliefs are better equipped to adapt with the market. When female entrepreneurs decide to build something, they do it with exceptional clarity about what their consumers want and need.
Three of these leaders, in particular, stand out as revolutionaries in their respective industries: Leura Fine of Laurel & Wolf, Moj Mahdara of Beautycon Media, and Alanna Gregory of Vive. Although each of these women work in different industries, the lessons that they’ve learned can be used to build superior consumer-driven companies.
Build With Heart and Numbers
When Fine was raising her first round of funding for Laurel & Wolf, some shortsighted investors were skeptical of an online interior design market. Fine, however, put forth a clear vision for the company and pushed back against the skepticism by clearly demonstrating that an online market for interior design did exist.
Not only did Fine prove that a market existed, but she also made great efforts to learn exactly what the desires of her customers were. Online style quizzes allowed her to explicitly detail how her product would function. By the final round of fundraising, Laurel & Wolf had raised $25.5 million in VC funding. The company’s value now reportedly exceeds $100 million.
If you’re aiming for a similar level of success, it’s imperative that you set your vision for the company on day one and continue through every objective that you have for your company. Understanding exactly what consumers want out of a company in your scope will help improve the product or service that you’re providing. Knowing where you want your company to go and having a deep understanding of your consumer will only inspire others to join you.
Grow With Influencers by Your Side
Once you’ve convinced investors, you need to build a strong foundation of consumers — and that’s not an endeavor to take on alone. To say that Mahdara singlehandedly turned Beautycon Media into a consumer-facing brand would be slightly misleading. Mahdara credits content creators with playing a pivotal role in developing her brand’s audience.
Partnering with social media influencers allowed Mahdara to turn a quarterly festival into a global community. The week of Beautycon Festival Los Angeles , Beautycon trended globally on both Instagram and Twitter, Even companies as world-renowned as Nike are acknowledging that social media influencers may even be more beneficial to the bottom line than traditional celebrity endorsements.
Finding an appropriate and effective social media influencer may seem daunting, but learn from Mahdara’s experience: Look at various content creators in your industry, and see whether their content is relevant to your message. Once you find an influencer you believe speaks to your audience, measure his or her engagement, and level how this can be beneficial to what you’re attempting to achieve.
Does the content receive a lot of comments, shares, and likes? For example, Bunny Meyer –better known by the Youtube handle grav3yardgirl– is a YouTube personality with 7.1 million subscribers — a valuable influencer to have speaking on behalf of a brand. If influencers are sharing and commenting on products or services with a personal story, they aren’t just pushing a product; they’re pushing a lifestyle. Viewers will respond to the authenticity and be more trusting of your brand.
Know Consumers May Bring Change — and Embrace It
Once your brand has a solid following, you might think that changing an initial function of your product would be detrimental. However, Gregory did just that. Gregory altered how her customers could use her company’s salon blowout services, dropping unlimited subscriptions and changing her pricing model, which helped Gregory develop Vive into a go-to service.
Gregory conducted focus groups and tracking data to really pinpoint the wants of her clients. Instead of booking appointments ahead of time, 44 percent of women were decided to get a blowout the same day and 26 percent the day after. With this information in hand, Gregory was able to make the proper decisions to shift Vive into a more sustainable business.
The pivot in pricing and scheduling felt natural to Gregory’s customers because she was responding to consumer information. Investors also heavily agreed with her decision, and Vive closed a new seed funding round with $2.3 million.
A true consumer-facing business means living and breathing in the same community as your consumers. A revolutionary founder knows what products or services are needed because he or she is actively listening to consumers. To do the same, cultivate the ability to listen and pivot based on consumer trends.
Engage with your business’s consumers in creative ways. Build authentic connections with your audience through social media influencers, and don’t be afraid of change. Instead, control it with data-driven decisions. Above all, let yourself be inspired by other entrepreneurs who are revolutionizing their industries.