Entrepreneurial Advice From Women Who’ve Been There and Done That
It’s a hell of a time for women. A record number of us ran for public office in 2018 – and won. The number of female-led businesses has grown nearly 60% in recent years, and every day, nearly 2,000 women-owned businesses are launched.
When I started on my journey of entrepreneurship, I leaned heavily on the advice, anecdotes, and failures of other women. Always willing to share vulnerably, I found their guidance to be immensely helpful (and still do). I thought I’d share with our community some bits of insight from brilliant women who have ventured down the road less traveled.
Here’s what they had to share.
Choose Your Own Path
“One of the advantages of being an entrepreneur is charting your own course. There is no rule book to follow. If anything, there is one to break. For me, that meant creating a new culture within entrepreneurship by building an incubator that was inclusive of underrepresented founders – helping them gain access to high quality training, mentorship, and capital opportunities. From the way we recruit, to the examples we use in our curriculum to the diversity of our mentor network – top to bottom – it takes intention to shift culture. And internal to that culture was leading the way as a woman and mother, by bringing my kids into board meetings, having them on stage with me at conferences, and not even thinking about apologizing if there was noise in the background on a conference call. I refused to have a bifurcated identity where I am mom here, woman over here, and entrepreneur over there. To me, the opportunity has been to show up in the world with a unified identity.”
–Courtney Klein, Founder of Seed Spot
Embrace What Makes You Valuable
“It’s ok to be a zebra instead of a unicorn. In fact, I might argue you’ll have a better life as a zebra and create more real value… Let go of the pressures to “hustle” and be a “girl boss.” Just be you and build the company you’ve envisioned to solve real problems for real people. That’s value creation.”
–Sidnee Peck, Chief of Staff for Zero Mass Water
Take Care of Yourself — And Your Team
“Being a business owner has taught me about patience and care – it may be because my business developed while my kids were little, and the patience and care leaned over into both – who knows! To that end, my team of amazing people are at the center of my business’ success, and that’s how they are treated. Being given space to grow and develop is critical. I’ve enjoyed the people as much as the business, and engaging them in success metrics has been empowering to their well-being. Another tidbit: the hardest conversations that I tend to avoid are the most critical to have in the growth of my team, and myself. I can’t imagine not being the boss.”
–Teri Twarkins Kelley. Founder of Viewpoint Financial Group
It’s OK to Prioritize the Non-Business Parts of Your Life
“My advice is for everyone, men and women and all the pronouns. There is no such thing as work-life balance. It comes down to what matters to you and finding the balance that makes you happy and healthy. My priorities are: personal health, family, my company. I’ve had to get very clear on that and keep it in the forefront of my mind. It means that things like hobbies, happy hours, and making new friendships have fallen to the back burner. If I was trying to achieve true “balance,” I’d topple over from trying to be in too many places at once. Balance for me means honoring my priorities and not apologizing for everything that isn’t getting my attention right now.”
–Aly Saxe, Founder & CEO of Iris
This is a Choice; Design Your Own Path
“Always treat yourself with grace and honesty. Being a mom, entrepreneur, business-owner, wife, friend, etc. is A LOT! These are our choices and we get to be and do all of this, which is a wonderful thing. That said, what is working for you now, may not work for you six months or six years from now. Always remember that life is about the journey, not the destination, and make the changes and the choices that are right for you.