In 2018, women owned 12.3 million businesses in the United States alone, that’s 20X more than the 402,000 women-owned businesses back in 1972. In the private-sector alone, women employed 9.2 million people. These are huge achievements for women everywhere.
You may be an aspiring entrepreneur, but those calling the shots will tell you it’s not as easy as it looks.
You can’t just read a book on how to be an entrepreneur and instantly become an expert on small business management.
If only it were that easy.
So in the spirit of Women’s History Month, I gathered 25 successful female entrepreneurs to share different business tips and the entrepreneurship quotes they live by.
Sandra Makarem is the founder of The Collective Child, a luxury shopping service for children’s wear. Before starting her business, she worked as a buyer and planner at Bloomingdale’s where she oversaw the launch and development of new brands.
Here’s her advice to other female entrepreneurs, especially those who want to break into the fashion industry.
Don’t Strive for Perfection
A lot of people start their business thinking they need to develop a perfect product or service. But this perfectionism and overthinking can stifle your growth or prevent you from even launching in the first place.
Makarem cautions aspiring entrepreneurs, “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.”
There’s a reason why “fail fast” is a mantra for startups. You won’t learn how to be an entrepreneur perfecting your business plan on a moleskine notebook.
She admits, “My company’s success wasn’t found in years of developing a flawless service before launching. Instead, I quickly executed a series of small steps that validated my good ideas and exposed my bad ones.”
Sure, you have to research your market and know that your offer solves a real problem. But there’s no way you can know everything in advance. It’s better to learn by doing.
Mintz is the founder of Elevate My Brand, a Los Angeles-based marketing agency.
As a veteran marketer, she’s all too familiar with the imposter syndrome entrepreneurs and anybody trying to do something new feels. Her advice will enlighten you on the truth about this unpleasant feeling.
Everybody is Faking It
‘Fake it til you make it,’ is probably one of the most popular entrepreneurship quotes for anyone trying something new.
I know it’s easy to feel the effects of imposter syndrome when you’re just starting out in the entrepreneurial world. Don’t let this stop you.
Mintz explains, “Maybe you feel like you’re not enough or that you don’t belong but the truth is everyone feels this way. No matter how successful and put together they project themselves to be, they’re also working hard behind the scenes to thrive.”
Tina Urquhart founded CharmCity Concierge to build workplace experiences across the DC and Mid-Atlantic region. Her company uses a combination of on-site management and virtual platforms to create technology and concierge services for workplaces.
Her advice on mindfulness is perfect for building a supportive and non-toxic team.
Don’t Forget to be Grateful and Mindful
Gratefulness and mindfulness might sound a little woo-woo to you, but your attitude towards work and the people around you does affect your business.
Urquhart advises, “Be genuine and joyful with your work. Weave this into how you communicate, lead, and serve your clients. A small business management strategy centered on gratefulness will help you attract like-minded people and build a culture that supports not just your business’s growth, but your personal growth as well.”
Fischer is the CEO of Lyda Beauty and inventor of the now viral Cleopatra Cat Eye Stamp.
Don’t Take their Word for It
Fischer approached about 70 companies for her eyeliner product and almost all of them told them it can’t be done. But she was determined to get her product manufactured.
If there’s a secret on how to become successful, it’s grit. Grit and consistency.
After several rejections and the occasional door-slamming, Fischer’s cat eye stamp eventually made it to market.
“If you want to learn how to be an entrepreneur, don’t believe in the naysayers”, says Fischer.
Some lack imagination and some just automatically say no because they haven’t seen anything like it. You’ll always encounter resistance when your product is the first of its kind.
Kayla Goldstein is an NYC-based architectural engineer and interior designer. Her small business advice will resonate with a lot of solopreneurs who feel overwhelmed with everything they have to do or are yet to accomplish for their business.
Know that You’re Enough
Goldstein shared this entrepreneurship quote she learned from a business bootcamp, “Focus on what you have and it will be enough.”
Sounds simple enough but what does it mean exactly?
Goldstein explains, “Instead of hedging your actions based on what you don’t have with thoughts like ‘when I get that client’ or ‘when I hire someone,’ it’s better to just focus your efforts on what you have now and what you could accomplish with it.”
So if you have a laptop, you can get a couple of side gigs online. If you have some contacts, you can email to ask if they’d be interested in your products or services.
Learning how to be an entrepreneur also means learning how to be resourceful with what you have.
Komlos is the founder and CEO of Pangea Dreams, an industry leader on educational and creative retreats for women.
