In honor of Women's History Month, we're excited to highlight some pretty extraordinary women! In 2018, we did our first round-up of advice from women entrepreneurs and we're pleased to say we're back this year with business advice from another 32 women entrepreneurs! For those of you interested in learning about business or entrepreneurship or those who just want to hear from some badass women entrepreneurs regardless of the topic, we proudly bring you both! Sit back, relax, and grab a glass of wine, here are golden nuggets from 32 pretty amazing business women!
Ask for help. We can't know everything about everything. Ask the (female) entrepreneur around the corner to recommend accounting software. Ask your BFF what she thinks of your new logo. Ask your accountant to recommend a trademark attorney. The internet, while a seemingly limitless source of information, is no substitute for been-there-done-that advice.
Go all the way with your brand and don't be afraid to be misunderstood or disliked by some. Pissing some people off is the only way to attract raving fans, and raving fans are how you build a brand with star power that will last in the long run.
Get involved in your local community. Volunteer, be passionate about a cause, connect with people and support organizations that share your values. You’ll never regret the investment you make in your community.
Think big and share your vision early and often. I was pitching one of the top venture capital funds in Silicon Valley last year and I was comparing PartySlate, a platform that inspires people planning large scale events and connects them with leading event professionals and venues, to the wildly popular home decor website Houzz.com. One of the female VCs pulled me aside after the meeting and said I should think even bigger -- there isn't any reason why PartySlate can't be the dominant event inspiration platform in the world! The main message is to paint a picture of a large global opportunity and confidently show the path to getting there.
Pay attention to the numbers that matter. It's easy for us as business owners to get caught up in focusing on the top line and sales. The real number you want to pay attention to is your net profit in creating a sustainable business. Put systems in place to ensure you're reserving enough cash to pay yourself. Then allocate the rest to the expense buckets that come with running a business (labor, operating costs, taxes, loan obligation, etc). Make sure you have a plan for every $1 that comes in, how that $1 is going to be allocated.
Lean into your power as a female leader. Leading with love and vulnerability is more important than ever before. In a digital era where the velocity of change is at an all-time high, it is you and your brand that you have control over. Be you!
Reach out to people. When you work for yourself -- and likely have many other family and life obligations -- it can be easy to get lost in client work. The last thing you want is one more thing on your to-do list, but I can't tell you how important it is to reach out to people.
Ask questions. Consider connecting with people who use your services to learn about their challenges and successes -- without pitching them. For instance, my firm helps marketers publish original research. So, I connect with people who publish research I admire to ask them about it. I usually don't know these people, but most people welcome the conversation. I always learn something -- and some of these connections turn into clients or a referral source. Also, reach out to other entrepreneurs, especially those who work in industries similar to yours. It's ideal to build a tribe of like-minded individuals who can be 100% honest with and learn from each other.
Find your tribe. When I started my entrepreneurship journey in 2008, I connected with five other B2B marketing writers. We started a blog to help our individual businesses, and we ultimately became each other's lifelines. We got and gave advice on everything from how to price our services to how to get work done with our small children who weren't napping. I honestly don't know what I would have done with these women.
Ask for help. All too often, I see women who are nervous to ask their colleagues, women or men, for help and mentorship. Sometimes we feel like asking for help or for even for clarification makes us seem weak and that is simply not the case. Having a mentor, someone who you can ask questions, or even someone that you can rant to is always a plus.
Success breeds success. Allow yourself to be surrounded by like-minded people of success.
Rachael Kay Albers,
Digital Strategist & Business Comedian RKA Ink
Create your own opportunity. I wasted a lot of time in business waiting for someone to GIVE me an opportunity when I realized I had the power to CREATE my own opportunity. You'll save a lot of time if you don't wait for others to give you a seat at the table but instead, you bring your own chair or, better yet, build your own table. Create your own stage. Grab your megaphone. Tell your story. Don't wait for someone to tell you that you're a leader, just lead.
