This month we read Dear Female Founder: 66 Letters of Advice from Women Entrepreneurs Who Have Made $1 Billion in Revenue for the IGC Book Club. The Letters include an international selection of Female Founders which I found to be interesting. It was exciting to read about the level of talent, creativity and inspiration this group embodies.
In the book, the editor Lu Li divides the letters into 3 different categories: Start, Learn and Reflect. My letter to you “Dear Female Founder” will touch these elements. Much of what I will impart appeared as themes from many of the expert female founders in the book.
Know Your Why: It’s the deep Why that will give you direction in your entrepreneurial pursuit and it’s the reason you’ll keep going when it gets tough. I read once you should never start a business just to make money – you start a business to make a difference. Your desire to make a difference is what keeps you going.
Believe in Yourself and Your Unique Gifts: Each one of us has unique gifts that make us uniquely talented entrepreneurs. We must BELIEVE that and, in our abilities, to deliver the dream of founding our own business. When we fail to believe in ourselves, our mindset is not set for the level of work and commitment needed to persevere through risks and instability that comes hand in hand with a startup or as you are just starting out.
Don’t delay starting – Begin Where You Are: It takes a leap of faith to go out on your own and there will never be a good time for that leap, it will not be perfect, nor will everything be perfectly aligned to take the leap to entrepreneurship. Begin today, right where you are. Your passion and gut will drive your motivation. Resist the need for perfection, as it will delay your brilliance from getting out into the world.
Ask for Help! Whether it’s engaging a business partner or a community of other entrepreneurs, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Being able to verbalize your struggles and get support will help when you need to make a difficult decision. Too often we treat entrepreneurship as a solo adventure. Even small tasks require the assistance of others. Personally, this is one of the areas I struggled with – not wanting to show I didn’t know how to “do it all” I suffered in silence way to long in the beginning.
Tenacity and Sacrifice is Required: You will make mistakes – it’s a certainty. You must be willing to start over or try again, and again without giving up. Entrepreneurship is also not a get rich quick option. You will have to spend more time working on your business than the traditional “9 to 5”. You might need to forgo family events, special occasions, or vacations. Are you willing to sacrifice in the short term for the long-term gain of achieving your dream?
Beware of Shiny Objects: When I was just starting out, I wanted it to be perfect and I wanted all the systems and processes to be perfect. What resulted was a lot of unnecessary expense and this was before I knew what I needed to run my business effectively and efficiently. Today I know that I could have boot-strapped my business and saved a lot of time and money in the beginning.
I recommend that you do what you can with as little investment in programs, systems, etc. until you are at a point that you know what you need. If you invest in any programs or systems to run your business, reevaluate them at least quarterly to determine if you are getting what is needed AND if it makes sense to invest in it based on your level of use.
Be mindful of Who You Surround Yourself With: There will be those around you that may encourage you to give up your dream if it appears it’s getting a little tough. Be conscious of who is supporting you and who is not. Find mentors and groups that will support and cheer you on!
Alignment With Your Values: Knowing that you are living your purpose and making a difference must never be compromised. If it feels wrong in your gut, it’s not the right deal, direction or option. When your behavior aligns with your Values the reputation of both you and your business have a solid foundation on which all else can grow.
Network, Pitch and Ask for the Business: Success does not come at time of creation, it comes when someone has seen the value in what you have created or offer and says “yes” to doing business with you. Hone your skills in networking to get opportunities to Pitch or Propose and once you get the time at the table, don’t leave before Asking for the Business, partnership, funding, etc.
My final thought for your Female Founder is that as we work to recover from Covid, there is truly no better time for you to choose entrepreneurship if that is your heart’s desire. I have learned over the last 2 years that you can still pursue your dreams of having a business and yet also find some stability and peace of mind through the increased level of remote work options.
Now more than ever options exist that are more flexible which will allow you to build your business without completely leaping. You might need to find earlier mornings or later nights – but if it’s your calling – it’s sooooo worth it!
You can join us tonight to discuss this book and your Entrepreneur journey at 6:30pm CST: https://bit.ly/IGCBookClub, I encourage you to share your own best advice as a Female Founder in the comments below.