Pain Points: A Guide to Finding & Solving Your Customers’ Problems

Like belligerent seniors complaining about how the bad weather aggravates their arthritis, marketers always seem to be talking about pain points.

Customer pain points, 1-10 medical pain scale image, smiley face pain scale

Unlike a bum hip, however, the kind of pain points marketers typically encounter can be a little more complicated.

In this post, we’ll be diving into the world of customer pain points – specifically, what they are and how you can position your company as a potential solution. We’ll be taking a look at several real-world examples to see how marketers overcome some of the most common customer pain points, as well as general tips on how to make yourself indispensable to your prospects at the right time, in the right place.

Before we get to the examples, though, let’s start with the basics.

What Are Customer Pain Points?

A pain point is a specific problem that prospective customers of your business are experiencing. In other words, you can think of pain points as problems, plain and simple.

Customer pain points concept illustration

Like any problem, customer pain points are as diverse and varied as your prospective customers themselves. However, not all prospects will be aware of the pain point they’re experiencing, which can make marketing to these individuals difficult as you effectively have to help your prospects realize they have a problem and convince them that your product or service will help solve it.

Although you can think of pain points as simple problems, they’re often grouped into several broader categories. Here are the four main types of pain point:

  • Financial Pain Points: Your prospects are spending too much money on their current provider/solution/products and want to reduce their spend
  • Productivity Pain Points: Your prospects are wasting too much time using their current provider/solution/products or want to use their time more efficiently
  • Process Pain Points: Your prospects want to improve internal processes, such as assigning leads to sales reps or nurturing lower-priority leads
  • Support Pain Points: Your prospects aren’t receiving the support they need at critical stages of the customer journey or sales process

Viewing customer pain points in these categories allows you to start thinking about how to position your company or product as a solution to your prospects’ problems. For example, if your prospects’ pain points are primarily financial, you could highlight the features of your product within the context of a lower monthly subscription plan, or emphasize the increased ROI your satisfied customers experience after becoming a client.

However, while this method of categorization is a good start, it’s not as simple as identifying price as a pain point before pointing out that your product or service is cheaper than the competition. Many prospective customers’ problems are layered and complex, and may combine issues from several of our categories above. That’s why you need to view your customers’ pain points holistically, and present your company as a solution to not just one particularly problematic pain point, but as a trusted partner that can help solve a variety of problems.

How Do I Identify My Customers’ Pain Points?

Now that we know what pain points are, we need to figure out how to actually identify them.

Although many of your prospects are likely experiencing the same or similar pain points, the root cause of these pain points can be as diverse as your clientele. That’s why qualitative research is a fundamental part of identifying customer pain points.

The reason you need to conduct qualitative research (which focuses on detailed, individualized responses to open-ended questions) as opposed to quantitative research (which favors standardized questions and representative, statistically significant sample sizes) is because your customers’ pain points are highly subjective. Even if two customers have exactly the same problem, the underlying causes of that problem could differ greatly from one customer to another.

There are two primary sources of the information you need to identify your customers’ pain points – your customers themselves, and your sales and support teams. Let’s take a look at how to get the information you need from your customers first.

Conducting Qualitative Customer Research

One of the best ways to learn your customers’ biggest problems is by really listening to them.

Recently, we held our first Customer Insight Round Table event, in which we invited 11 WordStream customers to spend some time at our offices in Boston to share their experiences – good and bad – with us openly and honestly.

Customer pain points WordStream customer roundtable

A WordStream client evaluates a series of problems and proposed solutions
during our first Customer Insight Round Table event

As part of this process, we asked attendees to participate in an Ideation & Design workshop, a collaborative, hands-on session in which our customers identified some of their biggest challenges as online advertisers. This helped attendees remain focused on the problems they shared as advertisers, rather than as individual entrepreneurs and business owners, and also allowed us to focus on solving problems that were within our control.

We learned things about our customers’ problems that even the most detailed questionnaire could never unearth, and it gave us the opportunity to discuss those issues within the context of wider problems that our customers are experiencing. This gave us a remarkably detailed view of our customers’ pain points as well as a broader view of how the current economic climate and other factors are affecting real businesses.

Customer pain points WordStream customer roundtable

This kind of event is invaluable to you as a business. Not only does it allow you to converse at length with the people who are actually using your products, it also creates an environment in which problem-solving is a collaborative process.

