Women Leaders

11 Inspiring Women Leaders Share Their Business-Struggle Journey

Entrepreneurship

Today’s women are unstoppable; their power and influence are rising.

As the statistics say, women’s entrepreneurship has seen 114% growth in recent years, which means women own the world’s best organizations. The global economy also relies on the flourishing female-owned business market.

They are climbing the ladder of success incredibly quickly and better know how to make the desirable changes in society with their hard work. These women are known for their incredible charisma and for encouraging other women to join their growing community. A number of studies say the women leaders are proven to be better performing than male-owned businesses.

Katia Loisel, Founder and CEO of Love Destination

A connection specialist, Katia is a relationship and body language expert, TV host, and Founder and CEO of Love Destination, a global on-demand streaming channel dedicated to everything love, dating, and relationships. Streaming over 1,500 expert-guided masterclasses, documentaries, and films in tens of millions of homes worldwide.

Katia-Loisel

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

Like most startups, our biggest challenge was funding. As a niche digital streaming channel with over 1,500 expert masterclasses, documentaries, and films dedicated to everything love, dating and relationships, Love Destination had a captive market, but when you’re launching in a digital landscape dominated by Netflix, you’ve got some pretty big competition. Marketing in the streaming space is expensive, so we needed to find a way to license content and reach our target audience without a multi-million dollar budget while reducing risk. 

How did you overcome it?

My passion and mission is what drove me, but funding is what kept me (and still keeps me) up at night. I woke up every morning asking myself, “How do I reach millions without a multi-million dollar budget?” The answer was partnerships. 

Our partnership with tech company OTTera provided just that, accelerating our road to market and allowing Love Destination to leverage its highly adaptive framework and partnerships with the world’s largest consumer electronics manufacturers, including Hisense and Vizio TV. This allowed Love Destination to do what most new digital streaming channels only dream of—launching in millions of homes through Apple iOS, Apple TV, Google Play, and on millions of Hisense and Vizio-connected TVs. We’ve since grown with new launches every month and have now launched the new Love Destination FAST 24/7 channel on PLEX, Zeason, and Distro TV. 

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

Believe in your why and back yourself 100%, surround yourself with people who are aligned with your vision, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Those aligned with your vision will want to support you and see you succeed. You’ve got this!

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

Being a business owner means living and breathing my passion and helping to spread love to millions around the world every single day. What kind of job would allow me to do that? Yes, that means trying to balance family, work, and a million other things, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Success is hard to reach because your benchmark always moves, so learn to celebrate each milestone along the way. I remember the bittersweet moment when we raised enough money from investors to launch Love Destination. I should have been ecstatic, but in reality, this success represented a whole new set of challenges and responsibilities. I had to jump out of my comfort zone and fast, and I was petrified. 
  • There’s always more to do. More money to raise deals to negotiate, fires to put out. The to-do list never ends, so it’s important to prioritize your relationships and wellbeing. Yes, especially when you’re overwhelmed and simply don’t have the time. Focussing on connection, getting support, and allowing yourself time to reflect and unwind will help you to think more clearly and deal with overwhelming and inevitable challenges that will arise.
  • Being an entrepreneur isn’t glamorous, and it’s okay to admit that you’re struggling. Growing a media-tech startup is harder than I ever imagined, and there have been many times when I’ve questioned my sanity and felt like an imposter. While you might have one title on paper, in reality, you’re probably going to wear at least 10 different hats if you’re lucky. Being an entrepreneur isn’t glamorous. In fact, it can often be the exact opposite, isolating, overwhelming, challenging…and it’s easy to think that you’re the only one having a hard time. But you’re not. When we’re open and vulnerable about our challenges, we not only invite others to do the same but can benefit from a wealth of different ideas and solutions that we might not have even considered. 
  • Surround yourself with people you can lean on. Your community will be your lifeline. If they offer to help you, accept it. People want to support you and want you to succeed. You don’t need to do everything on your own. 
  • Relationships are everything. We and invest in people first, ideas second, so we value and nurture every single relationship. Be generous with your time, ideas and friendship. 
What is your success mantra?

Love is everything. I remind myself of this every single day; it’s part of my mission and what keeps me going during the tough times. 

Sonali Chaturvedi, Founder of ShikSona Beauty

Sonali has been an entrepreneur for over 15 years and owns a small business that provides IT consulting services. Passionate about helping other women achieve the same success no matter what their circumstances, Sonali knows that feeling and looking beautiful are all part of the process. So whether it’s that quintessential no-makeup makeup look or full-coverage glam, Sonali believes that every woman should feel beautiful in their own unique way.

Sonali Chaturvedi

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

The biggest challenge that we had to face in creating Glam Set Go (our mobile beauty salon) and Shiksona (our lipline – soon to be expanded to beauty product – line that complements our mobile beauty salon) was transitioning from our previous career path and diving into the world of beauty. My sister and I have a background in the US energy industry, working across various parts of the industry over the past 15-20 years. To shift focus to a completely foreign and, in some ways, a more complex world (in our humble opinion) was certainly daunting, and it did feel like we were diving into the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim. 

