Female Business Owners

Female Business Owners Share Their Success, Challenges Journey & Advice for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship

A sustainable business doesn’t build overnight; it requires patience and consistent nights of hard work. The journey to starting a business looks smooth; the path seems fresh, but the more a person walks in, the more hurdles they need to face. 

For women leaders, precisely, the business path seems more rough and challenging. From doing multitasking to managing family and work-life together, the women entrepreneurs need to manifest psychological and social capital to start and lead their businesses.

We talked to few successful women business leaders who have achieved success with their thoughtful ideas and advice for other women looking to start their own businesses. Their stories are really inspiring, and their business journey is full of adventure.

  • The journey to starting their business.
  • The challenges they overcame.
  • The growth they’ve experienced.
  • The lives they’ve impacted.

These women leaders navigate various challenges specific to their gender—from less access to capital to misperceptions about their skill set.

Samantha A. Harding, Brazilian Fashion Designer

“Just start, learn from your mistakes, and enjoy the process” with Samantha Harding

Samantha Harding is a Brazilian Fashion designer and now businesswoman living in London. She had everything ripped from her at a young age due to life events. However, she still perceives living her dream with her brand Sahar by Samantha Harding and enjoys the process during the way. Grateful to still be alive and have fantastic support from those who know who they are!

Samantha A. Harding, Brazilian fashion designer

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

If it’s not a terminal sickness, don’t stress about it; everything will work out in the end, just keeping trying your best.

What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

How flexible I can be, today I’m in London and tomorrow I can be in Bali. Also, all the amazing people I meet along the way with all the travels, where we share information and just look to grow.

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business? How did you overcome it?

I started my business in University, and the biggest challenge was defiantly finding factories to complete my collection because it was a small collection with a few pieces; it was unviable for big factories and too expensive to hire a lady to sew the bikinis. It’s hard to find good handwork, especially with bikinis because the fabrics are different and you need more talent & time. Luckily, my mum was from a small town in the Islands of Minas Gerais, so we managed to find a local family business with amazing quality and a reasonable price. It took a long time to actually figure it out, but we managed. Now I only get my collections produced in communities in Rio de Janeiro, and that are family-owned or business in Brazil that are less fortunate than getting them done in big factories or in China; good work ethic was put in as a value from the beginning through this first challenge.

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Save your money; who knew Covid would hit! Luckily I always had a good reserve, but I could have saved much more and been in a better position today.
  • Have a relaxation routine and stick to it; I regularly practice yoga and have meditation sessions.
  • Don’t stress about the problems; there is always a loophole and a way around it.
  • Always put insurance on everything you export & emphasize; I recently lost a shipment to Ibiza where my assistant forgot to put insurance on it; the company also didn’t mention it.
  • Work on your business every day for at least 3 hours a day; you’ll see the big difference it makes long term.
What is your success mantra?

Just try your best, and persistence is key. You already have a no anyway if you don’t try, so just keep going and putting yourself out there.

Rachel Charlupski, Founder of The Babysitting Company

Rachel Charlupski is the Founder of The Babysitting Company, a full-service childcare agency that refers professionally trained babysitters to clients and families nationwide. Started the business in college; today, Rachel turned The Baby Sitting Company into a successful business with a network of over 1,200 sitters, nannies, and caregivers.

Rachel Charlupski

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge that I faced when starting the business was that I was very young. I was in my early 20s and had no business or professional experience.

I studied from everyone that I possibly could. People that I knew personally, people that I looked up to and read a lot.

What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

The best thing about being a business owner is having happy customers, sitters, and partners and when they know that they can count on us for anything.

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

It is very important to have a mission/ mission statement. Know what your values and your worth it and stick to it. Quality is always more impotent than quantity.

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started”?
  • The relationship is more important than the dollar. Sometimes you will have to invest to gain a client.
  • Your word is everything.
  • It is more important to be the best than to make the most money.
  • If your contractors are happy, they will want to work more. Show interest and get to know them.
  • Always finish your to-do list, no matter what it takes!
What is your success mantra?

You have three choices every day. To be worse than yesterday, to be the same or be better.

Jaclyn Strauss, CPA, Founder of My Macro Memoir

Jaclyn Strauss, CPA, is a mid-level executive for a Fortune 100 company with multiple passions. She is also the founder of her own company called My Macro Memoir. She has become a leading efficiency expert by putting her skills and knowledge to work by creating a secure place for families to organize themselves digitally with their thinking. Jaclyn leads with her heart in all that she does and has a passion for serving the greater good of her local community and beyond.