Focus on your health. Entrepreneurship is hard mentally, physically and emotionally, but should never be done at the sacrifice of your long term health and wellness. Take time to ensure you are setting yourself up for a sustainable pace that allows you to build your business, and be a healthy, well-rounded person.
Outsource everything you do not love to do. You won't be good at it and it's emotionally expensive. We will never be good at what we do not love to do. Don't give away the fun stuff' because you think it will make someone else happy to help us. Keep the stuff you love to do for yourself. Ask someone to help, require someone to help or hire it out...you can make that money back much faster doing what you do best. Plus, everyone has to eat.
Disconnect. Know when you need to disconnect from social media, tune out advice from others and just do your thing.
Alex Wehrley, Founder, TV Host & Executive Producer Empowerista
Simply get started. Specifically, I’d start with building your brand and audience. When I started Empowerista, I wasn’t 100% certain what I wanted it to be. I simply knew I wanted to empower women and tell stories for a living. Thanks to social media anyone can be a storyteller and build an audience, as long as they’re giving value. So I asked myself, how can I tell stories on social media that empower women? Because I simply started - with one post, and then another - I was able to quickly get feedback from my audience and give them more of what they were finding valuable. Once I built an audience, the monetization piece became a lot easier. Your audience will inform you what they want to hear and purchase from you. Understand your audience and pivot accordingly.
Cultivate relationships. I strongly believe in cultivating meaningful relationships as cornerstones of professional success and personal fulfillment. People ultimately do business with those they KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST. I strive hard to be this type of known, liked, and trusted person. How do you do this? Show up. Attend events with the goal to educate and appreciate. Education drives credibility which drives trust. Appreciation drives loyalty. The two most powerful words in any language are "Thank You."
Find your tribe. I'm fortunate to be part of several "tribes" of local business owners. These groups are so much more than transactional networking groups. They are a gathering of people who genuinely care for each other and want to help each other succeed. I encourage you to find your tribe(s) and invest heavily in them.
Invest in self-care. I also encourage you to invest in self-care so that you can physically and mentally show-up with an undeniably attractive energy. "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Anonymous)
Be true to yourself. “Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Howard Thurman)
Co-Founder Meat on the Street
Find a support group.
Your "competition" is also your asset -> there's room for all!
Take a breath. It's going to happen, but it's not all going to happen RIGHT NOW. Take that breath to celebrate what you've accomplished so far and decide what one thing are you going to tackle next. Yes, I said "one thing." You're going to wear a lot of hats as an entrepreneur, but they won't all fit on your head at the same time.
Don't be afraid to TAKE. UP. SPACE. Be loud. Ask for attention and money, and then get it. Embrace any confidence wholeheartedly and know that the insecurities and imposter syndrome will feel less and less dire with time. Dare to be yourself, never to fall in line, and always stand up for what you know to be true and right. We all lose when women choose to shrink, or fade away. You got this. Keep going. <3
You know your business better than anyone else. Listen, ask for advice, research relentlessly and be open to recommendations, but ultimately follow your gut. Your internal compass is strong. If it wasn't, you wouldn't have even considered the path of entrepreneurship.
No one picks entrepreneurship because it's the easy path. This isn't a job, it's how our brains are wired. We are the weirdos, the obsessives, the ones with chips on our shoulders, the ones with something to prove. Remember why you started this.
I recently had someone tell me to "get a real job." And I think that's the funniest thing I've ever heard. Being an entrepreneur is the realest job anyone will ever have. And unless you've done it, you don't understand that. This is so much bigger than any job your skeptics will ever have. Don't listen to the critics and don't read the comments unless they stoke your fire.
Find confidence in yourself. Ask yourself "why can't I" if and when you question your ability to do something that is new to you, or challenging, or outside of your traditional roles or just uncomfortable for you. You can do anything if you just change your mindset and believe in yourself! You got this!
Be passionate. I have always been passionate about my business idea. If your business idea is your passion it will keep you focused and motivated.
Don't let the opinions and doubts of other people make you doubt yourself. Only listen to the people who support you and believe in you.