How did you overcome it?

We are very lucky that we had each other to rely on. We definitely hit a lot of roadblocks along the way, and we have made some costly mistakes in the process. Those things have a way of knocking you down, especially your confidence. However, the one thing that my sister and I have ingrained in us from our parents is that if you put in the work, you can ultimately achieve the desired outcome. Like many entrepreneurs out there, we have spent countless sleepless nights trying to navigate this new world. However, we took away two important things. First, if you spend the time to learn and listen at the start, the easier the road forward will be. We looked to people who have been in the beauty industry and asked the “stupid” questions. What you end up finding out is that most people are really willing to share their experiences and help you to avoid some potential pitfalls. The second thing is that the direct path to your end goal does not likely exist. Even if you can see the steps toward what you want to achieve, sometimes you have to take an awkward path to get there. So we shed any rigidity and remained flexible and patient, always keeping in our mind our intended goal. 

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

Working in the US energy industry, where the presence of females is more of a rarity, my sister and I have grown accustomed to maneuvering in a man’s world. It can be difficult to have a voice at the table if you allow the differences in gender to impact you. We try and sidestep the gender debates/divides that are currently plaguing the corporate world by understanding what we are trying to achieve, remembering why we want to achieve it, who we are targeting with this idea, and figuring out how to efficiently execute it. The start of our companies was always based on problems that we wanted to solve in our life. From there, we figured out from conversations with others that we were not alone in this problem which led us to find our target market. After that, it is all about finding ways to execute our idea in the most efficient and cost-effective manner without sacrificing quality. If you stay focused on the path toward your end goal, the noise that is out there regarding the gender divide becomes less distracting. 

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

Our favorite thing about being a business owner is watching an idea that we had many years ago finally taken shape and transform into something that helps people – in some manner or another – get through their day-to-day lives. Creating a business is very similar to having a child. You have to spend time nurturing it, and in the beginning, it can be extremely difficult, but over time you can watch it grow into something that you can be proud of. It certainly is not all roses along the way, but sometimes after a long day of work, my sister and I will have a glass of wine and try to take a 25,000-foot look at what we have achieved so far, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from that is irreplaceable. Also, the wine helps!!

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

Here are five things that we wished someone outlined for us from the very start as it relates to the beauty industry. However, these things can also be utilized across other industries as well. 

  • Make sure you define and differentiate your brand from other brands: There are so many different beauty brands, and it’s important for the customer to see why your brand is unique. Our Beauty Brand focuses solely on providing convenient, simplified, and luxurious products/services to busy women on the go. As part of our Beauty services, we have our luxurious mobile salons (GlamTrucks) that come to your home, work, event, etc., for makeup and hair services at your convenience. Our Beauty products are created to reduce choice overload for our customers. We recently launched a lip collection that includes lipsticks that are multifunctional, made with clean ingredients (gluten-free and vegan), and are made of a limited amount of universal/timeless/inclusive shades that look amazing on any skin tone and can be used for any occasion. Also, be ready to really think outside the box in the beauty industry to set your brand apart from others (for example, one of our lip glosses, Sassy Stunner, can also be used as a highlighter for cheeks). 
  • Identify your customer: Our customer is the Busy Badass woman who is working hard and long hours, busy multitasking, is not a beauty expert, and doesn’t have time to travel to a salon and wait for hair and makeup services appointment, nor has the time to go to the store or online and try to figure out which lipstick/lip gloss shades to choose with the best ingredients. 
  • Focus on that customer: it’s important that you focus and stay true to marketing and selling to your core customer only and not try to sell to other customers. For example, it may not make sense to sell our beauty brand to women who love doing their own hair and makeup and who are makeup and hair experts/enthusiasts that enjoy trying different beauty products and choice overload. 
  • Slow and steady growth with quality products and services: It’s really important that you roll out a limited amount of beauty services and products at a time and not take the Big Bang approach to ensure you can handle capacity and provide the best service and best quality products to customers. Also, we recommend doing a soft launch for friends and family 2-4 months prior to really test the entire process end to end and fix any unexpected kinks prior to the official launch. 
  • Ensure you hire full-time team members (not part-time contractors) that are dedicated to achieving customer satisfaction. As a small business, our brand’s reputation means everything to us. We hire top, full-time talent to make sure all our clients are happy. 
What is your success mantra?

Our success mantra is that “from mistakes comes success.” For most people, it is incredibly difficult to get it right on the first go-round. With mistakes, we have the opportunity to learn, reset, and try again. So we encourage people to almost bask in the mistakes (don’t let it get you down) because, in the end, it will help you get to what you want to achieve.