Conducting Qualitative Sales Research

The other research resource at your disposal is your sales team. Your sales reps work on the frontlines of the battle for the hearts and minds of your prospective customers every single day, which makes them an invaluable source of feedback on your prospects’ pain points.

However, as valuable as your sales team’s feedback can be, it’s important to distinguish your sales reps’ pain points from your prospects’ pain points; your sales reps’ problems may be very real, but you’re not building a product or providing a service to make your sales reps’ lives easier (at least, not in the context of this article).

It’s crucial to separate operational challenges from genuine customer pain points. For example, let’s say your reps are experiencing a slow quarter, and sales goals have been missed for two consecutive months. Here’s where things can get complicated. Facing the prospect of missing another sales target, your reps might be tempted to bemoan a lack of qualified leads or the quality of the leads assigned to them. While this may be a legitimate complaint, it’s got nothing at all to do with your customers’ pain, so you have to filter out the noise to get to the actual problem.

Customer pain points WordStream survey what would you do differently word cloud

This word cloud of things advertisers would change about their campaigns
offers us a lot of insight into our customers’ pain points

Now let’s say that your reps tell you that they’ve had several potential deals fall through because the prospect told them that PPC is “too complicated.” This is a genuine customer pain point. This speaks to several potential pain points, including a lack of experience or training, a poor understanding of PPC best practices, badly allocated ad budget, a fundamental misunderstanding about your product and what it does, and dozens of other potential problems.

Regardless of what’s causing the pain, you now have a pain point you can counter in your marketing. Remember our list of pain points from earlier in this post? Let’s take a look at the pain points we identified, and see how we could address them in our marketing:

  • Financial: Emphasize lower price point (if applicable), highlight the average savings of your client base, use language that reiterates better ROI
  • Productivity: Highlight reductions in wasted time experienced by current customers, emphasize ease-of-use features (such as at-a-glance overviews or a centralized dashboard)
  • Processes: Mention current/planned integrations with existing products/services (i.e. Slack’s integration with Dropbox and Salesforce), highlight how your product/service can make typically difficult/time-intensive tasks easier
  • Support: Help the prospect feel like a partner by highlighting your after-market support, use connecting language (“us,” “we” etc.) in your copy

It’s important to remember that you can’t “prove” you can ease your prospects’ pain, and what works for one customer may not work for another. That’s what makes social validation so crucial when using customer pain points in your marketing; word-of-mouth recommendations and user reviews become much more persuasive when a prospect already believes your product or service could make their life better.

Customer pain points social validation customer testimonial

That’s why you should be using customer testimonials and other social validation tools in your marketing – a great review or glowing testimonial can sell your product far more effectively than even the most silver-tongued salesperson.

Mini Case Study: WordStream for Agencies

When it comes to PPC, agencies face many unique challenges. From balancing account management with sourcing new clients to improving performance and demonstrating ROI, life is far from easy for agency PPC professionals.

In May last year, we set out to learn what makes the average internet marketing agency tick – with particular emphasis on the challenges agencies face – by conducting a survey of more than 200 internet marketing agencies specializing in paid search from all over the world.

The results were fascinating, if a little predictable in some cases.

Customer pain points WordStream agency survey biggest challenges

During our analysis of the survey data, we found that time management was the single greatest challenge facing agencies today. This was perhaps the least surprising of the survey’s results – it’s no secret that agencies are under tremendous pressure if they want to compete in today’s online advertising ecosystem. Even the most skilled PPC professional still has to spend time actually working in their clients’ accounts, making time management even more crucial for agency PPC managers.

We already knew that time management was a major pain point for agencies before we built WordStream Advisor for Agencies, but when we launched the tool, we wanted to really speak to our agency clients’ pain points. Take a look at this page intended specifically for prospective agency clients:

Customer pain points WordStream for Agencies page

Although we also highlight WordStream Advisor for Agencies’ range of tools and the ease of use offered by the platform, time savings take center-stage throughout this page precisely because time management is agencies’ top priority.