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business?

The realization that what I thought would be a very simple service to create and bring to market was far from that. The more simple I wanted it to be, the more complex it was to create and build. I had two pillars that I committed to staying true to when I was developing my business, and those were 1. Time is Money 2. Security would be of utmost importance. I also adopted the laser focus approach of creating something that was “simple and stupid.” As I started the development process, with very little knowledge in IT, I had to learn to trust the development team that I choose through a very rigorous process and trust the professionals in this area. It was mind-blowing to me that the more simple that I wanted something, the more difficult it was to actually create it. 

Jaclyn Strauss

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something or that your idea or passion is basically a pipe dream and to give it up. The fact is that you will receive a lot of “no’s,” but all it will take is the one “yes” for someone to believe so much in you and your product and the potential the combination of the two have, that should give you the fuel to keep going. As females, we tend to show our emotions more than men. Don’t do it! Whatever you do, never reveal what is behind your eyes to potential investors or sales targets. We must stand confident and authentic every step of the way.

How did you overcome it?

I embraced and trained myself in the way I was thinking. That training was to put my fear aside and trust the decisions that I was making and trust those that I enlisted to help bring my vision to reality. I am a very Type A personality, and this was difficult to do but being mindful and deliberate before making any decisions or jump to conclusions was a learned art over the course of my start-up process.

What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

The opportunity that I have to truly bring to market what the market is asking for. When I launched my product, I believed that based on my market research and feedback, I gathered along the way; the service would look and feel one way. It was not until I actually launched it that I got really valuable feedback and was able to make changes and pivot based on this information. The key, though, is I was willing to hear it and accept it. Some business owners are so adamant that their starting vision is the way things should stay, and I could not disagree more with that thinking. Your product is only worth what the market is willing to pay for it or even purchase it to begin with.

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Be flexible. At first, I thought that I had all of the answers and knew exactly what the end-user would want or need from my service. I was wrong and needed to be willing to digest the feedback and make changes to what I had envisioned.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I was never a person who liked to ask for anything without having something to immediately give back to that person. What I learned was that people like to be in a teacher role or appreciate being asked for their expert help. So many out there are willing to give their time to lend some advice if you ask the right way and do it selflessly. Just be sure that you don’t ask for the time, receive it and then do nothing with it. This sends a message to the person that you did not value what they had to say or appreciate their time.
  • Trust your gut. I was so eager to fill the gaps that I had from an intellectual capital perspective, such as digital marketing and social media marketing, that I got sucked into purchasing a few of the thousands of “courses” created by an “expert.” The people behind some of these courses simply have a passion but do not have any real credentials or proof that they can help you bring results. I was so eager to launch with success; I hired a coach that sounded good and talked the talk. In the end, he did not walk the walk and added nothing to my business. He only took his fees and was not able to deliver on what he said he was an expert in. After the first 1.5 months of our 3 months coaching contract, I documented for him everything he had not delivered on as well as what he did do. The list was so overwhelming that he was basically “caught” and was happy to refund my money. It just makes me sad, as I know he and others will continue to prey on people like me that did not know better, that is simply focused on success that it can make us prime targets for these people.
  • Don’t expect your family and friends to be customers. Sure they will all “like” your posts and send you nice messages, but in the end, they don’t purchase your product or service, and that is the bottom line. Earning the trust and showing the value to complete strangers will be where your success lies.
  • Stay true to your budget. It is exciting to see your idea come to reality through development, and it is also very easy to want to add things to it to make it what you think is better. Ensure that enhancing the product/service pre-launch is truly necessary, as until it is out in the market, you really won’t know if the additional investment over your budget is money well spent. I personally invested in some tech additions to my platform that, in the end, made no difference to the overall value of it to my customers that made it a deal-breaker on whether they would purchase it or not.
What is your success mantra?

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” After all, a NO to asking does not leave you in any different position had you not asked in the first place. Asking gives you the opportunity to receive a yes. Go for it!

Ella Jesmajian, Co-Founder of Honey and Roses Coffee

Ella Jesmajian, a New York Native, is the co-founder of Honey and Roses Coffee. An online coffee platform that ‘brings the best of the coffee shop to your door.’ Partnering with 55 Small batch roasters and dozens of bakers and chocolatiers. Honey and Roses Coffee is creating the ultimate at-home coffee experience.