Marcia Magana, Founder of LITTIL

LITTIL was founded by Maricia Magana, a social media influencer with a background in celebrity social media. Maricia worked for Interscope records to help promote artists such as Lady Gaga, Eminem, Robin Thicke, Common and Dr. Dre. She later moved on to help manage the social media for Playboy & Playboy radio. During her time around celebrities and influencers, she noticed the need for higher quality lighting products to help take better photographs and videos with mobile phones. Now, it is so much more than a lighting company – Maricia hopes to empower businesswomen, founders, and moms to bring out their inner beauty with LITTIL!

Marcia Magana

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business

I was so excited to start my business. I dreamed up LITTIL after working in celebrity promotions and marketing and started it as a selfie light company for celebrities and influencers. Immediately after this, though, I found out I was pregnant. I suffered from a great deal of morning sickness and really had to lean on my husband Brian to help me. Then COVID hit, and people weren’t out using our lights to take selfies anymore; they were quarantining and working remotely. This resulted in an important shift for our business.

How did you overcome it?

I was so thankful I could work alongside Brian during this time as he helped with product sourcing, advertising, and just being there for me as a support during my pregnancy. He really helped me take the business off the ground, filling in wherever I couldn’t.

During COVID, LITTIL shifted its focus from being a selfie light company to a brand with essential lighting for people’s Zoom calls, Webinars, and online classes while they work from home. This shift actually helped our business grow. I even had to do a few branding shoots in my two masks and a face shield as the brand evolved.

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

Start. Go for it even if you are working a full-time job or have kids. Take it from me, a mom who started a business when she was pregnant. You can do it. Follow your vision. It was given to you for a reason. Find people who support your dream and that you know you can count on.

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

My favorite part about being a business owner is being able to explore my creativity. I enjoy creating the brand materials and growing the brand itself. I built a business from the ground up with the values that are most important to me. I started LITTIL to encourage everyone to “let their light shine.” I love that our lighting enhances people’s natural beauty and, as a result, builds their confidence and inspires them to share their craft. This is so central to LITTIL that we include a compliment in every one of our boxes.

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Have a mission statement and values for your company. This can be ever-evolving but start with a foundation to build off of.
  • Get referrals from other business owners to guarantee that the people you’re hiring or working with are reliable.
  • Listen to your team and customers. Really understand your customers’ needs and wants, despite your own desires for the brand.
  • Pick a quality product. When it comes to products, really know what people find useful and don’t just focus on what you like.
  • Hire experts. For the important aspects of your brand, it’s valuable to hire experts who can develop and manage your advertising, finances, and website.

What is your success mantra?

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I am thankful for my LITTIL team, as well as the staff from our advertising agency, AdvertiseMint. We couldn’t be successful without them.

Paula Panagouleas Miller, Founder of Karmascore

Paula Panagouleas Miller is the CEO for Karmascore and a book author. She has many years of experience working in corporate finance at Fortune 500 companies. She has also founded several businesses.

Paula graduated from The University of Dayton on the Dean’s List with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration with a double major in Finance and International Business. She received her Master of Business Administration from Tiffin University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She later earned a Master of Liberal Arts with a concentration in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard University.

Paula spends her free time raising her beautiful daughter Amelia “Mia” with her loving and supportive husband, Dr. Jason Miller.

Paula Panagouleas Miller

How did you overcome it? 

Patience, continuing to communicate, clarifying the design and features of the app in the initial development phase and sticking to our guns when development issues arose (e.g., not taking “no” for an answer when the developers argued creating a feature was impossible). 

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners? 

You are incredibly capable, even if people underestimate you. It is critical to find a balance between accepting critique from others while not letting naysayers drag down your confidence. 

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

Getting the app on the app store. Translating ideas that exist in your head to a PowerPoint deck and then into a working app is fraught with delays, communication breakdowns, etc. 

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

Seeing my visions come to life. Karmascore has impacted so many people in a positive way. This is so important because poor relationships impact your mental and physical health as well as the happiness and length of your life. Seeing Karmascore change peoples lives for the better is so fulfilling. 

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Building an app is hard work and will be daunting.
  • There will be setbacks but keep going.
  • Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed.
  • Go with your gut always.
  • If it were easy, everyone would do it.

The process of getting an app coded was eye-opening to me. I went in expecting that once we had completed a wireframe—a PowerPoint deck that details every screen the app will have as well as the functionality—that the development process would proceed in a smooth, linear manner. I came to find out the process would be much more iterative and required continual communication with the team doing the app coding. 

What is your success mantra?

Dream it then do it. I think most people can live with trying and failing, but if you never try you will always live with the regret of not knowing what could have been. 

Dr. Rhonda Kalasho, Founder of Glomoderndental

Dr. Rhonda Kalasho graduates from the prestigious UCLA School of Dentistry, which is consistently ranked as the #1 Dental School in the US. She is a double board-certified Dentist who is highly regarded for her aesthetic and surgical workmanship. She is also one of a handful of dentists who have completed advanced residency training in full mouth reconstruction and hospital dentistry. Her knowledge and skill set are expansive. The quality of care and patient bedside manner of both her and her staff is extraordinary. Her office is state of the art with 3D imaging software used for all surgical cases, intraoral 3D scanners for all cosmetic and Invisalign cases, and high-speed lasers, all of which make GLO Modern Dentistry truly modern. She and her team hold superb ratings on major review platforms. Dr. Kalasho is a member of the American Academy of General Dentistry and the American Academy of Facial Aesthetics.

