Anna Maria Romero – March 24, 2019 10:00 AM • 5 minute read
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It’s exciting to be a woman these days. Women have more freedom to be anything they want, and that includes being business owners or entrepreneurs.
Doors that were shut to our mothers and grandmothers are swinging wide open for the new generation of women.
In the US, four out of every 10 businesses are either majority-owned, controlled or operated by women, according to a study by American Express.
There’s no doubt that many parts in Asia are catching up quickly, as women entrepreneurs are finding their way.
You may be a business owner already, or you may just be starting out. Wherever you are, here’s an opportunity to learn from the women who’ve made it.
1. Patience is key on the road to entrepreneurship
It often takes time for entrepreneurs to turn a profit. Sure, there are stories of overnight successes, but these are exceptions.
Leslie Fischer, founder of eco-friendly mattress company Sustainable Slumber, says, “I wish I would’ve known I’d have to invest a lot of work and time into my business before I started making any money.
Creating an online brand requires so many different skills: SEO, writing, social media know-how, etc. They all take time to hone and perfect and are necessary before you see any real money.”
One way to make sure of this, according to Vivienne Tang, founder and editor in chief of travel and wellness website Destination Deluxe, is to keep an eye on the budget, especially at the beginning.
She encourages women entrepreneurs to take advantage of the availability of outsourcing work to freelances, using co-working spaces, and marketing on social media sites to cut costs.
2. Failure is a gift and rejection is your teacher
Truth is, any aspiring successful entrepreneur will make mistakes along the way and experience their own share of rejection. That it will happen is not in question, what to do when it does, that is the crux of the matter.
Nicole Centeno, writer and founder of health and wellness site Splendid Spoon, shares her story. As an entrepreneur, she was trying to juggle running the business on her own, raising a toddler and an infant, and a strained marriage.
She says, “View failure as a gift. When the business is in pain, it will force you into submission, and if you listen, it will give back to you.”
What failing taught her was that she needed someone on board in the business alongside her.
“Sathish Naadimuthu, who is now our CMO, joined in July 2015, and we worked hard to make a significant pivot—moving the business from a primarily wholesale model to direct to consumer. Within a month of re-launching [the site], our business had quadrupled.”
3. Entrepreneurship is a team effort
Women are used to multitasking, and they’re really good at it. Too good, sometimes. Because as your business expands, chances are you are going to start needing to assemble a team.
Kiné Corder, founder of Presidential Lifestyle, says, “I was a one-woman show for too long. Aside from a web designer and a few apps, I was doing all the work.”
On hindsight, Corder wishes she had hired someone else to do marketing and accounting, as well as an administrative assistant and a lawyer for her business earlier, rather than waiting until the fifth year after she started her therapy practice.
Take note of Corder’s words, “I’m glad there are so many apps that kept me afloat until I could afford to make the commitment. But hiring gave me a team, and that’s what it means to be a business owner.”
4. Learn from other women entrepreneurs, and when you can, collaborate with them
Mentoring is a fabulous thing. Many female entrepreneurs find fellow women business owners who are helpful and willing to share their experiences. The onus is on you to reach out and give them the proverbial tap on the shoulder.
Tara Saltzburg started a business selling sleepwear for babies with sensitive skin, Westyn Baby, and says she’s went as far as she has because of help from other entrepreneurs.
“I’ve learned a tremendous amount just by reaching out to other small business owners to hear about their experiences — successes, failures, lessons learned.
For a long time, I thought I’d be burdening someone by asking to take a few minutes of their time, but I’ve learned that most people are more than willing, even eager, to share their experiences.”
5. For many women entrepreneurs, passion is at the heart of their businesses
One piece of advice that came up from women entrepreneurs repeatedly was this: follow your passion. You need to feel strongly about what you do, and when you follow your passion, your work gets elevated beyond the ordinary, and you have the strength to go through difficult times.
Stacey Tyler, who founded transportation and security consulting firm Interactive Intelligence Corporation, emphasises how important passion is from the get-go.
Once you start your journey, you have to be completely dedicated in order to even get the business off the ground.
There will be naysayers, and if you don’t have a good team around you it could be hard to push through — but most of this perseverance will come from within.
“You’ll know in your heart that you’ll have something good and that you want to change the world.”