Founded in 2019, Ella runs marketing, product development and is the company’s photography and graphic designer. Prior to founding Honey & Roses, Ella spent a decade working in the restaurant industry for chef Michael Psilakis as well as having several short-term e-commerce ventures which supported her through college. She found some success with her brand Lily & Lorelei, which focused on imported bespoke Moroccan products. An expert in social media marketing and brand image. She has shaped the development of this company, from the partners to the aesthetic that’s beloved by its customers. She hopes to continue to grow this platform and give Americans the ability to support small businesses, drink amazing coffee, try new baked goods and continue to enjoy eco-friendly home and kitchen accessories designed for environmentally friendly consumers.

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business?

For us, the biggest challenge was actually Covid 19. We were only 3 months into advertising online when Covid hit. Prior to this, online coffee sales was a desired yet less competitive market. But when the pandemic swept the globe, major coffee brands and large retailers shifted to the online space. Although the demand was there, this change created a much more saturated market. In addition, it raised the cost of advertising exponentially and created a barrier for smaller companies such as ourselves to get the exposure.

How did you overcome it?

We realized very quickly; we would never be able to put the kind of capital the larger companies were putting into marketing. So we focused our efforts on building our social media organically. As the primary photographer for the brand, I focused my attention on all the details the larger brands often overlook. For example, having an aesthetically pleasing social and creating unique content on a daily basis for our customers. We create unique campaigns like Drink Coffee and Vote, a campaign offering free coffee to those who vote, a campaign that was, like many of our campaigns and published values then replicated by corporate-backed competitors. We also run unique competitions, trivia and write engaging blog posts.

Travel was always a huge part of our company, so creating country guides in a series called Coffee Around The World Was a fun way to showcase traditional food and coffee recipes across the globe. By doing these small things, we grew a large, loyal customer base, and although the big companies always like to copy small brands like us, we were able to create a sense of trust and reputation for stellar customer service to counteract the lack of billion-dollar funding.

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

Go for it. Do something you are passionate about. Start a company that inspires you, interests you, and motivates you. It will not always be easy, and sometimes you will feel like giving up. But if you’re passionate and dedicated, you can overcome any obstacles and challenges you might face. Also, people will always critique, question, and judge you. So try to use that as motivation to hustle that much harder.

What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

Having the flexibility to create your own schedule. It’s amazing to be able to work when you want and control your own day-to-day routine. It’s something I never take for granted.

What are your- “Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” ?
  • Being an entrepreneur means you will never stop working. I never realized that having your own company is a never-ending job. There’s always more to do, and at the end of the day, it all falls on you.
  • Money money money. Without capital, you will have a hard time building a successful company. Sure, there are many stories out there about people starting companies with little to no funding. But those are the exception, not the norm. It’s expensive to start, grow and sustain a company, and anyone that tells you it’s not is lying.
  • Not everything has to be done right away. In the beginning, I struggled with time management. Every time I got a new email, message, or task assigned to me, I thought it had to be done immediately.
  • Over time, I realized that I could create my own timeline and schedule. Pre-assigning tasks on a monthly basis and creating structure within the company helped remove my internal pressure to finish everything right away.
What is your success mantra?

You never know what’s right around the corner. Sometimes, things seem impossible, discouraging, and overwhelming. But tomorrow your company might be on the cover of the biggest magazine in the world. Who knows! So don’t give up and keep pushing. Things are constantly changing and evolving, and that’s pretty motivating.

Rebecca Beach, Founder of an eCommerce Store, MomBeach

Becky Beach is a 6 figure blogger at MomBeach.com and eCommerce store owner. She has been featured in Business Insider, Forbes, and other top media. Becky lives in Dallas, Texas with her son, Bryan, and husband. She enjoys helping other moms work from home so they can stay with their kids. 

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business? How did you overcome it?

I was struggling to find enough time to work on my business. I was working 60 hour weeks as a web developer but was pregnant with my son. I felt so tired because of my pregnancy but still wanted to start my business.

I ended up getting up early or staying up late each day. Then, I started taking vitamins that increased my energy level, too, so that I wasn’t feeling so tired due to being pregnant. Soon, I felt good enough to get work done on my business since my energy levels improved greatly.

Rebecca Beach

What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

I love the flexibility that I have. I’m my own boss and can work as hard as I want and see rewards. When I had a 9 to 5 job, I would work really hard and only get a 3% raise each year. When I work hard in my business, I am rewarded both financially and emotionally.

