March 08 is the annual observance of International Women’s Day. It’s an opportunity to build each other up, raise awareness about women’s equality and bolster female-focused charities and causes. To that end, this article celebrates the many and varied accomplishments of all women in business.
For this article, we spoke with six entrepreneurial women from different backgrounds and industries. Read on to learn what motivates them, how they’ve built their businesses and what advice they would give to aspiring women in business.
Quick Reading Tip: Click the orange Table of Contents button (bottom left) for easy access to each woman’s feature story.
Founder, Fifteen Media (Estd. 2010)
About this business: Since 2011, I have worked with more than 100+ PR firms across the country working behind the scenes to get more media placements for their clients. I also help small businesses get the media they deserve through DIY PR workshops and one-on-one training.
Self-employment perks: I love being able to set my own goals and implement my own ideas. When you work for yourself, the sky’s the limit!
What she’d do differently if she were to start again: I wish I spent more time focusing on what was working and not focusing on what wasn’t working. A lot of times we focus on trying to fix things that aren’t working, and that can take energy from expanding what is working.
On learning entrepreneurship: I find that real-world experience is the best teacher. As you continue to put your business out there, you will see what works and what doesn’t work. It is always a work in progress, so keep doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t work.
“I am a big believer in the idea that done is better than perfect. I feel like if you focus on making everything perfect all the time, then it can prevent you from getting things done. If you just keep moving forward and adjusting as you go along, then you can be a successful business owner.” — Rebekah Epstein, Fifteen Media
Moving beyond fear: It really is all about mindset. The biggest thing that I overcame in the last few years is learning to charge more for my services. I still get nervous charging more, but I have to remember that I am charging for my years of experience. Sometimes I have to give myself a pep talk!
How she starts the day: Morning is my favorite time of day. I try to wake up around 5 a.m. and work for a few hours before working out. Ideally, I try to do the things I hate the most first thing, so I don’t have to worry about them throughout the day.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: Go for it! Don’t wait for the perfect moment or circumstance because it will never be perfect! Try to take one small step a day … over time all of the small steps add up.
Owner & Designer, Unique Indoor (Estd. 2021)
About this business: Full Service Interior Design Studio
On self-employment: It gives you the freedom to create what you want to create and become who you want to be without limitations.
Qualities for success: Being very organized, staying true to yourself and your mission, and not getting overwhelmed with all the details. It will always work itself out.
Moving past fear and obstacles: I talk through all my fears and doubts with other business owners, people who know me best, and my best cheerleaders to help push me through.
Morning routine: I wake up at 5:00 a.m. and work out, before my family gets up, to clear my mind and get me going. I drink my coffee and reflect on all the tasks I need to do and plan out my day. Then I wake up my three kids, get them off to school and head to the office to start my day.
To aspiring entrepreneurs: “DO IT! Don’t doubt yourself. Think everything through and make sure it works, but don’t let self doubt creep in.” — Lyndsey Fontenot
Deliberate Careers LLC (Estd. 2012)
About this business: I am a career and personal success coach. I love helping my clients define what personal success and happiness means to them and then create the income that supports that life with love, acceptance, and support.
The perks of self-employment: I can work from anywhere and during the time of day that is most amenable to my happiness. Starting my own coaching and consulting business was the most amazing gift I ever gave myself. On the personal level, it provides great flexibility. Professionally, it allows me to work with the people that I enjoy most and see them thrive.
If she were to start over: I wish I had known more about lead generation, pipelines, and a few other business terms. I was a bit lost.
Personal qualities that drive business growth: I love what I do and the people I work with are fabulously brilliant in their own way. I meet my clients where they are without judgement and without cookie cutter programs.
Education: I have a formal background in behavioral and developmental psychology and have been through several coaching programs. My approach is eclectic, but greatly influenced by positive psychology, appreciative coaching, and genuine care for each client to take small steps and great leaps toward their goals.
On overcoming fear: Fear is a funny thing. It shows up in unexpected ways and unexpected times. Typically my fear shows up when I am taking a bigger step in my business or growing my business in a new way. The human brain often interprets new as dangerous and same as safe. So, in my work with Katherine Woodward and Tandy Pryor, I have worked both cognitively and intuitively to take action from who “I am becoming” and to ask for help when I am in over my head.
“Asking for help” is something that I thought, incorrectly, that I couldn’t ask for as “the owner” of the business. I will always need help with multi-step processes, detailed planning, and most technology problems. That is not my brilliance and I am happy to hire accomplished talent for those types of tasks. My area of brilliance is coaching the whole person. — DeAnne Pearson
Advice for aspiring business owners: Do some homework on free resources around you first. Most cities and some colleges have small business programs that you can access for free or a small fee. I found a business mentor at my local SCORE office. It’s the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. The one-on-one help of having a mentor was amazing and the virtual classes, models, downloadable forms, and recordings are also tremendous resources.
