Being an entrepreneur is difficult. It means your mind doesn’t stop and that you’re constantly thinking “what if I…”, “what if we…”, “I wonder if we could…”. It happens at 3am, it happens in the middle of dinner, it happens in the middle of your kids’ concerts. Your mind just doesn’t stop. A true entrepreneur is always creating, always developing and always thinking, thinking, thinking.
But, did you know that only about 35% of entrepreneurs today are women? I started wondering why that may be. Is it because we’re only now just starting to stand our ground and speak our minds? Have we just recently found our voice in a sea of men and started to speak loud enough to be heard? Are we finally able to rise about the noise and the words that countless people throw at us and stand tall to forge on?
When I first started Hot Mama I had an advisory board who said I would do “pretty well” because I had “a pretty face an okay idea”. True story.
Um…excuse me…what? Oh…I see…you men sitting on my advisory board throwing pens at one another when you disagree is a much better way for the business world to grow and change the world, am I getting that straight?
Please tell me you read that previous sentence with extreme sarcasm.
I left meeting after advisory board meeting confused, irritated and ready to quit. Until I decided to take back my power, stand my ground, leave that advisory board and do things my way, with strong women walking beside me.
Have I made mistakes since then? Um yes. YAAAAS, have I ever. And, no matter what I do, no matter how much I try to rise above the nonsense, there’s always this little niggle, pulling at just one strand of my hair, irritating me enough that I still pay attention to its annoyance.
I have learned a lot in the 4.5 years I’ve worked as an entrepreneur. Some lessons are easy to learn and others are so hard that I’m still trying to wrap my head around them. But, for all my newbie women entrepreneurs, you won’t be the first nor the last to hear some of the things you’ll be told as you grow your business and break new ground. You’ll be told you’re not enough, you’re too much, you’re too soft, you’re a bitch, you’re condescending, you’re being silly (that one kills me), that your ideas are cute but not well thought-out and yes, you may actually be asked if you’re making decisions during “your hormone time”. These are all words of wisdom I have received and silenced.
But, no matter how quickly you silence them, every now and then they pull that one piece of hair to remind you to doubt yourself every now and then. And should you? Should you doubt yourself? Absolutely. I think doubt reframes our decisions and the way we work. Is there a better way to do something? Have you been open to suggestions? Are you communicating your expectations correctly? Once you can review your own process and leadership…you cut that strand of hair and move on.
So, to all the women entrepreneurs out there I have a lot to say to you and this will only be the tip of the iceburg, If you’d like to chat more about being a woman entrepreneur, my door is always open to you.
But for now, know this:
- Your face does not make you successful or unsuccessful, your brain, ideas and your perseverance does.
- Do NOT say “sorry” when you’re asking for work to be done (e.g. “Sorry, but can you fix this typo on this super important email”). Don’t. Don’t do that.
- Do not use the word “just” when you’re asking for work to be done. (e.g. “I’m just wondering if you’re able to come in for a meeting to discuss…”. No, “When are you available to meet to discuss…I’m available ______.”).
- You are working hard enough and no, your children are not suffering from neglectfulness.
- You are going to make mistakes. Apologize when you need to. Move on.
- Do NOT apologize when you know you’re right, stand your ground and keep your standards.
- You’re going to be told you’re being a bitch when you need to make hard decisions. Make the decisions anyway.
- Not everyone is going to like you. Be okay with that.
- Find women who do like you and will support you no matter what. Even during the times when you’re in complete upheaval…you’ll need them most then.
- Fight for your company and the standards you have.
- Be the bitch, be the lover, be kindness, be strong, be fierce, be YOU.
- The team you start with will not be the team you end up with. Be okay with that. For them and for you. Be okay.
- As your company grows, your role will need to change. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Move on.
- Believe in your company, believe in your strengths and find a team you love and respect to help you drive a successful business.
- Business is not a solo career…you’ll need people. Show appreciation or lose them.
- Do the work, be gracious and always, always, always support other women entrepreneurs.
- Love. Love your life. If you don’t…change something.
I could write a book on this, but I think this is a good start.
One last thing: as an entrepreneur, the weight of your company’s success is on your shoulders and it is absolutely one of the loneliest places to live. Know that loneliness is part of entrepreneurship. I’ve been told this and felt this, so you need to build a team that has your back, that supports you, that inspires you. I am lucky enough to have 30 women walking beside me on my journey. The importance of a strong tribe supporting you is not something to be overlooked…it is imperative to success.
Stay strong, my fellow entrepreneur warriors. I’m right here battling beside you.