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Most female entrepreneurs probably strive throughout the year to improve their business’ efficiency, strategize for growth and meet market needs. However, the New Year provides women business owners with an opportunity to slow down and really examine the structures on which they’ve built their companies, and to work strategically to better those structures for long-term success â€" in whatever way they define it.


A recent study from Jane Out of the Box, an authority on female entrepreneurs, reveals there are five distinct types of women in business. Each one has a unique approach to running a business â€" and therefore each one has a unique combination of needs. This article outlines two of the five types and provides some advice for continued success and satisfaction as they ring in 2010.


Accidental Jane is a successful, confident business owner who never actually set out to start a business. Instead, she may have decided to start a business due to frustration with her job or a layoff and then she decided to use her business and personal contacts to strike out on her own. Or, she may have started making something that served her own unmet needs and found other customers with the same need, giving birth to a business. Although Accidental Jane may sometimes struggle with prioritizing what she needs to do next in her business, she enjoys what she does and is making good money. About 18% of all women business owners fit the Accidental Jane profile.


Accidental Jane business owners report feeling confident and fulfilled in their work, and they appreciate that their businesses provide them with a great work-life balance. On the other hand, Accidental Janes often say the ebbs and flows of business can be stressful. Sometimes the workload is overwhelming, and other times there doesn’t seem to be enough work. To obtain greater satisfaction starting in 2010, Accidental Jane business owners may want to consider the following tips:


Maintain an even workload. Accidental Jane’s marketing efforts usually run opposite her workload. For example, if she has several projects to work on, she slows down her marketing efforts because she doesn’t have time for more projects. On the other hand, when she nears completion on current projects, she starts marketing to find new clients to fill her time (and keep her income steady). How does a business owner maintain an even workload?


  • Create a “non-negotiables” filter. Make a list of items you absolutely must have. These items may be:  one work-free day per week, the ability to take a day off to care for loved ones if the need arises unexpectedly, projects that require creative stretch or clients with whom it is enjoyable to work. If a new opportunity comes up, but doesn’t allow Accidental Jane to have all the things on her must-have list, then she can pass it on to someone else. This way, Accidental Jane will only take on projects that she’s sure to enjoy and that are in keeping with her standards for living and working.

  • Design an effortless, steady marketing system. Networking systems exist that don’t take up much time, yet allow for a steady stream of marketing opportunities. This is just right for Accidental Jane, who doesn’t want to spend too much time marketing, but who will undoubtedly appreciate a steadier workload. Putting a certain amount of time into social networking outlets such as Facebook, will allow Accidental Jane to market with little effort and steady results.

  • Hire help. Some Accidental Janes are reluctant to hire help, in part because they enjoy their freedom and don’t want to be tied to employees or dragged into the politics they left behind in the corporate world. Hiring a virtual assistant for several hours per week, or a personal assistant to take care of the menial chores Accidental Jane doesn’t enjoy anyway, can take some of the smaller tasks off her hands, leaving her more time to do the work she loves.


Merry Jane. This entrepreneur is usually building a part-time or “flexible time” business that gives her a creative outlet (whether she’s an ad agency consultant or she makes beautiful artwork) that she can manage within specific constraints around her schedule. She may have a day-job, or need to be fully present for family or other pursuits. She realizes she could make more money by working longer hours, but she’s happy with the tradeoff she has made because her business gives her tremendous freedom to work how and when she wants, around her other commitments.


Merry Jane loves the way her business fits into her life. It gives her the flexibility to take care of the myriad other tasks and responsibilities she must complete, and it gives her a creative outlet at the same time. On the other hand, a majority of Merry Jane business owners said they would love to make more money. In 2010, Merry Jane can increase her business’ revenue by following some simple advice:


Increase marketing and sales. Defining a business’ target market and then marketing to that group is key to increasing a company’s bottom line. It sounds simple, and it is; consider these strategies before launching a huge campaign:


  • Identify the target and form a clear message. Merry Jane must decide exactly who she wants to sell to, and why those people are likely to buy her product or service. A clear target and marketing message provide maximum efficiency for any marketing activity. To best define the market, ask existing customers why they chose Merry Jane’s company, what they enjoy about the company, and how the rates compare with other companies.

  • Select a fitting marketing method. Traditional marketing that includes a call to action can bring customers in fast, but it’s also expensive. Traditional sales techniques require an investment of time that a Merry Jane may or may not want to invest. Networking gives Merry Jane entrepreneurs a chance to meet with other business owners and to sell services face to face. Affiliate marketing provides opportunities to work with other entrepreneurs and to earn commission and business. Referral marketing (in which existing customers earn a reward if they refer an acquaintance) is an easy way to gain new customers without much work, but it does require a strong existing customer base.

  • Leverage existing customer relationships. Create programs in which customers get rewards after spending a certain amount of money. Offer an auto-ship program, where customers automatically receive (and pay for) a product, on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. Referral programs gain new customers with little output.


A New Year is an excellent time to focus on opportunities for reaching unprecedented levels of satisfaction for business owners, in whatever way they define it. No matter how successful the previous year has been, the next year can be even better.


Interested in learning more about the five Jane types and which Jane you are? Check out

This Business article was written by Michele DeKinder-Smith on 1/13/2010

Michele DeKinder-Smith is the founder of Jane out of the Box, an online resource dedicated to the women entrepreneur community. Discover more incredibly useful information for running a small business by taking the FREE Jane Types Assessment at Jane out of the Box. Offering networking and marketing opportunities, key resources and mentorship from successful women in business, Jane Out of the Box is online at