There are an estimated 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States that employ nearly 9 million people and generate more than $1.7 trillion in revenues.
Source: The State of Women Owned Businesses Report; American Express
As female entrepreneurs, we’re always on the look out to connect with, share and learn from incredible women who have cultivated their own amazing brand, business, and name for themselves. There are so many of them out there! We’ve reached out to a few of our favorite personal and business inspirations, to ask them what the main challenges facing female entrepreneurs are, and to share a few tips with other women looking to start their own business.
Joyce Horn, of Joyce Horn Antiques, Ltd. says, “Women have to be tough. In this age of ‘the liberated woman’, the female entrepreneur must be strong and resilient. With the freedom to work outside of the home or to run your own business, comes the realization that not only do women maintain the traditional roles of homemaker, mother, wife, etc., but have also added the additional role of business owner. Be prepared to ask for, or arrange for, help on the home front – superwomen can be susceptible to burnout!”
“Carving out uninterrupted family time is crucial. For us, from dinner to bedtime was family time. I would stay up late or wake up early to play catch up for work.” says Leslie of Segreto Finishes.
“I was fortunate that my daughters were in high school when I started my business.” – says FOUND founder, Ruth Davis – “I didn’t have to juggle raising my children with starting a business. I’m in awe of the young women I know who seem to do it all effortlessly.
Davis continues: “I can truly say that the only time I felt discriminated against was when we were first looking for a space to lease. The leasing agents never returned my calls. My husband called from his place of work (a national retailer), and they called him back immediately! I take pleasure in knowing that I now get solicitation calls and emails from leasing agents.”
Sarah Eilers emphasizes the importance of experience: “Starting a business requires time – not to mention experience, which can go a long way. Working for someone else provides solid grounding, teaches you what to watch out for and mistakes to avoid. We see our background of working for another firm as a gratifying experience and a mentorship, and setting up our own business was just a continuation of that.”
But what are some of the key ingredients for success?
Joyce’s advice, “Love your product. It will show in what is produced. I have been lucky to be married to a man with an MBA and who loves numbers. Those of us who are driven by their right brain, and tend to gravitate to more creative endeavors, should line up a good accountant and CPA. Their input is essential to keep things real! Be committed and expect to be taken seriously!”
We couldn’t agree more. When starting out, it’s really important to know what your limitations are. Especially, if the ins and out of doing business wasn’t part of your education. Surround yourself with people that supplement your skill-set. You want to hire people who not only enhance what you’re doing, but help you get better and grow, too.
Ruth Davis adds: “Only do it, if you are passionate about the business. It’s a lot of work, and the financial rewards may not come right away. Learn to delegate. It’s not going to happen overnight, so learn to be patient. People love to share their knowledge. Don’t be afraid to ask.”
“With gratitude to my parents, I was taught some valuable lessons that paved the way for my becoming an entrepreneur.” – says Leslie Sinclair – “Many of these life lessons have helped me tremendously in navigating my career. Here are a few I’d like to share:
- If you can visualize something – dream it – you have the ability to make it happen.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Without failure there is no success.
- Do the very best at whatever you set out to do and opportunities will present themselves. You just have to notice them.
- Never work for money as your main goal. Do what you love. The rewards are higher.
- Learn something new every day. Learn especially from your mistakes.
- You are never too old to create! Keep your mind always open to new possibilities.”
“The only rule is that there are no rules. Anything is possible….It’s all about risk, deliberate risks.”
– Helen Frankenthaler