There are tons of business tips and small business management advice on how to squash your competitors. After all, for your business to win, someone else has to lose, right? This is the scarcity mindset and while it sounds logical on the surface it’s a very limiting belief as Komlos will attest.
Shift to an Abundance Mentality
Komlos explains, “Shifting my mindset from a scarcity mentality to an abundance mentality opened up so many opportunities and experiences.”
There’s always more in life, be it customers, money, resources, or talented employees.
Komlos adds, “Coming from an abundance mindset has allowed me to be super open and generous with my time. So much more comes back when you give from a place of abundance and love.”
Jill Winger is the author and founder of the Prairie Homesteader, where she teaches people how to become successful homesteaders with lessons on raising chickens, building gardens, and other methods of becoming self-sufficient.
As an author and homesteader, Winger is all too familiar with the many challenges life can throw at you. Growing a garden and raising livestock can be frustrating for a newbie but these frustrations can teach you a valuable lesson.
Get Back Up
Winger explains, “After a decade of running businesses, I’ve learned that it’s not about who has the most talent or who starts with the biggest nest egg. Rather, it’s about who can get knocked down repeatedly and keep going. Grit trumps talent, every single time.”
No matter how hard it gets, dust yourself off and get back up. Show up consistently and try to get better each day. You’ll outlast and outshine the competition soon enough.
Frances Geoghegan is the Managing Director and founder of Healing Holidays, Europe’s leading provider of spa and wellness tours.
As a pioneer in Europe’s luxury wellness industry, Geoghegan understands the value and challenges of taking risks. For her, having a talented team can make all the difference when it comes to small business management.
Build a Talented Team
She explains, “You will have to take big risks in your business at some point. The hardest part is calculating if the risk is worth taking, and not making reckless decisions because you’re under pressure.”
This is where having a solid and dependable team will come in handy.
Geoghegan adds, “A talented team can often help you make the right decision in troubled times. They can show you a different perspective of the situation.”
Even if you’re the one with the idea and the funding, you can’t learn how to be an entrepreneur on your own. You’ll learn that along the way as you’re managing your team and business. You need to be able to trust the people you’re with on this journey.
Kimberly Maska is the CEO of Maska Media and Spiritual Biz Publishing. She helps spiritual coaches turn their gifts into lucrative businesses while still remaining authentic to themselves.
Lots of extensive surveys and small business management books have been written on the power of good customer service.
“The customer is always right” is perhaps one of the most widely practiced business tips out there, especially in service based businesses where employees work for tips.
But in businesses where part of the work is dependent on the customer, it’s not always the case.
This is beautifully illustrated in coaching, consulting, or training businesses.
We are All 100% Responsible
Maska explains, “If a customer has a complaint, my team and I take 100% responsibility for our role. But I also hold the customer 100% responsible for theirs.”
According to her, many issues from coaching clients arise as a result of giving up due to sheer frustration. But as a coach, it’s also her team’s job to hold their customers responsible for their actions.
“There’s a beautiful shift when customers realize they’re not holding themselves to a standard of excellence so they can reach their highest potential.”
Maska says this strategy helped her turn one frustrated client into one of her biggest advocates.
Tasia Duske is the CEO of Museum Hack. Her career started in clinical psychology but she made the shift to “organizational therapy” when she realized that big corporations need love and support in their hierarchies, too.
Have you ever felt like you were failing your team and clients if you didn’t answer their questions all day, every day?
That’s how Duske felt much of her career.
Duske says, “My mindset was that my clients and team needed all of me. I modeled myself after Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.”
Whether you’re a practitioner of the “hands-on ” small business management approach, or you just feel like The Giving Tree, loosening the reins a little bit may be more productive than you realize.
Build a Team that Doesn’t Need You
For Duske, it was better to build a team that didn’t rely on her for every single thing.
She continues, “Instead of trying to help them fix day-to-day problems, I took a longer view to help employees develop their own problem-solving and small business management skills.”
This strategy not only improved her emotional health, but it also increased their month-on-month revenue and team satisfaction scores.
Giving employees ownership of their own role is the best thing frazzled entrepreneurs can do. Knowing how to delegate is part of learning how to be an entrepreneur, too.
Tate is the founder of Miss Now Mrs, a service she created after her frustrating experience in changing her last name.
Tate wants other aspiring entrepreneurs to realize the value of their mistakes and failures instead of just wallowing in it.
Find Business Ideas in Your Failures and Mistakes
“Failure is an opportunity in disguise,” says Tate when asked about entrepreneurship quotes she lives by.