Almost all of the copy on this page reiterates how much time agency PPC professionals can save by using our software, and this benefit-driven approach shapes the style, tone, and language of the entire page. In fact, we take our agency prospects’ pain points even further as we progress down the page:

Customer pain points WordStream for Agencies benefits

We know that time management is our agency prospects’ biggest pain point, but this alone isn’t all our agency prospects are worried about. Remember how we said that balancing time between account management and finding new clients was another pain point experienced by many agencies? The screenshot above shows how we’ve directly addressed this particular pain point within the context of time management and efficiency – both Productivity and Process pain points that follow logically from the initial identification of time management as agencies’ major pain point.

Remember – it’s not just about identifying your prospects’ pain points, it’s also about emphasizing what solving this pain will help your prospects do. The clearer you can make this in your copy and campaigns, the more likely your prospects are to respond positively.

Leveraging Customer Pain Points in Online Ads

Now that we’ve explored the concept of pain points in a little more detail, let’s keep going with our examples of how to leverage this pain in your online ad campaigns.

Addressing Customer Pain Points in Paid Search Ads

You’ve conducted qualitative research into what pain points your prospects are experiencing, and now you’re ready to use this knowledge in your search campaigns. What does this look like?

Customer pain points ADP payroll PPC ad example

The image above is an ad that was served to me for the search query “payroll services” on Google. Unsurprisingly, the top ad was for ADP, one of the largest payroll providers in North America. If you’re not familiar with the fascinating world of payroll services, this ad might not look all that tantalizing, but to anyone who actually works with payroll on a regular basis, this ad could be very tempting.

One of the biggest financial challenges growing companies face is payroll. According to Paychex, payroll can cost anywhere between $20 and $100 per month in addition to a fee of up to $5 per employee per payroll run. This can make hiring new people a significant expense for some companies (especially when you factor in benefits and other costs), particularly newer, smaller businesses. From the get-go, this ad promises us two months of free payroll services, but that’s not what we’re interested in – we want to take a closer look at the ad copy.

The first line of copy – “Let ADP Take The Weight Off Your Business With Fast, Easy & Reliable Payroll” – hits all the right notes. For one, the use of the phrase “Let ADP Take The Weight Off Your Business” addresses the burden of payroll subtly and uses language that evokes relief, implying the relief prospects will feel when they let ADP handle their payroll.

The inclusion of “Fast, Easy, & Reliable” is also very clever, as these common adjectives all address pain points themselves, namely that payroll is a difficult, time-consuming pain in the ass that other companies can’t be entrusted with – not bad for three words of copy. Finally, you’ll notice the inclusion of several extensions offering that crucial social validation we mentioned earlier, as well as offers for a free quote, a demo of ADP’s payroll software, and the two-months-free offer highlighted in the headline.

Addressing Customer Pain Points in Social Ads

Social ads may be even more effective at addressing customer pain points than search ads. Why? Because many people browse social media sites like Twitter and Facebook in an aspirational way; we post updates that reflect the people we want to be, not necessarily the people we are right now.

As such, a well-designed social ad that directly addresses a prospect’s pain points could be powerfully persuasive.

We can see this principle in action in this Facebook ad for technical employment screening service Triplebyte:

Customer pain points Triplebyte Facebook ad example

This ad is particularly clever and an unusual combination of emotional triggers that addresses a very specific pain point – landing a new technical job.

If you know much about software development or are friends with any of the engineers in your office, you may already know that a developer’s choice of text editor – the software programs in which developers actually write their code – is a Very Big Deal, and this ad leverages this to great effect.

Firstly, the ad makes a bold, potentially controversial claim that developers who use Vim and Emacs, two of the oldest and most popular text editors out there, are twice as likely to pass a technical interview with Triplebyte than users of Eclipse, another text editor. Although this claim is based on real data, it’s also a clever emotional trigger. Developers who use Vim or Emacs might feel a smug sense of self-satisfaction when reading this ad, but it could also raise the hackles of developers who favor other text editors. This makes the ad very tempting to would-be Triplebyte clients, regardless of their text editor of choice.

Customer pain points Triplebyte technical interviews text editors infographic

Image/data via Triplebyte

Secondly, the ad addresses a very specific pain point among techies looking for a new gig – the fear of successfully passing a technical interview. Companies like Google are famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) for the deviousness of their technical interviews, and Triplebyte’s ad infers that by using Vim or Emacs, prospective candidates can put themselves ahead of the (ferocious) competition for top technical roles.

This might not be the most conventional use of leveraging pain points in a social ad, but it’s an excellent example of how well-crafted social ads can combine emotional triggers and address very specific pain points.

