There are currently 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States. With 45% growth in the number of female-founded companies since 2007, we are truly living up to the Beyoncé song [*Insert personal “Who run the world? Girls!” concert*].
To put this in context, with over 27 million small businesses in the country, it seems we’re just shy of 50%; and this makes tomorrow even more special. August 26th is Women’s Equality Day – and if you’re a woman looking to get her own company off the ground or make it to the C-suite – it might just be the most important holiday you celebrate this year.
It all started in 1971, at the request of House Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY). The goal was to commemorate the passage of the 19th amendment – which gave women the right to vote – and to bring awareness to women’s continued journey towards full equality. Forty-six years later, and the holiday and the movement are still going strong.
To celebrate this important day we interviewed 10 female founders for their tips on how to succeed in business. We hope the below is helpful, enjoyable, and, of course, empowering!
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for young women looking to start a career in business or entrepreneurship?
Natasha Case, co-founder, Coolhaus: So much of starting a business or a career is about confidence and vision. Don’t be afraid to share your vision widely and take the leap. I think many women tend to be risk-averse. We need to get comfortable with risk and stop apologizing. Just do it!
Christy Doramus, founder, Crowns by Christy: I think that the first lesson every aspiring business owner must understand is that things don’t always go your way. Something will always go wrong. ALWAYS. Planning and strategy help to prevent major disasters, but it takes a resourceful and hard-working person to solve the day-to-day hiccups and a positive attitude to keep the vision alive without ever giving up.
Jessica Matlin & Jennifer Goldstein, co-founders, Fat Mascara podcast: Don’t be afraid to call out the mansplainers you will undoubtedly encounter as you start up your business and rise in your career. Also: Read everything you sign, do your research, and trust your instincts.
Eleanor Langston, founder, Paintbox: Be as curious as possible! Ask questions along the way, think big-picture, network as much as possible, and remember to be authentic. Also, kindness is underrated –staying humble, genuine, and honest along your journey is incredibly important. And lastly – do your research, develop a clear vision for your goals, and then go for it. Stay really focused on your idea, and don’t try to please every single person on the way – if you truly believe in your idea, it’s imperative that you stick to your gut and just keep moving in a forward direction.
Rebecca Atwood, founder, Rebecca Atwood Designs: There are so many free and inexpensive resources out there today on both the internet and in books. Read a lot. One of the things I love about running my own business is that I’m constantly learning. It’s a journey — and it’s challenging. There’s also no substitute for hands on experience. Work for others in the field you want to be in. You’ll learn invaluable information about how your industry work s —even if it’s not your “dream job.” Every job is a chance to learn something and connect with others. It’s so important to have a support system.
Rachel Jo Silver, founder, LoveStoriesTV: The most powerful tool in your toolbox is your network. You need to develop real and genuine relationships with people you respect and admire (both peers and more senior people). That means going out of your way to help people you believe in. Helping other people is rewarding and, the people you support wills support you in return. The help I’ve received from my network has made all of the difference in starting my business.
Jaime Barker & Megan Balch, co-founders, Flagpole swimwear: Take yourself as seriously as you want other people to take you. The only thing you can control is what you do. The journey to success takes relentless perseverance and a fighting belief in self-worth. And when you fail, and we all do, realize that failure is learning, not the end. When you go again, you will have more wisdom and experience to challenge yourself and take your idea even further. And most importantly, never forget that you are not alone. We are here with you, all of us, and we expect you to share your experience so we can all keep growing together.
Amanda Cohen, owner, Dirt Candy: Be honest and be open. I’m tired of women having to present an edited, airbrushed, camera-ready version of themselves to the world. The day I was honest about my life and my restaurant, the day I told people I was scared, the day I shared my numbers, I felt exposed and vulnerable, like I was falling. But so many people came up to me afterwards and said they felt that way too. There were so many hands there to catch me. And they all belonged to women.