How to Be Your Own Boss, According to 6 Top Female Founders
While the corporate sector continues to quarrel over the gender pay gap, women are cashing in with their own entrepreneurial skills. In fact, a recent Womenable report shows the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 57% and continues to climb. There are now an estimated 9.4 million female-founded enterprises, making up 30% of all U.S. businesses in every state and industry. The states with the fastest growth are Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, North Dakota, and New York. So what makes women extraordinary entrepreneurs? According to Forbes, research conducted by Zenger Folkman found “women make better leaders than men, they build better teams; and they’re more liked and respected as managers.” So in light of this research, we asked six groundbreaking women to share what it takes to be your own boss.
With a mission to empower women, Cantelo took the ultimate leap and resigned from her six-year stint as Vogue Australia's beauty and health director to launch her own website, Beauticate. Devoted to "the Whos," Beauticate (a fusion of beautify and educate) tells the story of inspiring individuals in their own spaces, sharing their beauty techniques, healthy habits, and fitness routines.
Make a Plan From the Beginning
“No matter what you’re doing, I think the common saying applies: 'If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.’ You don’t necessarily have to spend too much time writing a detailed business plan, or a complex financial model to get started, but you do need to really think about what’s happening in your market, what others are doing, what your point of difference is, and how you’re going to maintain your competitive advantage into the future. In addition to understanding your product or service, you need to think about the big picture, including marketing, finances, contracts, resources, etc. If you don’t like some of these things, or aren’t good at some of them (like me!), get help in those areas so you can focus on your strengths, but they all need to be done.”
Foster Emerging Talent
“Students, university grads, and interns are enthusiastic and eager to learn. Take them under your wing and teach them generously. If you nurture them, you will be rewarded with loyalty and some really fresh talent. Three of my current staff members started as interns, and they are now contributors on Beauticate, writing stories and designing layouts. Think about the kind of mentor you wished you had when you started out, and try and be that person.”
This popular L.A.-based blogger has her finger on the cyperspace pulse, covering street style, trends, beauty, and editorial for three blogs, including Le Fashion, Olsens Anonymous, and ETC. It’s why we enlisted her as a contributing editor for Who What Wear.
Don’t Compare Your Success to Others
“In the age of social media, it's easy to compare your level of success to that of your peers and those you look up to. While I know it's not easy, it's always good to check in with yourself when you’re feeling self-doubt, jealousy, or fear of failure, and remind yourself that that negativity is a waste of energy. Instead, try channeling that energy into motivating yourself and come up with something different, or work harder at your current work goals. What’s funny is that those same people are probably looking at you and your strengths and feeling just the same.”
Make a Schedule (and Follow It!)
“Being your own boss has its perks, of course, but the downside is that you have yourself to report to, and that often means there’s no one to keep you on task. Having a well-planned schedule to follow religiously throughout the week will help reduce the odds of you straying from the daily tasks at hand, and help keep you on track for future goals/projects. Since being an entrepreneur means you're on the grind 24/7, it can be a real struggle at times to have a moment to yourself. Even if it's just an hour a day, leave some time to read, meditate, or chat on the phone with a friend; it will give you time to relax and clear your head.”
Growing up in Queensland, Australia, Dianda was exposed to the beauty of natural light early on. She became captivated by it, and eventually this love manifested itself into a passion for photography. Now based in California, the ambitious Aussie has worked with some of the nation’s biggest brands, including Oakley, DC Shoes, Urban Decay Cosmetics, and Element Skateboards. She recently curated the Oakley in Residence “LA Woman” exhibition, an homage to women in skateboarding, starring six top female photographers and filmmakers. Her new love is stop-motion animation; keep an eye out for her next project.
Never Stop Learning From Anyone and Everyone
“Don’t ever let complacency enter your professional or personal life. There is always someone doing something amazing, and you can’t afford to rest on your laurels. There is always something new to learn, whether that be testing new technology or building your business intelligence, always look for how you can improve and what you can do to make your product or service better.”
Trust Your Instincts
“Learn the difference between ‘This doesn't feel right’ and ‘I'm scared.’ The first is your intuition, and you should always trust it. The second is a challenge that you must always step up to.”