Addressing Customer Pain Points in Landing Pages

As our final example of how to leverage customer pain points in your marketing, we come to one of the most effective – and leakiest – parts of the conversion funnel, the humble landing page.

Landing pages are crucial to the success of many marketing campaigns, particularly PPC campaigns. Aligning your landing pages with the copy of your ads is a well-established PPC best practice, but your landing pages can also serve as another opportunity to reinforce why your product or service can ease your prospects’ pain.

Let’s take a look at how this works.

Below is a landing page for social analytics platform SimplyMeasured:

Customer pain points SimplyMeasured landing page example

This landing page is one of the best examples of addressing customer pain points I’ve come across. The headline is very effective (“How to Make Social Marketing Decisions Faster”) but the strapline below it is even better. Not only is it benefit-driven, it also addresses two specific pain points in a single line of copy: using time more effectively – which could be either a Productivity or Processes pain point – and establishing ones’ self as the go-to social analytics person in your office.

These benefits are further emphasized further down the landing page in the copy. In the bulleted list of what readers will learn from the download, one of the benefits listed is “Make quick stunning presentations for your stakeholders.” This reiterates the promise of the strapline, which is as much about perception as it is about productivity.

This landing page definitely isn’t perfect (there are many more web form fields included on this landing page than those shown above), but generally speaking, it’s a great example of how to leverage customer pain points in your copy and use emotional triggers to make your landing pages much more appealing.

No Pain, No Gain

By now, hopefully you have a better idea of what your customers are really trying to do when they’re looking for companies or products like yours. Although many customer pain points are similar, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to solving your customers’ pain. Fortunately, nobody knows your customers like you do, so dive into your research and start helping your customers accomplish what they really want to do.

What other tips do you have for helping customers overcome pain points?

Source: ~ By:  Dan Shewan

The science of fitness — from a very fit scientist

Noted researcher Dr. Paul Arciero has devoted his career to helping people get more active and eat more natural, healthier foods.

Naturally, it all started in the dirt of a community garden.

“Some of my fondest childhood memories come from tending that garden with my mother,” Arciero said, recalling the hot summers harvesting in rural Connecticut. “Going there with her, tending to the earth, getting dirty – that was my introduction to healthy nourishment.”

He’s made the most of that early lesson, spending 25 years at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he is a professor of nutrition and exercise science and director of the Human Nutrition & Metabolism Laboratory.

Arciero has published over 50 peer-reviewed scientific journals, but his education in the world of healthy living didn’t all come from the classroom or the laboratory.

Paul Arciero (left) with his brother, John. (Photo courtesy of Paul Arciero)

Paul Arciero (left) with his brother, John. (Photo courtesy of Paul Arciero)

He was also a top tennis player as a youth, in college – and even in recent years, when he and his brother John were ranked No. 12 in the United States Men’s 50 & Over Doubles. Arciero is also a triathlete who has coached hockey and tennis, among other athletic feats.

“My research has examined and explored the lifestyle strategies of physical activity and exercise training, combined with healthy eating,” he said. “It’s based on human science, not computer science. Having an understanding of the human experience is something I pride myself on.”

An important part of that experience has been family.

Arciero, the fifth of seven children, grew up gathering around for healthy meals and excelling in sports at school.

“My mother was ahead of her time, knowing that eating well is linked to how you feel and how you are,” he said.

In college at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, Arciero and his brother John were on a three-month tour with the European Satellite Tennis Circuit when his interests in exercise, nutrition and academia all snapped together.

“John helped me develop the ability to be more appreciating and conscious of the power of your mind,” Arciero said. “He was a tipping point of understanding my intellect.”

From there, Arciero went on to receive two masters of science degrees, from Purdue University and the University of Vermont. He earned a doctorate from Springfield College and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

The key themes of fitness and family continue with some of Arciero’s latest work as well. He recently developed a new app, with help from his son Nick, a developer and coder. The GenioFit app lets you know what you should eat when, and when you should exercise, Arciero said. He leads exercise videos in the app, as well as guided meditations.

“GenioFit embraces all the fundamental premises and mission of the research I’ve done, the organizations I represent, and who I am,” Arciero said. “It’s imperative that we engage in lifestyle strategies that engage healthy eating and exercise. There’s a synergy that lets us derive a significantly greater benefit when the two are together.”