About this business: Wheelhouse Lifestyle Solutions is committed to structurally sound instructional design that meets the needs of all learners. Our programs are founded on growth mindset, joy, and personal empowerment. Everything we teach is to improve the lives of our clients and those they serve. We believe in living authentically and staying true to your personal values.
I am also an international and award-winning speaker. I made a game — The Soul Spa to help others get connected to their intuition.
Self-employment perks: FREEDOM! I am a bit rebellious and prefer to live by my own structure rather than what’s often imposed in a regular 9-to-5.
New business ownership pitfall: DIY’ing your business wastes a lot of time and money. HIRE GOOD PEOPLE to help you!
Personal qualities for success: I’m determined and open to taking risks. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and use both to keep me motivated and moving forward.
Knowledge that has helped in business: As a certified teacher, I have a solid foundation regarding instructional design and learning best practices. I recently became a Certified Diversity Professional and have worked with several business coaches. I love to learn so I subscribe to many newsletters that support my industry, listen to podcasts, and follow interesting people on social media. I apply neuroscience when I can. I also spent many years helping small businesses create internal structure and training to support expansive growth. This on-the-job experience has been invaluable.
I trust my intuition & ask the Universe for help and guidance. I also focus on JOY, boundaries, and maintaining my own confidence. — Janifer Wheeler
Morning routine: Daily journaling while I drink my coffee. Then, I review my planner and update my schedule. I also like walking a couple of miles when I can.
Advice for new women in business: JUST GO FOR IT! If you don’t take a risk, you’ll never realize the potential inside of you.
Business + Mindset Coach, Bonnie Morata (Estd. 2018)
About this business: I’m a business and mindset coach who advocates for a sustainable approach to every day business and life. I help women entrepreneurs cultivate more clarity, create unshakeable confidence, and embrace a more aligned approach to their business through my group coaching program, The B Project.
My unique coaching framework is based on real-world experience working with women-owned businesses and being one myself! My core belief is that if you dream of it, it is meant to be yours, and it is my life’s purpose to help you make it your new reality.
Self-employment perks: Oh! Everything. I love making my own schedule, decisions, and money. I love that I can spend my mornings meditating and journaling, and my afternoons with my son, Hugo (3 years old). Self-employment allows me to have the fullest life possible.
If she knew in the beginning what she knows now: I wish I knew myself more—my own mind, my needs, and my unique way of being. But I also know that becoming an entrepreneur and mother at the exact same time is what has led me to where I am now.
I think when we start our businesses, we are often hungry for outside knowledge and validation. What I know now is that we already know 90% of the answers, we just don’t trust ourselves yet. — Bonnie Morata
Personal qualities for success: My curiosity and my obsession with personal development. I am always looking for new ways to up-level my life and business, and help others do the same. I am a natural strategic thinker, but I am also quite compassionate (with myself and others) so that gives a kind of softness to my otherwise intense focus and desire to achieve.
Paths of study: I began my entrepreneurial journey in marketing strategy after taking a certification program in digital marketing. While I had taught myself graphic design and marketing basics, that in-person program solidified my understanding of online marketing.
Since then I have participated in a business consulting program and in March 2021 I will receive my life and success coach certification.
In addition, I am an avid reader. I read numerous books supporting my interests, from communication and brain science to business strategy and personal development. Books are a huge influence on my personal and professional philosophies.
On busting fear and barriers: I use daily affirmations, meditation, and visualization to feed positive information to my brain. We all have limiting beliefs adopted from childhood, life experiences, and cultural/social messages. Neuroplasticity allows us to rewire, or rewrite, our own internal beliefs through these practices so that our behaviors reflect those positive beliefs, instead of the limiting ones.
And our brains are wired to fear anything new, unfamiliar, or challenging. It’s a survival mechanism of our brain. So anytime we are leveling up in business or life we’re going to feel fear—there is no way around it. But this knowledge alone has helped me move through fear and grow in my business despite fear and discomfort.
Morning rituals: I organize my morning based on the top priorities in my life. 1. My health 2. My family 3. My work. As of late, rest and mental health have been my BIGGEST priorities because I am focused on managing my autoimmune disease holistically right now. I had been low-key ill for the last several years. I didn’t “look sick” but I was not well.
So my morning routine looks like:
- Waking up at 7:00 AM (not 5:30 AM!) to no alarm.
- Getting my son ready for and to daycare.
- Meditation, stretching, and journaling around 9:00 a.m.
- Getting ready for my day.
All before getting to my top 3 work priorities for the day. I am not stringent with this routine because that would kind of defeat the purpose, but I use this as a framework.