Dr. Rhonda Kalasho

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

The Biggest challenge has always been getting over the fear of the “what if this does not go right” mentality. It is in the back of everyone’s mind who starts their own business or who wants to start their business; they fill their minds with so much doubt that sometimes, unfortunately, that negativity gets the best of them, and they do not follow their dreams. 

How did you overcome it?

Realizing that fear and lack of confidence in yourself is the cause of limited achievement for yourself should be enough to drive your ambitions. Overcome the fear, and suddenly your dreams of being a business owner, a successful entrepreneur will be fulfilled.  

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

Being a business owner requires you to break the mold. You have to be willing to take risks, and you have to be willing to sacrifice your time, your energy, and restful sleep. The reality is, as a business owner, your responsibilities are exceptional. You are responsible for not only yourself and your family, but all the people you employ and their families. As a business owner, your success is no longer a selfish strive. Instead, your success has an immediate effect on everyone’s life around you and won all those who associate themselves with you and your business. 

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

I love the creativity of business ownership and the canvas that your own business allows you to paint on. It’s fun to try new ideas to see them work, and some to blunder, but it’s the risk, and the trials and tribulations of putting all your finances and energy into something that you know is going to be magical, and then low and behold you see the fruits of your labor fully revealed. It’s fun to develop and grow professionally, and as a business owner, you have a lot of purpose in life, which is truly rewarding.  

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Remember to ask for help from those who have done it, humble yourself, and do not be afraid to seek help and ask questions. Someone could have experienced the same issues you are facing and could help guide you to better decision-making. 
  • Save, always have backup savings, especially if you are an entrepreneur like myself. You may take on multiple projects at a time; you want to give yourself the satisfaction of savings to minimize the stress. 
  • Believe and pay for human capital. The people around you that you think to make you a better business owner, and make your business strive, need to get paid very well. Do not cheap out on good help; they are hard to find. 
  • Get a place where you can relieve nervous energy. To be a good business owner, you have to remain positive even on your worst day around your team; your positive energy is felt and can transcend. 
  • Never neglect your loved ones; as busy as you are, find time and energy to be there for the ones you love most. 
What is your success mantra?

As a person of deep faith, my success mantra is always prayer. I praise and give thanks to God for unwavering strength to continue through my days with love in my heart. 

Oberon Sinclair, Queen of Kale, Founder of My Young Auntie

Oberon is the CEO and founder of the PR and branding agency, My Young Auntie. Since she founded the company in 1997, Oberon has collaborated with, consulted for, and managed an array of notable individuals as well as clients from the high luxury, art, fashion, food and lifestyle sectors. Oberon has worked with many noteworthy names, including Hermes, Vivienne Westwood and Fabergé, the Richemont Group, Jack Spade, ArtForum Magazine, Fat Radish, Rizzoli Books, Island Record, David Lee Roth, and many more.

Oberon Sinclair

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

The biggest challenge I faced with starting my own business was not having the funds to support it. I had clients but worried about being able to manage salaries, bills, etc. 

How did you overcome it?

I overcame this challenge by deciding to charge my clients at the beginning of the month. I can honestly say this solution has saved me over the years. Therefore, it stopped me from worrying about being late with any bills, salaries, etc. Instead of the 30-day cycle that many companies do, I make sure to be paid on the first of every month.  

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

My advice to aspiring female business owners is always to be confident in your work. I have always been confident in how I work and with everything that I do. Because of this, I have received excellent results over the years. Subsequently, my reputation has spoken for itself. So, if you love what you do, care about the campaigns you work on, and select who you work with carefully, you will succeed. The world is so much more evolved now than when I first started my business in 1997. I was never worried about being a female but always believed that if I was capable of doing a job well, I would succeed, no matter what.  

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

My favorite thing about being a business owner is the freedom that it’s given me over the years. It has given me the time to concentrate on important moments in my work rather than having back-to-back meetings and conference calls. Working in the corporate world can be challenging to quickly achieve specific goals, as there can be a lot of red tape to wade through. With my own agency, I can execute campaigns, events, and anything else that I am working on faster and efficiently. I can also choose who to work with as an agency, making my working life happier!

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • It doesn’t take a lot of money to start a business. A cell phone and computer are all you need. I started with these two vitals in 1997, out of my kitchen.
  • Have a super-smart lawyer for contracts
  • Have a brilliant accountant, so your accounts and bills are always in order and up to date.
  • Have clients pay you at the beginning of every month, so you are never behind on any bills.
  • Always be honest with your clients, even if you disagree. They will always respect your opinion, and in doing so, you will deliver work you are incredibly proud of. 
What is your success mantra?

