Stephanie Cronin Summers Photography

When you start a business, a really important task is to get to know your audience. At the very simplest of levels, are they male or female? How old are they? Where do they live? Why might they buy from you? But to dig a little deeper, what are their pain points? What are their likes and dislikes? How do they like to receive content? And so on. And like all fledgling businesses, when we started Tabono, we developed a detailed set of customer personas, all focussed on female small business owners.

But the thing is, the key to a useful set of customer personas is to review them. And review them regularly. For example, do they match the traffic that’s actually coming to your website? Engaging on your social media? And most importantly, do the attributes and assumptions captured in your personas reflect your actual customers?

Luckily, our own personas are accurate, but even so, thinking about them this week, led me to a bigger question. Who actually are female small business owners? Working with our wonderful clients and members of our community every day shows us just how brilliant, and hugely inspiring, they are. And it’s a privilege to support each and every one of them. Here are just a few of the things we’ve learned along the way:

1) They are all different

One of the wonderful things about female small business owners is that they are all different. They may work in similar industries or even offer similar services. But no single female small business owner is the same as another. Our own community contains women in the early stages of their career, and women who are retired. Women with children, and those without. Military wives. Single parents. Franchise owners. Part-time entrepreneurs. Owners of multiple businesses. Thought leaders. But all of them experts in, and passionate about, doing what they do. And unique in doing it in their own way.

2) They are incredibly resilient

Resilience. Women have always been considered resilient, but to me, this has never been more obvious than during the current pandemic. They are struggling to balance caring responsibilities, home-schooling and running their businesses along with many other tasks. And those who have been unable to trade in their normal way, or had to close completely, have faced a level of challenge that is even greater still. But every single one has shown an incredible level of resilience.

Some have changed the way they deliver their services, and in some cases, the nature of the services themselves. Others learned new skills to allow them to expand their offerings. Jane from Warren Beauty, a member of our own community, is a great example. She introduced beautiful gift boxes when her beauty business had to temporarily close, and continues to innovate today. They all have good days and they all have bad days, but every one of them is strong. And their sense of resilience means that they are all determind to bounce back from whatever circumstances they face.

3) They are brave

Another thing that I’ve learned about female small business owners is that they are incredibly brave. We have seen so many who have been prepared to not only try new things, but catapult themselves out of their comfort zones in order to support their businesses. For example, Katie from Spirit & Grace Style and Karen from Inspire My Soul show up, LIVE, on social media day after day after day. Others have set themselves huge goals despite the pandemic and followed these up with both the determination and plans to succeed. And of course, huge respect must be shown to those who have started a business during the pandemic!

So whatever their story. Whatever their business and their dreams or challenges. These women are brave. They show up every day. And they make each day count.

4) They are all making a difference

At the moment, my 7 year old and I are reading Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World, and both she and I are finding it hugely interesting and inspiring. But you don’t need to make scientific discoveries or campaign for change at national or global level to make a difference. Daisy from Very Vanilla brings beauty (and great taste!) through her cakes and dessert tables, along with an Instagram feed that is guaranteed to make you hungry! Caroline at Sew Caroline and Karen at Bags It’s Mine bring joy through the items they make. Sally, Emma and Lindsay help other businesses and their teams to be a better version of themselves. All of them make a difference to the people they work with and for,no matter what their industry. Every day.

5) They want each other to succeed, just as much as themselves

We hear the word ‘tribe’ used a lot. To me, a tribe is a group of people who have each other’s backs. But not just at a superficial level. Instead, a tribe represents to me, an understanding that the success of the group as a whole is more desirable, than the success of lone members. And in our experience, when female small business owners get together, they form exactly this. A tribe. Or a team. And as they say, there’s no ‘I’ in TEAM.

We see this every day through our community. There’s no ‘I do this, and I do that’. There are no overt selling or pushy posts. Instead, a member might say that they are hosting a discussion on Clubhouse, for example, for the first time. And you can guarantee that other members will attend to cheer them on. They refer each other without any obligation, request or requirement from us. Doing it instead, because they genuinely want to help. They offer help and a listening ear when times are tough. And praise and celebration flows quickly and easily when successes are shared.

This, to me, is pretty amazing. And when you work on your own, knowing that you’re doing so with a genuine tribe behind you, is a huge deal.

So when you think of female small business owners, what do they look like to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. And if you would like to hear more about this very topic, check out our resident photography expert (and Tabono brand photographer!), Stephanie’s ’28 Stories’ – coming this February! You might even catch the Tabono story being featured there too!