When he’s not at work, Arciero can often be found – naturally – working with his wife Karen in the large garden in his yard that helps feed them and their three sons.


7 Habits of a Happy Brain

1. Remember that you have power to build new pathways in your brain. (But it takes more persistence and courage than you may expect, because your old pathways are already well developed and connected to your pleasure and pain centers.)

2. Remind yourself that your frustrations are just electricity flowing down the path of least resistance in your brain. (You can give your electricity a new place to flow if you focus on a positive new choice every day for 45 days without fail.)

3. You can turn on the excitement of dopamine by taking a step toward an expected reward. (Of course rewards are unpredictable in the real world, but you can always adjust your expectations and take another step.)

4. You can enjoy the safe feeling of oxytocin by taking small steps toward social trust, often. (The mammal brain rewards you with a good feeling when you create social trust, but it makes careful choices because it’s not always safe to trust.)

5. You can stimulate the nice feeling of serotonin by focusing on what you have instead of what you lack. (The mammal brain makes social comparisons because that promotes survival in the state of nature, but you can find ways to feel good about yourself without putting others down.)

6. Laughing triggers the joy of endorphin, so make time in your life for laughter. (You may not laugh at what your friends think is funny, so let your own sense of humor be your guide.)

7. Stop what you’re doing when your cortisol turns on, because it makes everything you do look bleak. (Cortisol is designed to alert you to potential threats, so you will see plenty of threats until you give your body a couple of hours to metabolize it.)

Source: ~ By: Loretta Breuning, Ph.D.

Ten Habits Of Incredibly Happy People

We’re always chasing something—be it a promotion, a new car, or a significant other. This leads to the belief that, “When (blank) happens, I’ll finally be happy.”

While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn’t last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.

The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting.

Happiness is synthetic—you either create it, or you don’t. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you:

1. They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures.

By nature, we fall into routines. In some ways, this is a good thing. It saves precious brainpower and creates comfort. However, sometimes you get so caught up in your routine that you fail to appreciate the little things in life. Happy people know how important it is to savor the taste of their meal, revel in the amazing conversation they just had, or even just step outside to take a deep breath of fresh air.

2. They exercise.

Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Happy people schedule regular exercise and follow through on it because they know it pays huge dividends for their mood.

3. They spend money on other people.

Research shows that spending money on other people makes you much happier than spending it on yourself. This is especially true of small things that demonstrate effort, such as going out of your way to buy your friend a book that you know they will like.

4. They surround themselves with the right people.

Happiness spreads through people. Surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity, and it’s flat-out fun. Hanging around negative people has the opposite effect. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people.

5. They stay positive.

Bad things happen to everyone, including happy people. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, happy people reflect on everything they’re grateful for. Then they find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to experience negative events. Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.

6. They get enough sleep.

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to improving your mood, focus, and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, removing toxic proteins that accumulate during the day as byproducts of normal neuronal activity. This ensures that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your energy, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Happy people make sleep a priority, because it makes them feel great and they know how lousy they feel when they’re sleep deprived.

7. They have deep conversations.

Happy people know that happiness and substance go hand-in-hand. They avoid gossip, small talk, and judging others. Instead they focus on meaningful interactions. They engage with other people on a deeper level, because they know that doing so feels good, builds an emotional connection, and is an interesting way to learn.

8. They help others.

Taking the time to help people not only makes them happy, but it also makes you happy. Helping other people gives you a surge of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which create good feelings. In a Harvard study, employees who helped others were 10 times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. As long as you make certain that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, helping others is sure to have a positive influence on your mood.

9. They make an effort to be happy.

No one wakes up feeling happy every day and supremely happy people are no exception. They just work at it harder than everyone else. They know how easy it is to get sucked into a routine where you don’t monitor your emotions or actively try to be happy and positive. Happy people constantly evaluate their moods and make decisions with their happiness in mind.

10. They have a growth mindset.

People’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged, because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. This makes them happier because they are better at handling difficulties. They also outperform those with a fixed mindset because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

 Source: ~ By: Travis Bradberry

How female entrepreneurs can overcome the odds

Ladies, let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Venture capitalists still don’t “get it,” and invest a disproportionate amount of money in businesses run by all-male teams. Loans to women entrepreneurs can cost us more than those to men. (I know, right?) This is despite the well-documented finding that start-ups with women at the top, along with men, perform better – in fact, much better – than men-only.

