Thursday, 22 January 2009

Women Entrepreneurs & Networks in Sweden & Stockholm

Went to the Venture Cup Inspiration For Women night last night and was truly inspired. I heard just what I need to hear and picked up a few ideas, some food for thought. The two speakers were Karin, founder of Grooming - Sweden's only grooming company aimed exclusively at men, and Caroline, co-founder of FUNtasi Fabriken whose goal is to bring dance to the people.

It is always interesting and inspiring to listen to others who have started a business and share their experiences - the good and the bad. And with only about 33% of Venture Cup applicants being women the organisation does what it can to encourage more to enter the competition and these women shared their thoughts about the difference between men and women in business.

Karin advised us to be clear in our communication, rather than talk around things as women often do. She also suggested that women are better at building relationships, and that this is something we can benefit from. She then went on to offer three very simple, practical, yet valuable pieces of advice:
  1. ask questions and opinions and listen to those around you, but most importantly, listen to yourself
  2. use your own network - talk to the people you know, rather than running around town mingling at different events and building up a very superficial network
  3. have patience and perserverance. It takes much longer than you think it is going to. Hang in there - it is the same for everyone!
Caroline suggested we
  1. have plans, long term and short term, but have a long term goal.
  2. picture a number of potential scenarios right from the beginning and have a plan for how you will deal with them, that way there are no surprises.
Both before and after the speeches there was time for mingling. It is not that easy to stand amongst a bunch of strangers and mingle, in fact I don't enjoy it at all and I find it SO much harder to do in Swedish. So I was quite pleased to hear advice point number 2 and I go to these events mostly to hear the speakers - it really helps keep me motivated and focused on what I am doing.

There are a ton of business networks and organisations around and while many of them have events aimed exclusively at women, there are also a number of women-only networks around. If you too need inspiration and motivation, want a place to seek advice or companionship or are just curious about what others are up to, check out the following links:

Carpe Competencia - Sweden's biggest network for young academic women.
Driftig - Sweden's biggest online network for women who want to or have started their own business.
Kvinnliga Företagare - online meeting place for women in business.
Shenet - a network for women who want more out of their working life, bringing focus to female stars in business and inspiring others.
Göran - a network for women who want to share experience and advice on how to achieve balance in their personal and professional life.
KvinnorKan - an organisation promoting equal rights, obligations and opportunities for men and women.

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