Starting her career as a beauty editor for popular magazines like InStyle and Famous, Pendleton took a risk in 2010 to start her own beauty website, Gritty Pretty, and it paid off big time. On the back of GP’s success, the award-winning beauty editor saw a gap in the market and created Gritty Pretty, Australia’s first online beauty publication, with famous models Cheyenne Tozzi, Lara Bingle, and Jess Hart gracing the first three covers.
Be Daring; Be Different
“Nowadays, with technology and the rapidly growing world of digital, little is considered original—it’s mostly simply reinvented. But, if you can find a real point of difference, don’t just own it; hone in on it, nurture it, and perfect it. This is where, for the most part, you can really make serious income. I created and launched Gritty Pretty Magazine, Australia’s first online publication dedicated to beauty, because I looked to the market and saw a gap. I created a publication and product that didn’t yet exist, and I put that—and the people around me—down to its success. Also, understand that it won’t be a walk in the park, but that’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur: Being your own boss offers a sense of fulfillment few jobs can match. Be daring and be brave.”
Accept That You Will Make Mistakes
“Part of being a successful entrepreneur is learning the art of juggling. You will have moments where you’ll be so busy, you’ll wish you had three clones of yourself, but as that’s simply not possible, learning how to divide your time intelligently will benefit you (and your family and relationships) in the long run. Entrepreneurs are leaders, and leaders require emotional stamina—making and learning from mistakes is all part of the process towards success. I find educating myself on as much business as possible has helped shaped my growth into an entrepreneur. Listen to TED Talks and read the works of other inspiring female entrepreneurs, such as Arianna Huffington and Sheryl Sandberg.”
In four years, what started out as a fitness blog with quick and easy workout tips for women on the go quickly expanded into a holistic lifestyle site with advice on wellness, food, style, and beauty. The San Diego native is now a published author of The Skinny Confidential book and has a nutrition and fitness guide and her own YouTube channel. Lauryn hopes to eventually expand The Skinny Confidential site offline into product and TV, and potentially launch an online magazine.
The Upside-Down Triangle
“The number one mistake I see new entrepreneurs make is—wait for it—thinking TOO big. Everyone I've ever encountered who's successful in business started small with a niche idea and grew outward. My theory is an upside-down triangle. Start with one really great idea, build it up to be the best damn idea you've ever seen (in its space), and slowly move outward to the bigger picture. Start small, grow big. Growing takes time; it's taken me four years so far.”
Manifest Your Ideas; Then Execute
“An idea is just an idea, which is just an idea. An idea is great, but it needs to be manifested, grown, and, most importantly executed. The deeper into the business world I get, the more I'm motivated to execute. Talking about ideas is fun and creative, but actually doing, making, and creating them is a completely different thing. I talked about the idea of The Skinny Confidential for a year before my fiancé, Michael, looked at me and said, ‘Lauryn, pull the f*cking trigger or stop talking about it.’ Finally, after that conversation, I published my first blog post. Eek!”
With their mutual love for redefining spaces, Christina and Jess combined their creative talents to found We Are Triibe. The designer duo loves to push traditional design boundaries into new, contemporary territories, which can be seen in the retail fit out of the new Aje fashion store in Brisbane, Australia. They also host design workshops and have started their own product range, including artisanal candles with soy wax and 100% handmade ceramic cases.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
“Striking it out on your own is risky. When we quit our part-time jobs and took the plunge to go full-time on We Are Triibe, it was one of the scariest days of our lives. Our credit cards were maxed out from all the money we had spent to start up the business, we had no personal savings left, and we only had a couple of months worth of pay in our business account to rely on. It was nerve-racking taking the plunge, but we knew that it was either now or never.
“Sometimes you have to leave all of your inhibitions behind you in order to create what you really want. It’s those moments that make us feel uneasy that help us to grow, and the more you practice doing things that are out of your comfort zone, the easier it gets. So take a risk; it doesn’t need to be a huge leap of faith straight away, but don’t play it too safe.”
Remember Why You Started
“Know your ‘why.’ We Are Triibe started because we wanted to create products and spaces that we love for the like-minded. For us that meant not trying to please everyone, but to always stay true to what we loved and therefore attract a like-minded community, a Triibe. Our ‘why’ is what drove our business name, it’s what made us want to share our industry knowledge with other people, and it’s how our #TriibeTips were born. Understand your ‘why’ and stay true to it. Every time you feel like you are veering off track, realign and ask yourself what triggered you to start.”
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