Advice for aspiring women-in-business: You already have everything you need inside of you to make that dream business a reality. You know the first few steps it takes, and you will figure out the rest. Let it be an unfolding, not perfect plan.
Founder, Vox Pop Marketing (Estd. 2014)
About this business: We provide full-scale digital marketing and custom web design for small businesses.
Self-employment perks: I savor the freedom that comes from self-employment. Location independence is huge. I also enjoy the creativity that goes into business development.
What I wish I knew early on: I wish I had relaxed, believed in myself and trusted that my efforts would produce the results I was working toward. I was constantly on edge in the beginning — fearing that if I couldn’t hack business ownership, I’d have to go back to doing work that wasn’t fulfilling or aligned with my life vision. The anxiety those thoughts produced stole a lot of my energy and affected my business development.
Personal qualities for success: Having a genuine interest in people and being excited to help them grow their business with digital marketing. I think my enthusiasm and passion for what I do comes through in my personal interactions with people. Everyone wants to do business with people they know, like and trust. Genuinely caring goes a long way toward that.
Areas of study: I have a background as a visual artist. I also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. Plus, for 16 years, I have studied and practiced digital marketing and web design. My fine arts background helps me develop beautiful web pages, and my marketing skills help them to be useful as sales tools. Meanwhile, the communications skills I used every day as a reporter have helped me tremendously with copywriting, content writing and storytelling as a marketing approach.
Since 2005, I have continuously invested in my digital marketing skills, covering all of the bases including copywriting, email marketing, search engine optimization, blog and social media marketing, ads management, lead funnel development, landing page conversions and a lot more.
On taming fears: Confidence and boldness in the face of fear can be learned through practice. I started my first marketing business in 2012, so I have practiced a lot. These days, I’m mostly free from worries. Sometimes the old self-doubt creeps in, but after a lot of trial and error, I know better how to manage those thoughts.
I felt a lot of fear early in my business, and I made the choice to feel the fear and do it anyway (on repeat). The thing that always helped was to remind myself that my business isn’t about me. It’s about the people I serve. So if I make a mistake here or there, it doesn’t matter … as long as I’m being of good and genuine service to others. — Monica Valentine
Morning routine: I spend the first 15 to 30 minutes of the morning with my dog, listening to the news, having coffee and breakfast. Next I spend 2.5 hours on business development activities like marketing strategy, assigning marketing tasks to my team, developing services and operational systems, plus sales outreach. The last, and most refreshing part of the morning, is a daily weightlifting session in my garage gym. I also take a mile walk on most days after lunch, which helps prepare me for the rest of the day.
Advice for aspiring women in business: Running a business isn’t just about your area of expertise. Remember to not only focus on your service or product, but to also educate yourself in the full range of business practices. These include sales, marketing, systems development, customer service, time management, team management and more. You don’t have to be an expert at them all, but having the basics down is a great start to developing a business that works. Also, if passion and purpose drive your business pursuit, you will be better equipped to weather the storms. Start today, but don’t quit your day job until your financial bases are covered. Good luck, we’re all rooting for you!!
Recommended Reading for Women in Business
Rebekah’s pick: You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero
DeAnne’s recommendation: Linchpin, Seth Godin
Monica’s mentions: Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist, Sally Hogshead; The E-Myth, Michael Gerber; Rework, Jason Fried
These women in business represent a range of backgrounds, but what they do have in common is drive and a commitment to personal growth. On International Women’s Day, we acknowledge the basic truth that all women should have rights, resources and education to better themselves both personally and professionally.
Women from all walks of life should be able to bring their personal vision to life, whether it’s in entrepreneurial pursuits or otherwise. Through formal and self-education, daily practice and doing the work, women can develop their existing skills and make a difference for their families and communities.
Remember that it’s okay to ask for help and admit your weaknesses. Don’t fixate on areas where you struggle. Rather, push forward and focus on the areas where you shine. Personal and professional growth is vital, but don’t spend all of your time and energy on things that “aren’t working.” If you’re able, hire others to help you in areas that aren’t in your wheelhouse so you can focus on what is.
Self-doubt and fear are difficult but can be overcome. Humans are naturally afraid of the unknown and most people fear change. It’s easy to let fear stop you. You might avoid facing the unknown by telling yourself now is “not the right time.” But as several of these amazing women pointed out, you could be waiting forever. You just have to go for it.
What to Do Now
You’re not in this alone! There are so many other women in business, and finding a business mentor might be easier than you think. In the spirit of International Women’s Day, reach out to other women in business to ask for support when you need it, and to offer support where you can.
Start with these six entrepreneurial women. Visit their websites, and follow them on social media to learn more about their experiences and advice. Finally, share your struggles and triumphs, because we’re all in this together.