A couple of weeks ago we reached out to female entrepreneurs looking for insights into the transformations, revelations, and lessons about themselves arising in the first years after starting their businesses.
Go through their answers, check out their websites, and let us know what were the lessons you learned as a female entrepreneur. If you’re thinking about starting your own business, we hope these insights will help you have a clearer image of how things will play out.
Have a plan and put it into action
Dr. Kate Jameson is a Cosmetic Physician and the Medical Director and Founder of Youth Lab. Starting Youth Lab was a massive step in Dr. Jameson’s life and she found planning to be a big help in not becoming overwhelmed.
When you have to deal with everything from marketing to finance (and in my case medical procedures), becoming overwhelmed can certainly happen. I found that planning well in advance with a detailed business plan allowed me to consider things I would never have thought of before. Also, it helped me realize what I wasn’t great at or didn’t have the time for. As a result, I sourced a good bookkeeper and delegated the marketing side of things to my business partner – a big load off my mind!
It’s OK to discover entrepreneurship is not your calling
Michele Connolly is the author of How to Be Thin in a World of Chocolate. She has a Bachelor of Psychology and has written a thesis on personality and happiness, and she ran a marketing communications business thinking she was a businessperson who wrote, but she realized that entrepreneurship wasn’t the perfect path for her.
The confusing feelings of success and burnout soon showed me my passion was not entrepreneurship – it was writing. I now realize I’m a writer of comedic how-to content, who has to promote my work. As I’m an extreme introvert this has its own challenges! But at least now I’m working on the right things.
Accept that you can’t do everything
In the words of the leadership guru J. Maxwell, “if something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate.” That’s what Katrina-Jane also discovered after starting her business 7 years ago:
I have learned that I can’t do it all. Most importantly, spending hours trying to work something out actually isn’t an efficient way of doing things!! I outsource where I can to those that can do it quickly and efficiently, allowing me to focus on what I do best. It’s not easy to let go of things, we feel we need to do everything.
Have realistic goals
Jane Wilson, who is originally from London and moved to Melbourne more than 5 years ago, is a business manager, a mom, and a blogger. As the Melbourne Branch Manager of Fantastic Cleaners but also as a blogger, Jane learned that you need to prepare realistic goals unless you want to be disappointed in the end.
Many new business owners dream big, and they think that if they put enough effort, they will be able to turn those dreams into business goals and achieve them right away. The reality, unfortunately, is slow and full of bureaucracy and obstacles, which can make your plans go to waste. This is why it’s best to stay realistic and don’t give up when some difficulty comes your way.
Be ready to deal with conflicts
Suzanne Commerford helped run her husband’s businesses for years and she thought she was prepared when she made the decision two and half years ago to start her own company, but she found out that there’s a big difference between working for someone and owning your own business.
Starting Jim’s Interior Design was a challenge, as it was a franchised property styling business with a brand that was highly recognized but not everyone’s cup of tea. Because Suzanne was the final stop for all compliments, complaints, problems, and opportunities, she had to learn how to prioritize and let the little things go to stay focused on the big picture.
The biggest lesson I still need to learn has to do with the confidence to deal with conflicts. They arise every day in big and small ways and it’s easy to keep avoiding them but it always ends up hurting in the long run.
Even so, Suzanne is happy that she has the opportunity to use the Jim’s franchise to engage more women who are passionate about interior design, organizing and property styling.
Find your tribe and learn to collaborate
Caroline McMahon has been a Baby Sleep Specialist for over 15 years. She picked up many lessons along the way, and of those, many point in the same direction – finding your tribe, collaborating, surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and your business. She thinks you should:
Find someone that believes in you and your purpose just as much as you do. They will be a lifesaver on your dark days and someone to celebrate with your fabulous days. (This might just be your dog in the early days, that is OK, just drink the champagne yourself.)
She also talks about the importance of finding yourself a mentor, “to help you make and take advantage of opportunities that come your way.”
Look for a networking group that best reflects your own purpose and progression. You may need to take your time with this one but it’s well worth it. You will know when you find your ‘tribe’ and they will be a great assistance in helping you navigate ‘business’ – your way.
Kelly Hawke, the founder of Hawke & Co., a creative agency specializing in PR, content production, and events, also emphasizes the importance of having even just a rough list of business goals for the year and that of collaborating – whether that’s on a business level or a personal level.
Bouncing ideas off friends and other business owners, meeting with clients in person, gaining advice from mentors and just talking to people about your business ideas can really help you to stay motivated and inspired.
Tina Leigh McDonald has been managing large teams since 2002 and coaching people since 2003. As a professional coach and mentor running her own business, Tina, too, learned quite fast that community is very important.
I’d come from a corporate world where it was ‘dog eat dog’ but I quickly learned that in the online space, women were more likely to build you up, then tear you down.
Her advice for new entrepreneurs is to find a solid community, “you won’t go wrong. I owe so much of my success to those women who told me to go further, push harder and believed in me.”
Kirsten Rees reached the conclusion that self-care and success go hand in hand. As a female business owner with a chronic health condition, Kirsten initially kept her health issues under wraps, but soon had to face the truth – she was hiding part of herself and not being honest about her life and how she actually ran her business. She learned that she shouldn’t hide her health issue, and definitely not from her online community. She even wrote a business book aimed at people with invisible illnesses that will appear later this year.
I’ve learned the hard way to embrace my health and be myself with my online community. The feedback I’ve had has been incredible and it’s completely changed my business for the better. Becoming a sole trader can be a solitary career and so having support and a community of like-minded people around you whether as customers or other business owners can be uplifting and inspiring.
Today we’re ending our first blog post series dedicated to female entrepreneurs. If this is the first time you land on our blog, make sure to also check out the post in which we shared female entrepreneurs’ lessons around money and the one in which a startup founder, a beauty specialist, an illustrator, a transformational coach, a jewelry designer, and a business consultant share valuable insights.
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