The 8 Best Ways To Protect Yourself As A Woman In Business

Being a woman in business isn’t easy. A report by the Women@Work initiative revealed that female entrepreneurs receive significantly less funding than their male counterparts. And those who do get funding receive substantially less on average. There is any number of legitimate reasons for these discrepancies, but they’re still discrepancies all the same.  

Women have to work harder to prove themselves in business than men do. They must be more assertive, resilient, and creative about operating as business owners. If you’re planning on starting your own company or need guidance on the one you already own, read on for some strategies for protecting yourself as a woman in business.

Get Insurance

While it might not seem intuitive initially, getting proper insurance can help protect you in several ways. First and foremost, it can provide you with the financial resources you’ll need to mount a robust legal defense if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to file a lawsuit. There’s also property and liability coverage that can help protect you if someone sues you for damage or injury on your property. Or if you accidentally injure someone and are sued as a result.

There are more obscure protections like key person insurance that are worth looking into. But what is key person insurance? Well, it provides a payout if a critical team member dies. This is invaluable if you have a small team where every person is an essential cog in the machine. 

Lock Down Your Intellectual Property

Part of protecting your business involves safeguarding your intellectual property or IP. This can mean registering trademarks and copyrights, or it can mean obtaining a patent. If you’re developing an entirely new product, product line, or service, a patent can help you to avoid being ripped off by other companies who try to pass off your designs as their own. It can also help you generate revenue more quickly than without one. 

If you’re creating a new brand or product line, you’ll also want to register your trademarks, which can help avoid having your designs stolen by other companies. You’ll also want to register your copyrights for any unique designs or written works you incorporate into your brand or products.

Create A Protective Company Structure

Every phase of a business’s lifecycle needs protecting. If you’re starting a new business, especially if you’re dealing in creative or innovative fields, you may want to consider creating an LLC or a corporation. LLCs offer a certain level of legal protection for the assets inside them, and corporations give you the ability to issue stock and make shares that can be traded on the open market. 

While the latter can provide you with a decent amount of capital, it also comes with more regulations, extra taxes, and added restrictions on who can own shares and how they can be purchased and sold. The former can help you protect yourself from personal liability if someone sues your company. If you lose the suit, the damages don’t come out of your pocket. Instead, they come out of the company’s pocket, which is also why you want to ensure that your company is adequately insured.

Diversify Your Operating Team

This one might not be obvious, but it’s essential. If you work in a field that’s dominated by men or you work for a company that has a primarily male management team, you’re more likely to face sexual harassment or discrimination. If you can, try to diversify your operating team with women. Hire them, partner with them, and bring them on as advisers. The more women you have with you in your business, the more support you’ll have from your peers. Moreover, women tend to be more collaborative than men, which can be a good thing for your company’s culture overall.

Establish Collaborative Relationships

If you’re entering into a partnership of any kind, whether with a financial investor or with another business owner, try to make your relationship as collaborative as possible. If the person with whom you’re partnering wants to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), make sure you read it thoroughly and look for ways it could harm your company. 

If the person wants you to sign a joint-venture agreement but doesn’t provide you with a copy, ensure you get one. If a financial investor wants you to sign a contract with terms that seem unfair, don’t sign it. Suppose you create collaborative relationships with the people in your life. In that case, they’re less likely to try to take advantage of you or manipulate you into doing things that are harmful to your business.

Determine The Real Value Of Your Product Or Service

If you’re creating a product or service, you might feel a desire to charge as little as possible for it. This problem is that you may be undervaluing your product or service. Even if what you’re selling is a low-cost item, it still has value. It still takes time and energy to create, and it still takes marketing to sell it. 

If someone wants to buy it, they should be willing to pay a fair price. If you don’t charge what your product or service is worth, someone else will. You’ll lose money on each sale, and you may even lose customers. In many cases, you can also use your product or service to negotiate with others. If you want to partner with another company but can’t afford to pay for their services, offer to exchange your product or service for theirs.

Demand Transparency

If you’re entering into any kind of partnership or joint venture with someone, make sure you know their financial situation. You don’t want to end up partnering with someone unable to pay their bills or handle their responsibilities. And you don’t want to be responsible for that, either. 

If you need a loan, make sure that you know the terms of the loan and that your lender is transparent about the terms. If you need customers, make sure that you know where they’re coming from and that you have a contract with them. If you’re dealing with a contractor, ensure they have all their permits and licenses. If you’re working with a financial investor, make sure that they have all of their financial documentation in order.

Don’t Be Afraid To Shake Things Up

If you’re just starting out in business and don’t have a ton of clients yet, now is a great time to shake things up. Find ways to shake your company out of its lull and get people talking about it again. This can be as simple as hosting a lunch and learn event where you invite a few people who might be interested in what you do. 

If you’re already running a successful operation, shake things up, too. If you’ve been doing the same old thing for a long time, shake things up. Shake up your work schedule. Shake up who does what. Shake up your company’s culture.

Most importantly, shake up your communication with customers. It’s easy to get into a routine of sending out the same old email newsletter every month. Shake up your communication by sending something out once a week instead. Or once a day. Or once every few hours. Whatever you do, shake it up.

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