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

Just start your business. Don’t waste time doubting yourself. If you have a business idea, take the first step! Many people spend time thinking too much about if they would fail. If you don’t start, you never know if you would fail or succeed. It’s worth it!

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started”?
  • How much work it would be to start a business.
  • How rewarding starting a business is. I started just 6 years ago when I was pregnant with my son.
  • Start your business ASAP. I wasted too much time thinking about starting my business instead of doing it.
  • How much freedom I would actually have. I can take as many vacation days or sick days as I need to.
  • How much fun it is for a business owner. I’m enjoying my life and living it to the fullest. I am able to invest the money instead of being in debt. I have paid off over $150k in debt thanks to starting my business!
What is your success mantra?

Dream it and do it! Don’t waste time thinking so much. Just get started now on your business! Don’t waste time overthinking if you would fail or succeed. If you don’t start, you will not have a business for sure. If you get started, then you will have a business and can see if you will be successful. Don’t ruin your chances for success by limiting beliefs.

Marjah Simon-Meinefeld, Founder of Author Writer’s Academy

Marjah is a best-selling author, writer trainer, professional speaker, mindset coach, international attorney, and prior military. She is passionate about helping aspiring authors bring their amazing stories to the world.

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business.

The biggest challenge I faced at the start of my business was probably something common to all people: the challenge of our own thoughts, thinking, “Am I good enough? Am I ready? Should I do this? What if this happens? What if this doesn’t happen?”

The biggest challenge I think we all face is often the challenge between our two ears, the thoughts that tend to stop us from moving forward with our own dreams, that tend to stop us from helping other people that we allow to get in the way and overtake that knowing, that desire in our heart, and that faith—and stepping through that.

How did you overcome it?

I overcame that by employing coaches to help me step into that new identity, own who I really am by working with myself, examining my own language, and my own way of showing up in the world each and every day. Zig Ziglar, I think, said that it’s like bathing. You have to do it every day. This is not necessarily a one-stop-and-done endeavor. The book says, “Stand guard at the door of your mind.” Doing that by paying attention to, “What am I listening to? What am I watching? Who am I around?” and setting that environment up intentionally. I direct my mind into thoughts of power and of love. From that place, I’m able to serve my clients at a high and a high level.

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

Number one, know your outcome. Know why you’re serving, know why you’re here. And my outcome is not to write books. My outcome is to capture the wisdom of all of these amazing people, bring their messages to the world, and change lives. Number two, fall in love with your clients, not with your products or services. In doing that, we can stay focused on the right thing: people and making a difference. 

What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

My favorite thing about being a business owner is serving my clients. When I saw my first author holding her book, when I saw my second author holding him, when I saw the tears streaming down an author’s face, when a client saw his vision, his desire of 10 years realized in a matter of months, I know that success for my business is achieved.

Every time I meet with a client, I take them one step closer to publishing their book. It’s every time I get to bring out and capture some more wisdom, share it out in the world, knowing that it’s going out there, changing lives, and making a difference.

We are creating authors who are building a bridge so that people don’t have to fall down into that abyss of helplessness, hopelessness, of darkness. And if they do, that there’s a ladder to pull them out that they can climb out with the words of these amazing men and women, that I have the privilege of helping capture their stories. 

That people’s stories, people’s words, people’s wisdom, is going out to the world, changing lives, that the authors are able to incorporate it into their businesses, scale up their businesses and grow as well.

Books changed lives. It changes the lives of the authors that write them; it changes the lives of the readers that read them; it changes the lives of their business where they’re able to incorporate another element into their business. Most of my clients are entrepreneurs that are scaling, growing their business, getting their messages out into the world in these amazing ways. They’re incredible, intelligent, experienced human beings with such amazing hearts.

My favorite thing about being a business owner is being part of this incredible mission in life.

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Look within every pain, obstacle, and problem- there’s where your biggest opportunity lies.
  • Trust your instinct and inner heart/voice even when it makes no sense to anyone else, even if it doesn’t make sense to your mind. 
  • Learn to master every aspect of your business before you delegate it out
  • Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Continuously narrow down what you do to your zone of genius. Let others operate in their zone of genius. 
  • What’s success without love and fun? If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong!

What is your success mantra?