My success mantra is treating my staff kindly, having manners, and of course, a sense of humor! Making sure I collaborate with companies and clients that align with my values and always try to over-deliver. I make sure to stay positive, even in challenging situations, because there is always a solution no matter what. I love what I do and continue to stay curious about everything. You can never stop learning. I am incredibly fortunate to do what I do. Don’t take any of it for granted. 

Jordan Corcoran, founder of Listen Lucy

Nationally recognized motivational speaker, mental health advocate and author, Jordan Corcoran, is a Mercyhurst College graduate with a story to share. During her freshman year, she was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. After going through a difficult struggle with coming to terms and learning to cope, Jordan created an outlet where people can openly and candidly share their own personal challenges and struggles- an outlet where she can also use her lived experiences to end the stigma surrounding mental health. 

Jordan

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

There were so many challenges when starting my business that it is truly hard to choose, but I think setting realistic expectations for myself was difficult. I thought I was going to have overnight success– it has been 8 years, and I am still working on getting where I want to be. I overcame this harsh reality by adjusting my expectations, working multiple jobs, and learning to evolve my business to give it the best chance to succeed. It’s been an overwhelming and incredibly rewarding experience to grow as a business owner.

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

The best advice I was given was from my uncle. I was telling him about my financial aspirations and some of the struggles I was facing as a business owner, and he told me, ‘You are going to need to be a bulldog in business. Never back down.’ I have not only taken this advice and applied it to my everyday business practices but have shared it with every other business owner I meet. Females have been told that their confidence and assertiveness are seen as cockiness and being too bossy. That’s ridiculous and also just a way to keep women down. Ignore that. Be a bulldog. Outwork everyone around you, be confident in your ability, shake hands firmly, follow up constantly, don’t back down, take your seat at the table, and get what you deserve.

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

Making a difference in people’s lives is a privilege and a gift I will never take for granted. Finally, paying myself from my own skills, talents, and belief in myself is a very close second. I worked multiple jobs for about 7 years, and I’m finally solely working for myself and paying my bills while contributing to my household. It’s an accomplishment I didn’t know would feel this good.

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Save 30% of your revenue for taxes.
  • Starting your own business and being your own boss is the dream — but it is a lifestyle that is not for the faint of heart.
  • There are no days off…but learn to set boundaries from the very beginning.
  • There are going to be days you want to quit, take the easier route, give up– don’t listen to those thoughts. Feel your feelings, get it out, go to your support system and then pick yourself back up and carry on.
  • Surround yourself with people who push you and have good intentions. Don’t feel bad about walking away from people, places, or things in business (or your personal life) that bring toxic energy to you.
What is your success mantra?

Just because people aren’t listening yet doesn’t mean you don’t have something important to say. Adjust your message, speak louder, and make them hear you.

Allison Walsh, CEO of Two National Coaching Firms

For over 15 years, Allison has carved her own path as a seasoned executive, speaker, professional consultant, and CEO of two national coaching firms. Allison has publicly spoken to over 100,000 people across the U.S. as well as been featured in Huff Post Live, FOX News, Lifetime, PBS, and NBC, as a complement to her perceptiveness as an entrepreneur and business professional. Her involvement in the public sphere has granted her the opportunity to sit on the boards of several nonprofit and government organizations as well as founding her own mental health nonprofit. Her philanthropic work and business savvy have allowed her to be named Orlando Business Journal’s 2021 Women Who Mean Business Honoree and was chosen for OBJ’s 2021 40 under 40

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

My first business was truly born during the recession because I needed to figure out how to help us dig ourselves out of the hole that we were in as a result of my husband losing his job. While this was definitely a challenge at first, it led me to be impactful in my decision-making and where I put my energy because there was so much on the line. 

Allison Walsh

How did you overcome it? 

I always knew I had experiences that I could share and that there were people out there who wanted to learn what I had to offer, so I figured out a pricing structure and started hustling. This was when I decided to have faith in myself and take matters into my own hands. It paid off because I was getting great results, and word-of-mouth referrals were coming in, which gave me the confidence to go bigger. I decided to partner with a dear friend to expand the business, which was such a great decision and experience. In 2015, I returned to solo practice and evolved what I previously offered to reach a new clientele. Fast forward to 2021, and my niche has continued to evolve, as I have. One could say coaching and consulting are what led me to a path of overcoming my challenges. It is also a huge plus that it always provided me with so much joy, and I am eternally grateful for the way it all turned out. 

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners? 

