8 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
Business owners have no shortage of inspiring stories: the journey to starting a business, the challenges they faced, the growth they experienced, and the life that influenced them. For women in particular, their stories can be even more unique and impactful when faced with a variety of gender-specific challenges – from having less access to capital to misconceptions about their skills.
To celebrate Women's History Month, I spoke to some women entrepreneurs to hear their insights and advice for other women looking to start their own businesses. Not only does my podcast feature Behind the Review for the whole month here, but also an exclusive look at their stories, struggles and achievements.
I'll have Stephanie Shearer, co-owner of Trunk Nouveau, set the stage. “When I opened my first boutique, friends and family thought it was 'cute'. Twenty-two years and six stores later, they still think that they are & # 39; cute & # 39; are. I've never heard anyone say it's & # 39; cute & # 39; is that Elon Musk started a company. The business world in general, including banking, lenders, and politics, still does not take the role of women in business seriously. "
What is one of the biggest challenges women face today when it comes to starting or running a business?
"Access to working capital and get yourself bogged down too easily."
– Viviana Langhoff, founder and CEO of Adornment + Theory
“Overcome the fear of capital investment. It's not (necessarily) that women don't have or have access to capital – we are often afraid to take a risk to invest, especially in a company. There is data showing that men are more likely to be risk takers. "
– Jami Stigliano, Founder and CEO of DivaDance
Capital is always a big topic when we talk about challenges women face – not just how to get it, but how to invest it. For many women, finding the capital to start their business can be a major barrier to entry. We've heard for years that women don't get the same access and investment as men. A 2020 study by CrunchBase shows that women only get around 2.8 percent of total startup investments, even though they make up almost 40 percent of all entrepreneurs. And even when they have access to capital, they are often reluctant to risk it.
Finding balance and managing expectations were other common themes.
“Keeping the balance of being the best mother and wife I want to be and at the same time trying to be the best business woman I know I can. I want to give all I can to my family and the team that works for us, but I also understand that I can't always do both. There are sacrifices I continue to make for both sides and it can be frustrating to feel like you are failing one or the other. As women and mothers, I think we have additional challenges in life and business – things that men typically don't have to face in order to advance their careers. I was pregnant and had a two year old when I tried to start my business. When we finally opened, I pumped into the closet every few hours for the first six months our store was open. "
– Misty Akers, co-founder of The Candle Pour
"Remove your personal feelings from the equation because when it comes to your business it's about doing what's best for the company. Removing the staff is difficult because it's personal. You put so much of yourself into it That it is a difficult dance. Also learn when to let go of something bigger. There is always a risk / reward, a push / pull, and having the stomach to decide safely through everything is a part of it. "
– Alex Bradberry, founder of the Sparkle Bar
It's no surprise this is a balancing act. It is not easy to achieve, can feel like pretending, and can be off course at any moment. Finding the balance between your personal life and your business is a challenge, and most people would say that getting it right, if at all, is almost impossible.
However, it's more complex than just juggling work and personal life. As Alex mentioned earlier, it's also about identifying and separating your personal wants and needs from what is best for the company, which is easier said than done. It can be difficult to break away from your company to envision what might make sense in the long run, but you need to know that you are not alone – everyone is trying to strike that balance.
What advice do you have for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
“Go with your stomach. You know intuitively what is right. "
– Dani Everson, co-owner of Clementines Salon and Skincare
Doubt can keep us from trying new things and having a real stake in the ground – especially when it comes to something as big as starting a business. You may not always have all the answers, but during these times you can seek advice from those you trust and those with experience. First of all, you need to trust yourself to know the best way forward.
“You're the only one who's going to play your own horn, so strap on that proverbial trumpet and blow it on the mountain tops! Why do we, as women, always feel guilty for our success? Most men will proudly advertise their successes, but as women we often whisper ours. So take that superhero pose, girls, and don't be afraid to speak – loudly and proudly. "
– Stephanie Shearer
“Be patient and only hire people who share your vision and enthusiasm for your company. You can't do anything. So make sure you surround yourself with a team that understands the expectations and can execute them as well or better than you. "
– Misty Akers
“Progress, not perfection. Don't wait until everything is ideal. Just take steps and don't stop working towards your vision. You can slow down or take breaks, but don't stop moving forward. "
– Jami Stigliano
In the words of these successful business women, be your own cheerleader, surround yourself with people who have the same values as you (don't compromise on hiring) and always move forward.
What do you like best about being an entrepreneur?
“I love the empowerment to be my own boss. I'm not good at following rules – not even my own – so it's pretty cool to be the architect of the ceilings that I then smash. "
– Stephanie Shearer
Being an entrepreneur means something different for everyone. People have different motivations, inspirations, and reasons to do what they do. Hence, it is important to take the time to realize what it is worth to be an entrepreneur. It can be easy to focus on the overall challenges and achievements, but it's important to also talk about the best parts of each day.
Empowerment and personal responsibility for one's own journey were two of the biggest topics we heard from these women entrepreneurs.
“Owning my own time. I can spend my days and energy aligning with my goals and dreams instead of working on the clock for someone else from 9am to 6am every day. When I had my traditional career, I worked all the time for the weekend and my vacation days. As a business owner, I have to do it every day. "
– Jami Stigliano
“What I love most about being a business owner is that I have choices, even though it's a roller coaster that you buckle up to. I can create a life around a business that I love and experience with make a team that I enjoy, with clients. I'm grateful that we can create space for women who didn't exist before as we try to shape the life of my dreams for my girls. There is no glass ceiling on mine Unicorn that dreams. "
– Alex Bradberry
These women all had incredible experiences that took them to where they are today. They each have success in different industries, and their stories and insights can inspire women entrepreneurs, including this piece of advice for those just starting out.
What did you want to know when you started?
"How exhausted I would be the first year."
– Vivanna Langhoff
"How important a good accountant is."
– Dani Everson
“It couldn't be easier, you just get better. * looks in the mirror * You go, girl. "
– Alex Bradburry