Tate failed to change her last name on her day off. But instead of feeling frustrated and leaving it at that, Tate realized that other people might want to avoid the same negative experience.
It turns out, she was right. Tate has helped half a million new brides change their last name.
She continues, “As your business grows, look at internal failures as opportunities to fix, innovate, and grow. If you want to learn how to be successful, don’t be complacent in your business.”
Melissa is the cofounder and CEO of RetailZipline. Before starting her business, she worked in the US retail industry to help stores execute the marketing and standards of their brand. She started RetailZipline after realizing the disconnect between upper management and in-store execution was ineffective communication.
Say Thank You and Show Employees You Appreciate Them
The retail industry has a uniquely high employee turnover rate of 60% — other industries hover at just 15%. This loss of talent translates to roughly $19 billion in recruiting, training, and hiring costs and about 230 million days of lost productivity.
Wong says, “Unfortunately, low margins and unpredictable sales performance make it difficult for retail businesses to give employees a bonus or salary increase, which is a common small business management strategy to improve employee engagement.”
Wong suggests there are other business tips and strategies to fight high employee turnover. She explains, “Research shows that employees today stick with companies that provide professional advancement opportunities such as training and promotion opportunities.”
Showing employees a clear path on how to become successful within your organization is a proven way to get loyal employees. But if you don’t have the budget to invest in training programs, recognizing an employee’s contribution goes a long way too.
Wong adds, “Employees feel more satisfied with their day-to-day work when the people they work with show appreciation for their efforts.”
You can also set-up a weekly schedule where your employees can pat each other on the backs for their accomplishments. It won’t just make them feel appreciated, it also creates a small business management culture of appreciation, teamwork, and respect.
Christine Outram is CEO of Everydae.com, a digital SAT tutor for high school students that only takes 10 minutes a day for each session.
Her small business advice is perfect for entrepreneurs in a competitive market, or those having challenges making decisions for their business.
The Speed and Money Test
“How do I promote my offer?”
Google “How to promote my business” and you’ll find a zillion business tips on how to promote every kind of business on every platform or media imaginable.
Many of these avenues will look exciting, so you’ll probably end up trying multiple strategies or everything at once.
You’ll be so busy, you won’t be able focus your attention on any one strategy to make it work. That’s time and money down the drain.
To save funds, Outram suggests new entrepreneurs should make their decisions based on the speed and money test.
She explains, “Write down your options first then rank them based on how fast they can give you results and the investment needed to see said results. Then focus on the cheapest or fastest option first before trying other business tips or marketing advice.”
After building six private addiction treatments, Lisa Lannon pivoted to another sector affected by drug abuse, military personnel and veterans. She co-founded Warriors Heart with her husband Josh Lannon and Former Special Forces Tom Spooner.
With multiple businesses under her resume, Lannon has the most un-sexy yet logical small business advice for all entrepreneurs.
Get a Bookkeeper Early
It’s easier to make small business management decisions when your financial books are in order.
Lannon adds, “Business plans and projections are great but they’re always moving. So it’s best to meet with your bookkeeper at least once a week to get real time numbers from your business.”
Yes, getting a bookkeeper isn’t one of those mind blowing business tips. But this advice can also save you many sleepless nights and financial nightmares.
Wendy O’Donovan started as a freelance healthcare marketing writer in 2007 with her dentist as her first client. Two years later, she had 10 clients and three employees. Through consistency and hard work, what once was a one-woman team is now a million dollar agency serving a diverse range of healthcare companies.
Mind the Distractions
Like everyone who works online, O’Donovan was often distracted by a lot of things, especially exciting ‘new projects’ and ‘ideas’ that she would then pass on to her small business management team to execute.
She recalls, “I once gave my team six initiatives to focus on for us to accomplish our goals. I emphasized that no matter what happens, this is what they should focus on.”
A week later, she told her team that she wants to write a book.
“This is going to be fun! We can each write a chapter,” she said to get her team on board. This book wasn’t one of her initiatives and it’s not even on the business’s annual plan.
While the book isn’t connected to her plan, it might be reasoned away as a good marketing strategy. But O’Donovan also fell prey to other distractions, such as make-up and clothes—pretty distractions that made her morning prep time unnecessarily longer.
To free up her mind for what matters most, she had to learn how to let go of distractions. To save time in the morning, she only wears three items of make up each day. She also has a self-imposed uniform of a blouse and blazer combo that she pairs with the same pants.