My success mantra comes from two places “I can do all things through Christ (the anointing) which strengthens me,” from the Bible and “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming; just keep swimming,” from Dory in the movie Finding Nemo.

Sharon Sherman, Founder of Thymeandplacedesign

An amazing interior designer, Sharon creates beautiful kitchen cabinets appropriate for every member of the family. She loves creating homes with balanced health, wellness, function, and beauty; all her designs are really warm and add a modern touch to the houses.

sharon-sherman

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business.

I had a long and successful career with a large company. When I left, I could not contact any of my clients to let them know I had moved, nor could I use any of the subcontractors I had a 20-year relationship with, and the vendors I designed with would not sell to me, so I had to find new vendors of the same quality.

How did you overcome it?

First, I started advertising; this was when printing we still a big deal. I let everyone I knew know about my new venture. I donated design time to fundraisers, contacted every editor I knew to get editorials. I was able to find a couple of smaller vendors who wanted to work with me. The biggest thing came when a friend asked me to design a large addition with several rooms. I met her contractor, and we have now worked together for 18 years very successfully.

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

You really need a business plan. That road map to get you from point A through B, C D, and beyond is paramount. Get the nuts and bolts in place: logo, website, professional presentation package. Hire a lawyer, do all of the legal things, and draft a great one if you need a contract. Find a trusted account and listen to them. Be smart about everything. Be confident in what you know; ask questions to learn about what you don’t know. Be willing to adapt and pivot when necessary.

What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

Several years back, my then 13-year-old son and I were talking about how and why I started my business. He thought a few moments and then said, “ Mom, I am really proud of you for starting your own business and being successful” That sums it up.

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started”?
  • Not everyone wants to see you succeed. Stick with it, and don’t let them get you down.
  • Once you are successful, everyone wants to be your friend. Know who your real friends are.
  • Don’t be afraid of change; go with the flow.
  • It’s not just about the money.
  • Cultivating a successful business is like raising a child; you nurture it and watch it grow. There is nothing like it.
What is your success mantra? 

Your intuition is your superpower; trust your gut.

Monique Lappas, Owner & CEO of Q Consulting Services

Monique Lappas, founder and CEO of Q Consulting Services, is providing consulting and support services that saves hospitals and healthcare providers time, money and lives. She has worked with over 400 hospitals, across the United States and Canada, with clients ranging from critical-access hospitals to the country’s largest healthcare systems.

Monique Lappas

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

  • Be prepared to wear many hats – you might go from having a meeting with the CEO of a large corporation to putting toilet paper in the office stalls. Do whatever it takes, and don’t be afraid to let your employees see that you are prepared to get your hands dirty.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – speak to many people and investigate different avenues; you never know what you will learn, and a lot of people really like to share their knowledge.
  • Tell people when they do something great – it breeds great employee loyalty and makes them feel good about their contributions.
  • Share your profits when they come, as when it falls, you might have to rely on people to work harder for less, and if they feel good about you and where they work, this helps a great deal.
What was the biggest challenge you faced at the start of your business? How did you overcome it?

My first year in business was a great year – I earned enough to support the business and make a moderate profit. I knew I was taking the appropriate steps in marketing to promote my services, but I also felt that there were a lot of people I was leaving out, and the emails and calls could have been more effective. I needed to beef up my salesforce to do this, so I hired someone to work with me to do that. 

I had worked with the person in the past but never really focused on what he did or if he was successful, but he was a nice person, and the company he was working at was being acquired, so I hired him. He told me what he believed he could add to the business in terms of sales (and I believed him), so I hired him at the salary he requested plus commission. He also asked for health insurance, so I paid for that as well. After 3 months, he wasn’t able to close a single client, and all he was doing was the exact same process that I had been doing before he came onboard. I had him on for 8 months, and any time I asked him to think outside the box about ideas to market and sell to our potential leads, he just didn’t do it. Because he was such a nice person, and because I worked with him in the past, I kept trying to keep him on, but in the end, his salary meant that I had to go into debt to pay him.

After those 8 months, I spoke with him again, and he was still convinced he could close a certain dollar level of business, so I suggested to him that we change his compensation structure to a smaller base and bigger commission. I proposed a value to him that would mean if he closed the amount he said, then he would make more money than his current level, but if he didn’t close anything, he would be at about half his salary.

He ended up resigning the next day. I think he knew that he couldn’t close the level of business he was telling me about but was enjoying his high salary. What was great is that I didn’t miss a beat after that. I invested in Hubspot software that allowed me to automate emails, so the email writing after my webinars was something that occurred instantly – it pulled in all of my webinar registrants, and once they were set up, I could see who opened what email and clicked on it. 

