There are more women entrepreneurs starting new businesses today than at any point in history.
We will all benefit as a result of this trend. Women are more likely to see and fix industry gaps than men are, making them more likely to identify business ideas that will succeed and help others.
And while it’s always challenging to start and grow a new business, there are many terrific resources tailored to help women entrepreneurs start, run and grow their businesses more quickly. As a result, women have founded very diverse businesses, across many industries.
For example, what do a fitness expert, sustainable apparel enthusiast, online magazine owner, media co-founder, and two crowdSPRING creatives have in common? They are all trailblazing, empowered, and highly successful female entrepreneurs that have worked hard to carve their own unique paths in the business world.
We spoke to 6 female entrepreneurs about their experiences with starting their own businesses, raising families, and their overall journey as female entrepreneurs. With years of wisdom, different industries, and different ages, these women represent a glimpse into what being an entrepreneur is really like. Here are the important insights they wanted to share with you.
As the founder of a fitness community for moms that includes classes, support, and a community of fit moms, Lisa has become an expert in leveraging 21st century marketing for her unique audience.
I have been marketing my company via word of mom for over a decade. The social media platforms may change but the talk has always been based on the story of moms. When moms like something, they talk. When they don’t like something, they talk. It doesn’t matter where or on what they talk, what matters is that they talk. We have made sure to create a very special business that moms want to talk about in a positive light.
When it comes to female entrepreneurship in general, Lisa has one big tip: know your purpose. With FIT4MOM, Lisa’s purpose is to empower mothers to lead healthy, active lives while caring for their children. But for aspiring entrepreneurs, knowing your “why” is Lisa’s biggest tip.
First, figure out your why. When you know your why and you are totally committed to it, you can get through any obstacle. Think about what you want your life to look like. If you want to be a remote entrepreneur and work from your laptop, then you probably don’t want to start a brick and mortar business. Figure out what you are most passionate about and see how you can bring that together with your purpose.
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Sheer Apparel focuses on providing consumers with a central, online location to purchase fair and sustainable clothing. Paula wanted to bring transparency to the clothing industry- something that others have struggled and failed to do in the past. While starting such a new venture, Paula learned a lot about funding her business.
For now, my business is self-funded. Although that won’t work forever or for any type of company, it keeps you disciplined, makes sure you spend money in a smart way, and shows a future investor that you are literally invested in the business- you aren’t just saying that you are. Also, people who are just starting out can sometimes forget that raising money, be it from Angel investors or through crowdfunding takes time and effort, so inevitably it’ll take you away from the day to day running of your business. So if you can, I suggest trying to start out self-funded.
Paula echoes what many other successful entrepreneurs say: entrepreneurship is a lonely, difficult road- though worthwhile! She suggests building a support network and anticipating the unexpected and the underestimated, especially for first time entrepreneurs.
I’d give female entrepreneurs the same advice I give to any entrepreneur, male or female: surround yourself with smart people who will challenge you when you are becoming too comfortable and will support you when you are being too hard on yourself. Also, everything will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you thought, plan for that.
Sallee has built her business based on an online magazine surrounded by a community of women seeking empowerment. When it comes to building a support network, Sallee is all too familiar with just how important it is to be surrounded by a support system.
Trust is the magic ingredient for building community. Although we say build a community, in actual fact what we’re doing is tapping into a community that already exists. Social media and the world wide web gives us all the tools we need for finding our community, our tribe. Before that happens, it’s essential to figure out who your people are. When you know who they are and where they are likely to be hanging out, finding them is going to be so much easier! My top tip: When you’ve found your people, ask them if there is anyone else they know who would benefit from your product or service… If people like what you’re offering, you might be pleasantly surprised by just how far this one question can travel!
When it comes to entrepreneurship in general, Sallee reiterates the idea of building and relying on a community of people to create a team.
Be yourself and don’t try and do this alone. Surround yourself with people – business owners, startups, mentors, communities, friends and family…whoever you need. I learned a valuable lesson from creating #TEAMTALL, which is that we’re a TEAM for a reason. The reason is that “Together Everyone Achieves More” and that is a beautiful thing worth sharing.
Annie Wang, Her Campus
As co-founder of a growing media platform for college-aged women, Annie understands the value of a strong brand. From day one, Annie and her team focused on building a reliable brand that women could rely on for content and suggestions.
Winning brands put their audience first and always strive to provide value and service to their users regardless of what else is going on. Developing brand loyalty is critically important in today’s fast-paced, constantly changing environment. As platforms and trends come and go, having a user base that is loyal and enthusiastic is incredibly powerful. Some of the most important investments you make will be on initiatives that don’t have an apparent direct connection to revenue, but that generate deep trust and even love from your users; that always pays for itself down the line.
Annie is also familiar with starting a business when the odds are against you. She urges other female entrepreneurs to embrace the fear and doubt and use it as a motivator when starting a business.
Persist! A big part of entrepreneurship is simply outlasting the competition, the skeptics, and your own doubts and worries. This cannot be understated. My co-founders and I started our business with no money and no business experience, and while we were still college students. We did not view these as obstacles and pushed through by sheer hard work and willingness to learn. Now get out there and get started!
Janis started her freelance business some years ago when she first became a crowdSPRING creative. While being a freelance entrepreneur may be difficult, Janis manages her business by jumping headfirst into her work. When faced with the potential to fail, Janis looks at it from a different perspective.
I try not to fight my fear of failure. In my opinion, fear is a great motivator! One of my favorite quotes is about art and failure. It is posted on my profile at crowdSPRING: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” –Scott Adams
When working on her business, Janis often spends a lot of time perfecting her designs or reaching out to find clients. Her advice to other female entrepreneurs? Love your business, or you’ll be miserable.
As cliché as it sounds, it cannot be overstated: do what you love and love what you do! You will be spending many hours working on your business so it must be something you are passionate about!
Lynn is also a crowdSPRING creative, and runs her own business, Ink & Key. She juggles her business, design work, and being a mom- often all in one day. Like many other mom entrepreneurs, Lynn finds time to balance everything by prioritizing.
I have a 19-year-old and a 17-year-old who are both super-busy and involved in their own lives, so it’s a lot easier now than it would have been had I tried this when they were small. I make an effort to connect with my kids whenever they’re around. My son owns his own business and is in his first year of college and my daughter is busy with high school and ballet, so I try to involve myself in what’s important to them as much as I can. It really helps that they are supportive of what I’m doing and cheering me on. I try to take extra time on the weekends to bake something yummy for them, which helps bring us together as a family and is a practical way I can love them. I know that every mom’s situation is unique, but I believe that no matter what season of motherhood we’re in, through trial and error we can all find a daily and weekly rhythm that works.
With so much going on, Lynn says it’s natural to turn to blogs and entrepreneurial coaches to help with business success. But she warns other female entrepreneurs against using comparison, instead focusing on self-growth.
We are all bombarded on a regular basis with blogs, articles and emails like “The 5 Best Ways to Do Everything Perfectly.” Everyone is telling us how to be uber-successful. I’m not knocking the folks who are gifted at training entrepreneurs, but please don’t spend too much time attempting to do what other people are doing to be successful. Gain wisdom where you can, but please don’t compare yourselves to others. Comparison rarely leads to encouragement. Instead, learn through your successes and failures what works best for you and your unique situation, and then create and practice habits to support that.
For more insight into female entrepreneurship, check out our free 70+ page eBook (we collaborated with The Founding Moms to create this ebook) What Are You Waiting For? A Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs on Starting, Growing and Managing a Successful Business.
Image source: Eutah Mizushima
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