 I believe that, as individuals, we have to take ownership of our futures. We all have ideas, skill sets, passions, and talents that can be monetized if we’re willing to give it a try. Once you lay out a plan for what you want to do, the most important and critical step is HOW. I see way too many people with brilliant ideas fail at execution – not because they weren’t capable – but because they allowed their excuses to be way louder than their WHY. I work with clients who search for accountability and guidance because they believe that they can’t accomplish anything or achieve results on their own. Once I dig further, more often than not, I realize that the only thing standing in their way is themselves –– their self-doubt, fears, restrictions. My advice is to always believe in yourself because you will grow stronger, more resilient, and more capable each and every day, and I promise you will be so impressed with yourself that you will start committing to your “why” and stay crystal clear on your vision. 

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

 I love being in the driver’s seat and having the ability to create and execute on a daily basis. Ultimately I know that my success is a result of the amount of effort and attention I put into it, and it’s been incredibly fulfilling to go from concept to creation time and time again. 

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  •  The riches are in the niches – It’s our natural intuition to want to cater to as many people as possible, but I can completely attest to the fact that incredible success happens when you niche down and truly know your ideal client. There have been multiple times during the course of building my company where I cast the net too large, and in the attempt of speaking to everyone, I would end up speaking to no one. As soon as I pulled back, got really clear on exactly who my ideal client was, what they needed and wanted, and showed up ready to serve, it all fell into place. 
  • Dilute your focus, dilute your results – When you take on too much at one time, you end up not doing anything well. Starting a business is a lot of work, but identifying your support system can help you focus on building your business instead of getting stuck in the business. Even if your desire is to run a small business or be a solopreneur, hiring a coach or consultant for advice, outsourcing tasks, or utilizing freelancers for projects along the way can help you significantly. 
  • Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should – I have to constantly remind myself of this. I love to learn new things, and I can easily lose hours from my day if I am drawn into anything creative. I’ve had to be very conscious about prioritizing my time, especially as the business grew, and learned to trust the team I had around me to get the work done that I hired them to do. By staying focused on the priorities that I need to complete, I am able to show up fully for my clients and give them my attention rather than waste time doing something that someone else can handle. If you’re a solopreneur, I highly recommend you find a virtual assistant or freelancer who can help you with tasks that take you away from building your business. It will make a massive difference. 
  • Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish – Invest, invest, and invest more in the growth of your business. It took me way longer than it should have to adopt this mentality. Looking back, I could have saved so much time, energy, and money had I spent resources wisely rather than operating from a bootstrap mentality. It’s a common misconception that new businesses have to keep a tight budget. In reality, it takes spending money, the smart way, to make significant progress in the growth of your business. Trust me, I love a good hustle, but if there’s a way to accelerate progress by making an investment in your business, figure out how to make it happen, and go for it. 
  • You’ve got to get, and stay, visible – I know getting super visible and sharing what you do with the world can be intimidating, but your results will be so much better if you put fears aside and go for it. People do business with people and brands that they know, like, and trust. The better you can build your brand and show up authentically where they need to see you, the better your results will be. No one is looking under rocks trying to find you, and I fully understand the worries or concerns you have for showing up in a big way are real. However, I promise, the more you do it, the easier it will get. Then it’s up to you to stay on top of trends and always know where your ideal clients are so you can take advantage of the opportunities to engage with them, whether that’s in person or online. 
What is your success mantra? 

Be 1% better each and every day. Instead of trying to be great all at one time, small improvements every day can go a long way. Don’t get caught up in the noise of achieving “greatness”; instead, focus on the little things that build up to making a huge impact in the long run –– in business and in life.

Lara Schmoisman, Founder & CEO of The Darl

Lara Schmoisman is a marketing strategist, coach, international  speaker, and a podcaster. Lara’s, How to Design Your Business to Stand Out from the Crowd in the Digital World helps entrepreneurs, personal brands, and those seeking to build an in-house marketing department open  their eyes to the big picture and stop missing opportunities.  

Lara Schmoisman

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

I had to deprogram a lot of the self-imposed boundaries that were only holding me back in my mind. I moved to the US when I was 24 years old. I didn’t speak any English back then, and even now, so many years later, I still have an accent. For the longest time, I thought that the way I sounded would prevent me from getting clients or would automatically close doors for me. When in reality, it is what sets me apart. I come from a multicultural background, which gives me an edge; not only can I relate on different levels with others, but I can also adapt easily to my surroundings. 

How did you overcome it?

One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in life is how to adapt. And honestly, this is coming from someone who’s fallen down and had to get back up to reach her goals. I’ve had to be scrappy and earn my rightful place in the industry. Proving that I can get the job done regardless of my non-American education, ethnic background, or imperfect English language skills.

Ultimately, you may think you know what you actually want to do and that you are carving your path in a certain way, but life might have a different idea. And sometimes, it throws curveballs your way. It then becomes your ability to be alert and catch them that makes you unique. Success only happens after you learn how to fall, get up, and try again. 

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

You’re unique, and your business is unique in its own way; you just need to find that spark. Have an idea before you start, hire a coach or mentor, and ALWAYS listen to your gut. 

Start-ups and entrepreneurs have to be ready to make mistakes because they will make a few along the way. The only way to learn is through trial and error. Don’t be afraid to test the waters and try new things. It is also ok to ask for help; you don’t have all the answers when you are starting out, so don’t be afraid to ask for the advice of a mentor. 