I still have a lot of work to do on the sales and marketing front, and webinars are still a big part of my marketing process, but they have been working great and still bring in most of my leads.

So, to answer the question, the challenge was:
  • Believing someone could do something without any data to back it up
  • Not utilizing software to better streamline my marketing processes
  • Not being able to let go of an employee, even though it was putting me into debt 
  • Not knowing how to structure the compensation of different employees so that they share in the gains of the company, but don’t almost bankrupt it in trying to pay their salaries
What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

Being the driver of my own destiny. I have two kids, and I wanted to be a part of their lives. By running my own business, I am able to manage my schedule around their needs. I am the mom at their swimming lessons or lacrosse practice that has a laptop on my lap and able to work while they are there. I am always able to get them there, watch a little, but still answer emails and finish up some work tasks while they practice. It also meant I could make field trips, go to pizza lunches and be more involved than I could have been if I had a typical 9-to-5 office job.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  1. Don’t overspend on things until you know you absolutely need them.
    • I spent a few years digging out of debt after I hired a salesperson at a salary that was beyond the company’s ability to afford it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
    • If you have an instinct that a new product or new service might work – especially because you start to hear your customers talk about it – then work out how to market it, how to do it, and give it a shot. My biggest business line was created because of this.
  3. Look into your business structure and talk to an accountant about it.
    • I had a background in finance and thought I knew how I should structure my business as a sole proprietor, but this ended up costing me a lot more in tax dollars than if I had structured it (as it is now) as an LLC that is taxed as an S-Corp. I truly spent tens of thousands more in taxes because I didn’t structure it properly for the first few years.
  4. Set aside money from each dollar of revenue for taxes and make sure you pay them.
    • Don’t use taxes like free borrowing – it can bury you when you find yourself owing tens of thousands of dollars that you owe and can be painful digging out of it. The penalties associated with non-payments are brutal…so just try as hard as you can to manage your cash flow and budget for taxes right from the beginning.
  5. Know good people when you see them.
    • I have ended up hiring a lot of my clients as 1099 contractors – they do projects or work for me after hours, and all except one of them has been phenomenal. I love that I have the knowledge base to call on when certain projects call for it, and they love having some extra money come their way for sharing that knowledge. My clients also love that they have access to people that are working in the field every day and have solved the problems that they are trying to resolve.
    • I have also gotten to know some great people through others and heard about their work styles and how they are a pleasure to work with. When these people are looking for jobs, I try to bring them on and find a role for them (that the business can manage) because when you are growing, you need to have people that can put on a different hat and step into it, and trust that they can learn alongside you.
What is your success mantra?

Be kind, share your knowledge, and love what you do. If you can do this, then you will go a long way in order to help manage times of stress. It is also a great way to ensure that your company’s morale stays high during both good times and bad.

Carolina Dalfó, Fashion Designer / Design Consultant

Carolina Dalfó, is a New York Fashion Designer at Ralph Lauren. She is the Founder and Chair of LATA, the Latinx Alumni Together in the Arts Association at the School of Visual Arts and the Owner and Designer of DALFO, is a big line of printed silk scarves. All scarves are printed with a low waste reactive on-demand printing process.

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business.

As a designer, I’ve worked for brands such as Robert Geller, Opening Ceremony, and Ralph Lauren. DALFO is my own project. The biggest challenge I’ve faced was designing and putting out products under my own name and not under someone else’s. It is, surprisingly, a very intimidating process. The scarves that make it to the line and become available to the public are a piece of me, and showing that can be quite a daunting experience. Another challenge I had was handling sourcing and production myself, which doesn’t happen when you work for a brand.

Carolina Dalfó

What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

My favorite part is approaching my project as a play. Because this is a side project, I don’t think about my scarves as ‘products’; I think about them as studies. DALFO is something I do for myself. I let myself have fun with shapes, color, and proportions and enjoy the process. It is very intuitive and personal.

How did you overcome it?

The intimidation I overcame by going for it. I wanted to see how I performed as a designer creating products under my own name in the real world, and in order to see that, logically, the products had to be made available for purchase. It was a ‘ripping off the bandaid’ type of moment. The challenge of managing production I overcame by educating myself and talking to my mentor, Robert Geller, and colleagues about their own experiences with their own brands. I researched and learned about what options I had to produce my scarves and what processes were available to me. It is a never-ending learning experience, but all these challenges and taking steps to overcome them made me a better designer.