As for random ideas that catch her attention, O’Donovan does her best to let go of these exciting but irrelevant business tips and projects. She keeps herself focused on what’s important.
Michele Mirman is a Founding Member of Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C. She’s the President of the New York State Trial Lawyers, and is known as one of the best negligence trial lawyers in the country.
As a long-time lawyer, she knows how tough and sometimes heartless the industry is. Her advice on how to become successful is relevant for entrepreneurs in all industries.
No Matter the Size of the Deal, Listen and Be Compassionate
Mirman is a tough negotiator with a history of winning big settlements for her clients. Despite her hectic schedule, she makes sure to hear out each client regardless of the size of their claim.
“Women can bring a sense of compassion, understanding, and a willingness to listen to every interaction they have, no matter how tough or stressful the situation is. Clients prize these qualities, whether you’re a lawyer, doctor, or service provider.”
It’s so typical nowadays for customers to feel like they’re just “numbers” to the companies that serve them. Unless their complaint goes viral on social media, they rarely feel heard.
That’s why brands with good small business management and customer service protocols quickly rise through the competition. Word of mouth from the customers that love you will spread like wildfire.
Harvey decided to reinvent cooking stock after she realized that chefs are some of the most unhealthiest people because of their focus on flavor instead of nutrients.
Since stock is the base of all cooking, Harvey thought it’s the best medium to show people that flavorful, farm-to-table food can be nutritious as well. And from there Bare Bones Broth was born.
Harvey’s cooking stock was unique in a market of mass produced, very unhealthy options.
But her business wasn’t always successful. She had to learn how to become successful in retail through tough choices and negotiations.
“Everything is negotiable. If you don’t negotiate for more than you’re offered, you’re selling yourself short,” advises Harvey.
Harvey learned this valuable small business advice two years ago when they had to change their product’s positioning in the market— a move that almost put them out of business.
She recalls, “One month we were expecting about $100K in receivables but after deductions the actual payment was just about $3k. Instead of folding, we reached out to all our suppliers and requested an extension of payment terms.”
It was a tough time for their business but they eventually managed to pay off the debt in the next six months.
Harvey adds, “It was an expensive, time-consuming and scary transition. But we needed to do it to remain viable.”
If she didn’t negotiate, her brand wouldn’t have survived and it won’t be available in many Costco, Whole Foods, and other major supermarkets.
As a solopreneur in the music industry, Mella Barnes wears many hats. She’s a full-time session singer, voice actor, and producer.
Like many solo-preneurs, she also knows how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking you can do everything on your own.
Find What You’re Bad at
Doing it all isn’t good for your business, especially if things are falling through the cracks.
Barnes explains, “Knowing what you are not good at is important because there’s no honor in being a one-woman show if half of the show is falling apart!”
Her advice? If you need an accountant, a graphic designer, an assistant, or a writer, go find them. There are people all over the internet offering business tips that can help you.
If you’re really scared whoever you hire does it wrong or has no experience in small business management, then you can just create detailed instructions for each task. Give an example of what you want to see in the final product, too.
As a writer, Senapaty has traveled on her own to Africa, Asia, New Zealand and other countries, and it was then that she realized not all women have the courage or confidence to travel like she did.
In 2005, she started Women on Wanderlust, a club that encourages women to travel solo. Aside from helping women overcome their fears of traveling via group tours and a safe community, she also takes pride in the friendships that formed as a result of her community.
As a travel expert, it’s not surprising that her tips for small business owners are also related to the wonders of taking a vacation.
Take a Break and Don’t Skip on Vacations
The best way to cope with burnout and extreme stress is to hit pause and step back, explains Senapaty.
Admittedly, a vacation isn’t always possible because of time and financial constraints. If that’s the case, Senapaty suggests going out of the office or listening to music.
That said, she also stresses the value of taking time off from work.
She adds, “When you have time off work available, take it. Disconnect from all tech devices and stop checking your email.”
She’s right. It’s hard to relax and get your mind on “vacation mode” if you’re always checking your mail. It’s also easier to work when your mind is refreshed.
Allison Bernstein helps real estate buyers from the city find the perfect suburban village that fits their needs, lifestyle, and budget.
As a real estate expert, she understands how having a family will affect all your decisions whether it’s for your business or family life.
Realize the Opportunity Cost
Bernstein shares, “Once you’re a parent, your decisions and time are not your own anymore. Before, spending 3 nights a week on business dinners might be okay. Working through the weekend might be okay. That changes when you have children.”