One of the biggest mistakes I see is people trying to copy other people’s strategies. Marketing isn’t one-size-fits-all. The fact that something worked for a friend or colleague does not mean it will work for you. Each business is unique, so you need to create a strategy that is uniquely–tailored to fit YOU. In fact, individuality is what will set you apart from the competition.

Last but not least, it’s very important you learn how to outsource and delegate and create your own workflow; you can’t, and you shouldn’t be doing everything yourself. Have the courage to embrace your mistakes and the curiosity to learn from them. Success only happens after you learn how to fall, get up, and try again. 

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

The challenge. I am thrilled by the idea of coming up with creative solutions for our clients. I love being busy, and lucky for me; there is never a boring day at the office; there is always something to do, a call to hop on, or things that need approval. Also, because we have clients from different industries, we have to constantly think outside the box, which keeps my team and me sharp. I think that if we would specialize in one specific area, it could get a bit robotic for us. 

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Leadership is not about rank: You lead by example, so leading a team is all about mentoring. For me, it’s important that they know I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. A leader is someone who is there emotionally for their team, is leading them with intention, that is, communicating, that can read between the lines. 
  • Design a work culture: Company culture is an integral part of any business. It affects nearly every aspect of a company, and, at the end of the day, people want to understand where they’re going and what they’re working for. They want to be part of a team with the same beliefs and goals they have. And that’s where company culture can revolutionize everything. Your values and vision are the foundation that will influence what your culture looks like, so take some time to pin them down if you haven’t already. 
  • Learn how to hire a team: When it is your own endeavor, you must understand the process if you decide to hire someone. I recommend reconsidering your performance management system to adjust what behavior is rewarded and optimizing your hiring process to recruit only good cultural fits. 
  • Sometimes you need to make difficult decisions to affect the least amount of people: In many situations, doing a cleanup is mandatory. Things that are broken need to go; some have seen better days and also need to be set aside. Take a moment and look at the big picture: if someone or something isn’t working, you, as a leader, need to put your feelings aside and do what’s best for your business as a whole. 
  • How to fire a client: Sometimes, it just needs to be done. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to salvage the relationship; in some situations, it just won’t work, and in the end, it will cost you more. When your trusted team is telling you that they can’t work with a client, this is a big deal. Always try to be fair and to give very clear and explicit warnings. I believe everyone deserves a second chance. With that being said, my team is my chosen family, and they are the reflection of me and my beliefs. For me, my role as a leader is to protect my team first. They are the ones in the trenches fighting for the company, and when they bring something like this to my attention, I need to listen. 
What is your success mantra?

“Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable” – Coco Chanel.

Jessica Randhawa, Founder of The Forked Spoon

Jessica Randhawa is head chef, recipe creator, photographer, and writer behind The Forked Spoon. She create delicious family-friendly recipes that anyone can make, easily.

Jessica Randhawa

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

The best advice I can give other female chefs or restaurateurs to thrive and avoid burnout is to make sure to schedule personal time into your busy days. For me, that means I schedule exercise time like running, swimming, or group fitness classes. This personal time allows me to reflect, analyze, and recharge for when I jump back into the grind afterward or the next day.

The biggest challenge I faced at the start of my business and how I overcame it.

Staying motivated with a continually changing world can pose severe challenges to any CEO. I firmly believe that finding outlets outside of work and scheduling those outlets regularly has helped me stay focused and motivated in my time for business. Pre-pandemic, I was a massive fan of Cross Fit like High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) group classes, which I would do 5 to 6 days per week to clear my head, spike my heart rate up, get my endorphins pumping. With my gym shut down and no opening insight, I have had to look for new ways to get those same benefits, which will help me continue to grow my business. I turned my focus to trail running with my dog in the hills behind my house. While it is not quite the same workout level, I can clear my head in nature while enjoying flora and fauna (not including our local rattlesnakes). These long runs help me stay focused and allow my headspace to be refreshed when I return to business.

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

Flexibility! Over the years, I have honed a strategic way to schedule out my days to elevate productivity and allow for creative time, all while allowing for flexibility. Every day I set my general project-based goals in my digital calendar – this is what needs to be accomplished to keep my business on track. At the same time, on most days, I also try to schedule in my personal time. This intimate time allows me to clear my head, get in a quick workout, or step away from the projects at hand so I can jump back into it refreshed. I have discovered that scheduling this personal time keeps me focused both before and after that personal time break. Without having that substantial break of personal time, I was getting distracted more quickly, and I found myself being less productive overall at the end of the day. I keep this personal time private on my calendar, as I don’t need to let others on my team know that I am on an hour-long trail run in the hills behind my house in the late morning. Having that personal break also allows a bit of flexibility in allowing a second soft start to knock out small items before jumping back into the day’s primary goals.