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

If you can’t stop thinking about it, go for it. But go for it prepared.

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Putting out a product is showing who you are to the world, and it can be extremely intimidating.
  • There is nothing wrong with using your network to improve your product. Talking to other experts in the field and asking questions will help understand how other people dealt with issues before and even gain knowledge of potential issues you might not be aware of.
  • Editing your products and deciding what actually makes it into the line is harder than it seems but extremely important. Creating a print, I’m proud of and would like to see someone wear is challenging because I’m always making changes, so the scarves I put out are put to the test many times before going live. 
  • No one will work on your product harder than you will.
  • Start slow and educate yourself. Do your research before starting your process. Compare factories, ask for your colleagues’ opinions, test colors before committing to them. Good research makes for a good product.
What is your success mantra?

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” That is what keeps my resilience up.

Nina Macarie, CEO of OneLuckyStar

Nina Macarie (she), a podcast outreach manager (CEO of OneLuckyStar). Nina’s mission is to help female online entrepreneurs, coaches, course creators, consultants and podcasters get an amazing first impression as they start spreading their messages on other people’s platforms.

Nina Macarie

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

My advice would be to rely on their previous experiences even if (as one of my coaches (Cara Barone) says) “you cannot match Apples to Apples,” meaning that you will not be able to do the exact same thing, but you are going to be able to use the skills that you already have and still deliver amazing work even if it’s slightly different. Another piece of advice is to continuously invest in courses and programs. Being surrounded by like-minded people, you are going to keep up with your good energy, and also, you are going to sharpen your skills and learn a lot from mentors that are a few steps ahead of you. Save time and energy and invest wisely so you can move the needle forward faster.

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business

When I started my business, I had no idea what I was doing. I was so blessed to be able to be a SAHM for more than 5 years, and then I was able to test and experiment with things that I could do (cause my husband was the main income provider and due to his successful corporate job, he was able to support the kids and me). This is how I volunteered for an NGO for a few months, worked with a German consultant for a special project, and then a friend asked me to help her promote the offline jewelry store on social media. Suddenly, my husband lost his job, and we all went through a rough time. A few months later, he moved to a different town, and when the school year started, the kids and I joined him. I thought that since we are starting from scratch, it would be a good idea if I could get a regular job so I can contribute to my family’s finances. So, I did. But 9 days later, I quit because I felt so trapped, and I couldn’t see myself doing this for the rest of my life. All I knew is that there must be out there other moms who, like me, are willing to start businesses from home so they can do something meaningful but also have more time to spend with their kids.

The day I quit, I went back home and started to evaluate my options online. This is how I found that I could work as a social media manager, but soon I realized that this is not what I really wanted. Having an admin background (I used to work for the government in my country), I quickly became a virtual assistant. As a general VA, I wasn’t making a lot of money cause there is a lot of competition, and I felt that is pretty impossible for me, as an introvert, to stand out. I wasn’t ready to give up (I was very determined to make this work cause I didn’t want to go back to a 9-5), and all the money I was making I was investing in courses cause I wanted to niche down. Now, my main struggle was that I was too afraid to market myself as having this new skill (in my opinion, I just took a course, so how could I help other people with Pinterest, building websites, or funnels?). So, how in the world was I going to be able to niche down?

How did you overcome it?

As I was trying to figure out what my next move should be, I watched a masterclass on how to pitch podcasts (I used to sign up to a lot of challenges, webinars, free training,…). At the end of that masterclass, the owner was advertising a course. But this time, the course was different: it had two parts, one for the VA and one for the client. I knew that if I will buy the course, I wasn’t going to market myself as a pitch podcast VA (cause I lacked self-confidence). It was time for a new approach. I did something that, for me, as an introvert, was pretty brave and courageous. Or at least, this is how I felt. I posted in that specific FB group where the masterclass was advertised that I was interested in bartering my services in exchange for that course. Luckily, someone (who turned out to be an amazing coach and person) took the leap of faith and took up my offer. Not only, that I continued working with her after the course was done, but she referred me to a friend of hers, and this is how the ball got rolling. Then, during the pandemic, I was able to take on more work, and I started supporting podcasters also with their own podcasts, so I got the chance to see what kind of pitches are put out in the world. So, my advice would be to take bold action, no matter what that means to you (cause we all have different definitions of boldness depending on our current circumstances and stage that we are in).

