Entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, have never had it easy. However, things are changing, helped along in no small measure by technological advances. The future of work looks set to become resource-based, not gender-based. Women must grab opportunities and utilize all the resources available to them. They must trust their instincts – a gift of nature – and turn that into an advantage in the cutthroat world of doing business, or indeed, building a successful business from scratch.
“It’s a woman’s world,” according to Sairee Chahal, a serial entrepreneur, mentor, workflex evangelist, and founder and CEO of SHEROES.in(earlier Fleximoms), a career shop that works towards creating and enhancing flexible work options for women. Sairee was addressing women entrepreneurs at the launch of Office 2016 in India.
In an inspiring talk, she cited the example of Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar, and pointed that it was a woman who launched the world’s first car-sharing service. Clearly, women entrepreneurs are thinking beyond businesses and business ideas that the world has traditionally associated with women.
Technology is one such resource that women, especially women entrepreneurs, can and must leverage to succeed and thrive. Applications like Microsoft’s 2016, for instance, can help a lot here. It no longer matters if you have an iPad and your office uses Windows. You can still check your documents on the go without having to worry about compatibility issues. What’s more, technology today allows us to multitask like never before and be successful in the many roles we play in our lives, be it at work, with family, or hobbies. Need to get a bunch of moms together to organize a party? Easy, start a group call on Skype to talk through the details and then send out an email on Outlook with everybody’s tasks on it. The ability to multi-task and so seamlessly and without having to tear your hair out is important to everyone but especially critical for women, who often have a multitude of tasks to juggle. This is where applications like Microsoft’s Office 2016, for instance, can help. Focused on cloud and collaboration, its new features can empower women entrepreneurs with greater flexibility and the ability to work across different operating systems and devices.
Consider this common scenario – you’ve written a proposal that your boss needs to review, but she’s travelling and has 30 minutes to go over it with you between flights. It’s simple. Even if you are using the desktop version because you’re at the office, you can work with someone who might be using Office 365 on the same document together in real time. Real-time co-authoring doesn’t get any better. The new Office also has a nifty in-built feature that allows you to start a Skype chat or a call from within a document or file you’re working on.
Armed with such technology, women looking to become entrepreneurs need to understand the startup ecosystem a little more in-depth. According to Sairee, there are four broad pillars in the startup system: underlying drivers, the economic structure, the workforce and the emerging business landscape.
Underlying drivers refers to connectivity, machine capability, demographics and social expectation. “Today, the world is highly connected. One can reach and stay connected across different corners of the world. We should also learn to work with machines, which have become more advanced. Besides making our work easier, machines have increased our capabilities,” explained Sairee, adding that women entrepreneurs also need to have a deeper understanding of the demographics, the needs and the available resources. “This understanding will help us to use the resource and fulfil the need of the market,” Sairee explained. Want to impress a potential investor on the go? Create an interactive version of your elevator pitch on Sway to bring their ideas alive. Stay in touch with them over Skype, which works the same on any device, without worrying about inter-continental call costs. Got a co-founder five time zones away with whom you need to get work done? Use the co-authoring feature of Word, which allows users to share documents via OneDrive (or SharePoint Online) via a new “Share” button. It’s so much simpler than emailing files back and forth.
Economic structure is next. Modularization, globalization and productivity are part of this structure. Explaining the economic structure, she said, “Modularization implies to form or organize into modules, for flexibility. We need to understand the demand of the market and modularise the product according to the demand. In a globalized world, ideas and businesses are no longer constrained by boundaries. Our reach is infinite. We have to utilize the present opportunities.”
Coming to the workforce, Sairee spoke about how the job market was continuously changing. Skills are becoming the part of our learning system, which will contribute to a better and more skilled workforce. Crowdsourcing, according to her, is another factor to manage the work without putting pressure on the venture. Widespread work replacement is the result of globalized economy where a workstream, and therefore a workforce, travels across a continent without people moving with them.
“This is the time for action: analysing information, collaboration, technical aptitude, ongoing education and negotiation. We have to analyse the environment around us, all the information available. Collaboration will yield results and we must understand its power. With time, technology has evolved enormously and we can use technology to work wonders,” Sairee elaborated, adding, “It’s important to enhance technical aptitude.”
The real-time collaboration on a single document or presentation or notebook, and seamless integration with various platforms means it is easier for, say, a working mom to login to Office 365 from any device and complete her work from home or during a long commute. Try it today to find out how you can benefit from the new collaborative features of the new Office 2016.