Now for the good news: there has never been a better time to start a business; there has never been a better time to be a female entrepreneur (even if we have some ways to go). The costs of starting businesses are coming down – think cloud computing instead of rows of servers, shared work spaces instead of long-term leases, freelancers for certain functions instead of all full-time employees, social media instead of advertising, and video chat instead of business trips.

I made the switch from corporate executive to first-time entrepreneur a few years ago. Here’s what I found was helpful in making the transition…and what women entrepreneurs are doing to overcome the gender funding gap:

*I’m seeing again and again that a key differentiator for entrepreneurs is their network, and how effectively they engage it. This is true in getting funding (I first went to people I had worked with in the past); it’s true in finding your first users; it’s true in finding the right people to hire; and it’s true in activating excitement about your business.

And in doing this, there’s no substitute for elbow grease. In hiring, for example, I engaged my network, but it wasn’t always as easy as simply hiring someone who had worked for me in the past. My network had to work harder for me than that. That’s because at a certain level of seniority in corporate America, people move from being “doers” to “managers,“ and start-ups need to tilt strongly towards “doers.” Going back to “doing” can be a bridge too far for some “managers.”

I found my co-founder of Ellevest through a serial entrepreneur I had become friendly with; we found our Chief Design Officer through a woman who leads a consulting firm, whom I’d met at a conference; and I found our Chief Investment Officer through…well….by spending hours on LinkedIn reviewing profiles and then networking to get to her.

A vibrant, engaged network is an entrepreneur’s secret weapon.

*I had to learn how to ask for money from friends and former colleagues. Ugh, right? Well, the big mindset change on this came from my co-founder. I had been thinking of the ask as a “favor” people were doing for me. His take: do we believe in what we are doing? (Answer is yes.) Do we believe it can be a successful and profitable business? (Again, yes.) Do we believe it can be a “home run.” (Hell yes.) Well, then weare doing a favor for them by offering them the opportunity, not the other way around. (I had to repeat this to myself…again and again….to get it to stick.)

*Get over the fear of failure. The research is clear that we females take failure harder than men do. Maybe it’s because, as Reshma Saujani noted in her Ted talk, girls are taught to be perfect, while boy are taught to be brave. But entrepreneurialism is all about repeated trial and error and failure. So we just have to find a way to let this go. (One way? Recognizing that very few people, besides yourself, really care. Believe me on this one.)

*Don’t forget that the “least expensive” form of capital is revenue. One of the reasons that businesses with women in leadership are more successful than men-only is because they don’t fail as often. And that’s in part because their path to revenue tends to be shorter.

Revenue reduces your risk in several ways. It proves out your business model in real time (ie, will someone actually pay real money for what you are selling?). Profitable revenue puts money in the bank, which you can then spend on growing your business. And – the great news – you don’t have to dilute your ownership in order to access this money.

*Play on the playgrounds on which being a woman is an advantage. This includes registering as a woman-owned business, which can give you a leg up in winning some types of business.  Also, work to access women-focused funding sources, such as angel investing groups like Broadway Angels and Astia, or seed funds like BBG Ventures, or organizations that provide both support and funding, like the Tory Burch Foundation. There are more and more of these types of organizations these days. (Check out Mind the Gap – and Close It: The Ellevest Guide to Dominating Your Financial Future for more resources for closing the gender funding gap…and other gender money gaps.)

This is not to say that accessing these sources is easy by any means; they are competitive. But the playing field is at least tilted towards us women there, as opposed to away from us.

*Passion. This may sound pretty obvious, but I’ve seen again and again that passion for an idea is the key to success. I didn’t make the leap to being an entrepreneur until I found an idea I just couldn’t stop thinking about.

For me, it is the intersection of women and money, because of the positive impact that women having more money can have on them, their families and on society. That led me to found Ellevest, an digital investment platform for women. I circled around a number of other ideas, most notably a marketplace in which women could work from their homes part-time on an as-needed basis for companies. I liked that idea, but I didn’t LOVE it. And so I decided I wouldn’t bring the edge that I needed to activate my network, raise money from my friends, and work the hours that were required without it.

Source: ~ By Sally Krawcheck