What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

The best thing that I love is the freedom and flexibility that I have. I started my business so I can create a business around my kids’ schedule. I no longer need to take a day off if one of them is sick or if they need a dentist appointment. I can go to a coffee shop first thing in the morning or in the afternoon. Just recently, my boy was camping for a week, and I was able to spend an entire day there when I went to pick him up, so I get the opportunity to squeeze in as many adventures as I’d like. During the pandemic, I loved joining online networking events and meeting a lot of amazing female business owners. And hopefully, soon, I’ll be able to attend in-person events (I already have one on my bucket list).

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

The 5 things that I wish someone told me before I started are:

  • Confidence comes from clarity, and clarity comes from action (and that it’s ok to experiment and try different things until you get to find the right thing for you)
  • To be in the moment (and detach myself from the outcome). Things got better as soon as I realized that I just have to be in the energy of that moment and not worry about all the things. For example, during the sales calls, I was trying to anticipate my potential client’s next move/question, but instead, I just had to be there for them with a deep desire of helping that person no matter what their decision is going to be.
  • You are not your business – your needs as a business owner are so different than your needs as a human being, mother, wife, friend…and you should treat yourself accordingly.
  • You need to start with serving one client. We get to compare with other successful people that serve a lot of clients, but we tend to forget that in order to get there, we need to start with one client, and then another, and another…
  • Focus on your people. It took me a long time to understand that it’s ok if we can’t please everyone. So, instead of beating yourself up, choose to focus on the right people, the ones that are interested in your story, your content, your offers. You won’t have the time and energy to deal with the negative people.
What is your success mantra?

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” Rumi

As soon as I started making some specific decisions in my business, I found new opportunities and open doors that I have not seen before. 

Gonzalez Olga, CEO of Pietra Communications

Olga González has over fifteen years of experience working within the field of gem and jewelry communications. A certified gemologist (FGA DGA) and appraiser, she specializes in growing companies within the trade, empowering through storytelling. Her clients are designers, manufacturers, trade associations, suppliers, stone dealers, and diamond grading laboratories. She currently serves as the President of the Women’s Jewelry Association New York Metro Chapter Board, is a Past President of the Public Relations Society of America New York Chapter, chaired the inaugural 15 Under 35 Awards, and is a regular and award-winning contributor to trade and consumer publications on gem and jewelry-related topics.

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business.

When I started my business, I had to learn about the business of doing business. The amount of paperwork I needed to file and having a proper system for keeping track of the finances were things I never thought about until I started a business. Aside from working for clients, there was a lot more to do than I had considered.

Gonzalez Olga

What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?

My favorite thing about being a business owner is making my own time and earning my own way. When you don’t report to someone else, there is total freedom. You write your own destiny. You take a vacation when you want to. You experience the rush of landing a new client. It is exhilarating and freeing.

How did you overcome it?

I hired an accountant to teach me how to use QuickBooks, and how to organize all my paperwork well, and to recommend additional certifications to register for. His advice was invaluable.

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

Be resilient and kind. Bring others up with you. Being a business owner is not for the faint of heart, and there will always be ups and downs. When people see you helping others in their careers and know that you care, the business will naturally follow. People work with people they like. As for resilience, it is important not to let things get you down. Staying strong and positive is a choice, and it makes for a joyful workplace and life.

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Delegate as much as possible- When I started my business, I was doing absolutely everything, from QuickBooks accounting to the writing and pitching, to the promotion, graphic design, and social media. No one is a master at everything, and a business owner needs to focus on growing the business.
  • Take more breaks- At first, my hours were out of control. They didn’t need to be since I was choosing how much time to put into things. I should have stopped mid-day and taken more breaks.
  • Building a business is a sacrifice- When you start from the ground up, it takes everything out of you to succeed, and then some. That comes at a price. If you put a lot of time into growing a business, something is going to have to give. Be ready for that.
  • You are your network- Who you surround yourself with is key to your success. It is important to network, be open, and share ideas with those that are where you want to be one day.
  • Lemons make lemonade- Bad situations have their lessons, and they can open doors to opportunity. Instead of focusing on the negative, consider other angles and how to make something fresh.
What is your success mantra?

I am a Phoenix. I am reborn over and over. I keep rising from the ashes. I transform, and I am better than I was before.