Six takeaways from Microsoft’s ‘Your Office Your Terms Panel’ 2012

Earlier this week, I attended a panel discussion about women entrepreneurs at Microsoft’s office. Representatives from Women 2.0, Astia, 85 Broads, Women in Public Policy (WIPP) and National Association for Women Business Owners (NAWBO) talked about best practices and practical advice for women entrepreneurs at this “Your Office, Your Terms” cloud event. Sepideh Nasiri represented Women 2.0 on the informative panel.

I learned a lot about the challenges a woman could face when starting her own company, and how to be prepared for it.

Here my top 6 takeaways from the event:

  • Talk about your company and products in the present, not in the future – right from the start! Your company exists from the moment there is an idea. Literally fake it until you make it.

  • Thoroughly research the VCs you plan to approach. Find out whether they fund businesses like yours. Perfect your pitch before you meet them. There’s definitely a learning curve on how to craft your pitch well, but it’s not rocket science.

  • Research your potential competitors in detail. Find out what makes them successful. Your biggest customer might be your biggest competitor one day and vice versa.

  • Don’t be afraid to pitch your idea to anyone who will listen. The more you pitch, the more feedback you will receive. Don’t worry about someone stealing your idea – you will only improve your pitch with practice.

  • The biggest challenge for women entrepreneurs is themselves. Learn to sculpt your language to be positive, and start a healthy pattern early.

  • Get the right people on the bus. Technology has to be your friend if you want to be competitive today. Make sure someone on your A-team is the technologist if you aren’t.

The panel also shed light on their respective organizations and what they do to help women entrepreneurs:

The Q&A session that followed exposed typical problems women entrepreneurs face when they approach VCs, and how to handle them.

Above all, I learnt that if you really want to start a company, there are various organizations that can help you through the process. Aim for the stars, dream big, and believe in yourself!

 This post was originally published in Women2.0’s blog here