If you know anything about us, we’re a women-led startup that loves championing our fellow entrepreneurs and liquid workers. So what better way to combine the two than to discuss the success of women founders who took the reins and started their own businesses?
We reached out to hear the advice they’d give other women taking their first steps with their companies and share 7 tips they brought to the table.
1. Say “Yes” to “No”
What happens when you say “yes” to too many projects, too many obligations, and bite off more than you can chew? “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” Jess Munday, co-founder and HR lead for Custom Neon, warned us. “You can’t give 100% of yourself to work.” When the founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls Paige Arnof-Fenn overextended herself, she found she wasn’t able to operate at peak performance. She learned she needed to value herself like she did her most important clients and embraced saying “no”: no to the impulse to immediately respond to emails, no to a deprived sleep schedule, no to not enjoying the moment.
Even when you’ve sufficiently made space for your own well-being, there’s still value in keeping a few “no”s in your pocket. “You will encounter many opportunities that could become a distraction from your mission to deliver,” the co-founder and CEO of SnapADU, Whitney Hill emailed us, “be ruthless in your prioritization to ensure you aren’t spread too thin.” A well-placed “no” can keep you focused on your goals.
Speaking of trying to do too much, it’s not uncommon for founders to start their company by wearing many hats, Monica Dallyn, co-founder of My Magic Carpet, wrote to us. “If you try to do it all on your own to save money, you’ll actually be losing money because of the amount of time it takes to complete every task.” The solution? Delegate that work to someone else, especially someone who specializes in it: whether it’s making a website, handling payroll, or developing a marketing plan. It’s not only more efficient, but more cost-effective to invest your time where you bring the most talent.
Of course, your business might revolve around you as the specialist. In that case, Whitney Osei-Akintaju, the Founder of Ethnic District, recommends documenting and implementing systems to keep your business running. When you can offload the less-specialized work your business requires, you’ll already have guidelines and procedures in place to streamline what needs to be done.
3. Build Your Network Now
Jessica Alderson, CEO and Co-Founder of So Syncd, told us the emotional support a network can provide is massively helpful but emphasized that there are no shortcuts to establishing one. “Start building your network early. Having a strong network can help you move your business forward more smoothly. Whether you are looking to hire amazing talent, solve a business challenge, fundraise or do a myriad of other things, having a strong network is the key to success.” Lynda Fairly, Co-Founder of Numlooker, recommends the best places to network are through LinkedIn, your chamber of commerce, and even from mentors and business coaches.
4. Boost Your Employees
They say “if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” Some of the founders who reached out to us expressed a similar message: clients are important, but so too are the people who work for you. Linn Atiyeh, Founder and CEO of Bemana, told us, “I try to take every opportunity I can to use my position to give my employees the boost they deserve, which helps them achieve the great things that they are capable of. When they succeed, my business does as well.” Dr. Amy Osmond Cook, Chief Marketing Officer at Simplus, advised entrepreneurs to get to know their employees as the three-dimensional people they are. “Congratulate them on their successes, and support them in their failures. Respect them enough to speak the honest truth, and work harder than anyone to show them that you deserve the trust they have placed in you.” Sometimes that means giving employees more opportunities and fostering their talents. But for Stephanie Scheller, CEO and Founder of Grow Disrupt, it also means “pay them well enough that they aren’t constantly stressing and panicking about money so they can do the things they love and focus on that instead of bills.” She’s found that employees who are financially healthy are happier, perform better, and elevate the level of service they give customers.
5. Foster a Human Touch
With work-from-home becoming the new standard and international teams often working asynchronously, opportunities to connect to a person (and not just their digital persona) are harder to come by. Geraldine Scott of The Automation Diva explained to us when she first started her business, she relied on emails and messages. “But then one day I had to send a voice note because I couldn’t say everything in a message. That was a real turning point.” Clients responded and appreciated the opportunity to connect with a real person. Paige Arnof-Fenn from Mavens & Moguls also expressed a similar observation when it came to building connections and said, “even meeting for virtual coffee or drinks can accomplish so much more than e-mail exchanges, social media posts, etc. I have found that building relationships is what drives my business and technology supports them once they are solidified.” Kelly Graham, the founder of Aleavia, wrote to us, “I still personally answer a lot of our customer service questions on our social media platforms. Our customers love when they can actually talk to the owner and get detailed answers to their questions. It creates loyalty and a long-term relationship when you care about their needs, not just pushing a product.”
6. Embrace Pivoting
It’s one thing to come up with an idea for a business. But for Chynna Morgan, CEO and founder of GIF Out Loud, pivoting is crucial. “Your business idea will evolve so much, don’t stop that from happening by being stuck on your initial idea.” But sometimes it’s not the idea that changes – it’s the whole world. Sophie Bowman, CEO of Brand Branding PR LLC, wrote that “if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we have to stay ready and be prepared to pivot at a moment’s notice to become resilient and weather any global storm the universe throws at us,” and that she learned to focus on industry trends and finding opportunity no matter the situation.
7. Focus on Your Purpose and Your Wins
As if being a small business owner wasn’t hard enough, Suzanne Bucknam, CEO of The Connecticut Explorer, told us, “society puts so much pressure on women, especially working women, that it is easy to get bogged down and lose yourself in all the noise. Always remember who you are, and what your purpose is, and strive to pursue it no matter what.” Adversity comes in many forms, and Chef Lucia E. Robles, president and co-founder of Lucia & Co., wrote to us about the challenges she experienced being a woman founder: “Get used to all the comments people will make about you absent-mindedly and intentionally because they will make them. They’ll make comments about your success, your looks, your work ethic, and your drive. Get really comfortable with that and just stay the course.” For C. Street, founder of CStreet Creative, the best way to make it through the trenches “often rests in our ability to simply believe in ourselves.”
Of course, you don’t lose anything by having people in your corner supporting you. “Celebrate your successes and challenges with other women,” Lucie Chavez, CMO of Radaris, advised. “Form a community and enjoy your collective growth together. It’s such an exciting experience to be recognized, gather experiences, and succeed – share it with others.” Or as Chef Lucia told us, “you need to be celebrating your wins EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.” Yes, chef!
Power to the People
When you’re a small business owner, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to running your company. Any of the challenges you face, however, can be conquered with the help of your community. Whether it’s tapping into the expertise of someone in your network, bringing on a business specialist, or having a fellow founder to text when something goes right, you’ll find there’s a solution to every problem.
That’s where Liquid comes in. We make it easy to pay the people on your team, whether they’re across the street or across the globe. If you’re a small business owner looking to pay your national and international employees, manage invoices, and integrate your accounting in Quickbooks, try Liquid today.