Ask for help and lean on those who compliment your weaknesses. Just because you are the one with the big ideas doesn't mean you have to do everything. In fact, your business is stronger when you have a team to support you and can bring their strengths to table.
Create your own journey. Entrepreneurship is a tough path. It is filled with unknowns and roadblocks but the beauty of that path is that you get to make it whatever you want it to be.
Women are so powerful. Be empowered by people who support you, but also by those who don’t believe in you. Show those who do believe in you what you’re capable of, and prove to those who don’t believe in you just how powerful you truly are. Women can, and do, move mountains.
Be your authentic self. Our life experiences have taught us lessons and if we were listening, they help guide us to our evolving core. Being my authentic self, helps me develop trust and for those that can't express themselves freely at work, they know that my treatment room is like Vegas, "what's discussed in the treatment room, stays in the treatment room" unless it's a discussion about skincare!
Build your network. You never know who the person you're speaking with knows. That connection could lead to an amazing referral and the 6 degrees of separation, could actually be more like 3!
Never be afraid to ask for what you want. Though we've come a long way in equality and inclusivity, we're still not where we need to be. Part of that is because we're taught that if we work hard, good things will come to us. Meanwhile, our male counterparts are asking for what they want—and are getting it.
Ask for what you want. Learn how to negotiate. Don't be afraid to push the limits. The worst you'll hear is no and the best you'll hear is yes.
Never limit yourself. Never limit yourself to what has been done before and never fear to evolve your idea or altering your direction. If you do not let yourself and your ideas evolve early on and throughout the journey, you could miss out on greater joy in opportunities as they reveal themselves.
Never hesitate to ask for advice or help. The beauty is that you choose what guidance you activate and what advice is not relevant at the time.
Surround yourself with brilliant, trusted people, always.
Make your business work for you. Entrepreneurship is hard. Make sure all the blood, sweat, and tears you pour into your business allow you to carve out and create space for the opportunities you want in your life. Take a step back every now and then to make sure you're not veering off the life path you want to build for yourself. Your business should support the life you want to lead. Your life should not be what supports your business.
Lead with conviction. When you believe wholeheartedly in the thing you do, others who share similar beliefs will be drawn to you. It has nothing to do with the traditional means of "success." It has everything to do with believing in your purpose and that the thing you're doing matters. People crave purpose.
Be gentle with yourself. The highs are so high and the lows are so low. Know that you have already overcome so many battles by already getting to wherever you are in your journey. Take it easy and remember it's exactly that - a journey.
Bring others with you. The African Proverb, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." is so true. If you believe in whatever you're building, chances are others believe in it too. Give them the chance to be part of your journey. You'll surprise yourself with what you can do when you know other people have your back and are fighting for the same things you are.
Stay the course. There will be days where you feel like you're not making a difference or you don't see the growth. Always create content and share your work/business because the power of word of mouth is so strong. You never know who's watching, rooting for you, and promoting you to your next potential customer. So stay positive, keep your head up, and being the badass woman you continue to be every second.
Ask for help. As women, we tend to take on all the responsibilities alone. However, with new business, it is so helpful to find other experts to help you answer the questions you come across along the way. By using resources at SBDC, WWBIC, a good friend, or even Q&A with an attorney, you can get to the answers so much quicker than trying to do the research alone. And in business, I feel like it is best to be fully prepared for everything... or to at least try to be.
Don't do it alone. Connect with other entrepreneurs and build relationships within your community. Whether your business is just you or you have employees, support other women-owned businesses and find ways to partner and lift each other up.
Welp, that's what these incredible women have to say. What about you?
If you have additional words of advice, please share them on social media or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll work on extending this piece!
Kiley Founder & CEO
Kiley Peters is the Founder and CEO of Brainchild Studios, a boutique audience research, content strategy, and website creation agency primarily serving brands targeting Millennial Moms or business owners. She is also the Founder of the Work From Home Playbook, a series of online courses guiding aspiring entrepreneurial moms through the steps of starting a virtual business. She also launched the Brainchild Fund, a nonprofit initiative to support women and girls in business and entrepreneurship
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