Right now, you’re probably just starting to learn how to be an entrepreneur. Your priority might be to get your business up and running first. But with the right technology and monetization strategies, you can actually minimize time spent in your business so you can focus on your family.
Serra started Birdy Boutique with her sister Barbara because of their love for sewing projects. Their store, Birdy Boutique, sells sewing patterns for car seat ponchos, accessories, and birthday outfits for kids.
As small business owners, Serra is familiar with the desire to do everything yourself. But she’s also learned the value of trusting others to do the work.
Don’t be Afraid to Delegate
She explains, “One thing that has helped tremendously is delegating tasks and hiring extra help, even if part time. As moms and entrepreneurs, we want to do it all ourselves. But it’s so much healthier and easier to outsource other small business management tasks.”
Serra admitted that it was hard at first to allow someone else to perform some tasks for her business but the increased productivity eventually convinced her it’s the right way to go.
Dora Lau was a pioneer in a male dominated industry, manufacturing.
Lau’s business idea was born due to her frustrations with the limited design options and exorbitant prices for women’s lingerie. She wanted to shake up the industry.
As an experienced designer and manufacturer, her business tips are on point for other aspiring product designers.
Design for Your Target Customer
Don’t design products based on what you think is useful or beautiful.
Lau explains, “Unfortunately, many designers only create designs for themselves without considering their customer’s needs, comfort-level and price-sensitivity.”
Utility and aesthetics aren’t the only concerns when you’re creating a new product. Unless your product is a brand new invention, you will have competitors with the same features or design.
Sofya is the CEO and cofounder of The Noun Project, a diverse marketplace for iconography, and the cofounder and COO of Lingo, a digital asset manager for brands.
As an executive for many startups, she’s aware of people’s tendency to hype up their ideas or get overly excited with opportunities. Heed her advice whenever you’re tempted to fund a pitch or follow a small business advice you heard from someone you barely know.
Take Every Piece of Advice and Information with a Grain of Salt
Polyakov explains, “If you’re lucky, you’ll have conversations with some of the brightest and most successful minds in the industry. It’s tempting to jump into executing their advice because you’ve heard of their previous wins.”
But no one knows or cares about your business as deeply as you do.
Polyakov continues, “Take the time to thoroughly evaluate how their advice applies to your particular business and situation. No mentor, investor, or advisor will ever know better than you.”
This isn’t limited to advice from investors. Exercise the same caution with the books, courses, or seminars you read, whether it’s beginner lessons on how to be an entrepreneur or advance business tips on how to scale your profits.
Amber Henrie is a PR specialist and the CEO of In the Lights, a marketing agency for arts, culture, and fitness organizations.
As an industry practitioner, Henrie knows the value of marketing and knows how important it is for entrepreneurs in search of funding.
Investors Need to See a Marketing Plan
Henrie suggests, “Fundraising and grants aren’t enough. If investors don’t see a marketing plan, they won’t fund you.”
Her agency has worked with clients with big operating budgets that are only spending $1000 towards their marketing. Their customers and small business management team might be happy now because of their performance. But what happens when a deal falls through?
With new businesses popping up, and with the economy as it is, you can’t afford to be lax.
PRO TIP: Don’t limit yourself to the traditional marketing platforms out there. Build your network by reaching out to like-minded individuals in your industry. Here are 10 niche social media sites for you to join.
Fry is the Founder and CEO of Gentreo, an estate planning company that provides affordable digital estate planning services for families.
As someone with experience in delicate matters like estate planning, Fry knows too well that everyone likes giving advice, be it business tips, budgeting lessons, or fitness hacks. But not every piece of advice is worth heeding.
Test Your Advisor’s Commitment
Fry explains, “Everyone will want to be your advisor. Test them first to make sure they can be there for you when you have problems. Make sure they will tell you the truth and that they have the time to help make you successful.”
She’s right. There are many incubators, venture companies, and angel investors out there. You can say no when it doesn’t feel right.
If their business tips can help you grow at the risk of over-stretching your team, speak up. If their small business management advice doesn’t fit in with your company’s culture, choose another advisor. You need to be able to trust who you work with.
Many women suffer from imposter syndrome and perfectionism, while some struggle to speak up or share their success stories.
Whatever challenges you face, I hope the success stories and business tips from the women in this article helped you.
One day, you’ll also inspire other women with your success story.
Goodwall is a social network that helps students and young entrepreneurs connect with like-minded individuals. Using our 30-second pitch feature, you can record a video of your idea and share it with other users on Goodwall. You can get feedback for your ideas, find a mentor, or even get funding.
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