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Have a strong proven digital strategy. Given the state of the world with this pandemic and the economy, having a robust digital strategy is more critical than ever. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to digital strategy — save the inventing for the kitchen!
  • Don’t be afraid to invest in contractors with specialized skill sets. This goes for any part of the business that you don’t have the expertise in, is project-based, or that you don’t want to hire full-time staff. Hiring the right people for the right job is essential for growth. Just make sure that you do your due diligence with verified referrals or reviews of the services offered.
  • The most cost-efficient isn’t always the best. When spending that hard-earned money, analyze the total return on investment over the possible lifespan of any expense.
  • Go all in. While the overall process should be viewed as a marathon in the greater scheme of things, fully committing to the entrepreneurial drive is essential to build the momentum.
  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint. As with most things in life, it takes time to get the energy going at a comfortable pace. While there certainly are times where full-on sprinting is necessary, you should always keep the long game in mind.
What is your success mantra?

“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” – Notorious RBG.

Maria Karr, Founder of Rumore Beauty

Maria is the founder of Rumore Beauty – the first Russian beauty store in the US.

The biggest challenge you faced at the starting of your business

I come from a corporate background, and my business – RumoreBeauty – is my first take at launching my own business. I’ve built a successful career spearheading PR and Communications for leading global beauty brands, but starting a business requires so much more, and there are other areas of expertise that go into launching a product. As an entrepreneur, I get to work across all fields of the business, including logistics, creative, product development, customer development, digital, marketing, and the list goes on and on. While I didn’t have exposure to some areas of the business in the past, I’ve taken on a challenge to learn more and bring myself up to speed on the subjects that I was unfamiliar with. 

How did you overcome it?

I’m very new to entrepreneurship, so I’m still navigating this space and learning every day. That involves a lot of testing, creativity, and a positive attitude. I’m a believer that practice makes it perfect, and while I’m new to certain areas of the business, I’m confident that with hard work and putting effort into it, I will get a good grasp on them soon or find a way to get this expertise through delegating. It’s also true when it comes to time management and identifying priorities. I think that for people like me who may have spent years working on the corporate side, being a new entrepreneur is like starting a new job. You may not have all the answers, and many things seem foreign, but eventually, you will gain a certain comfort level and familiarity with the job at hand.  

Another challenge that I’ve faced as an entrepreneur is managing time and setting up priorities. There are so many tasks that require attention, so many questions to answer, and many emails to respond to. Although I’ve always been priding myself on finding ways to effectively balance work and life and use time efficiently, entrepreneurship challenged my existing time management skills. 

When it comes to the specifics of my business, we’re the first Russian beauty store in the US, and our biggest challenge is bringing awareness to our e-commerce platform and Russian brands that we proudly represent. While there are many other global beauty brands that are available to US consumers, Russian beauty is new, so we have a lot of work to do in spreading the word and sharing what we have to offer with American beauty lovers. 

What advice do you have for aspiring female business owners?

You don’t know what it is unless you give it a try. You may like it or you may not, but you will have your own opinion about it, and that’s what matters. It’s easy to find reasons to support the “what if it doesn’t…” way of thinking – you may not have the financial stability, you may not have a lot of time on your hands, or there could be other challenges along the way that may make you think that it’s not the right time. The truth is the right time may never happen, and your dream may remain unrealized. And while I’ve been guilty of finding reasons for not making a change and playing it safe, lately, I’ve been adopting the “what if it does…” mentality. What if my business takes off? What if I can create a product that brings value to other people and makes my life more fulfilling? What if it does work out? But you need to give it a try to know, work hard and be persistent in getting closer to your goals. 

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

For me, it’s an opportunity to constantly learn and grow, discover new things, and challenge myself every day. It’s also an opportunity to be able to bring your vision to life and see how your idea takes shape and becomes a reality. 

What are your- “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
  • Your previous skills may come in handy, but you can’t fully rely on past experiences. If you had another business or worked at a company, your skills are valuable. However, they may not fully translate into your new venture. Why? Your product is different, so you will need to identify opportunities that will be relevant. Your audience may not be the same, so you will have to find different ways to reach it and connect with them. Your budgets will change, and that means that you may not be able to have the flexibility to do things that you did before. 
  • Running a business is not as glamorous as you may see on TV and social media. Media has been glamourizing startups through creating an image of a young entrepreneur who has it all – an established business, happy family or relationships, flexible schedule, relaxed lifestyle, trips around the world with some work by the beach with a glass of wine in hand. I’m sure there are people like that in real life. But the reality is that most entrepreneurs don’t have that lifestyle, and it may take a while to get closer to this way of living. What media doesn’t show us is long nights, dealing with pressure and stress, and making sacrifices to grow the business. And that’s an inevitable part of being an entrepreneur and achieving success through hard work. 
  • It will take time to see results, so be prepared to be patient. Being a New Yorker, I’ve got used to getting everything quickly – from food delivery to signing important business deals. Living in New York also taught me to set the bar high, be very ambitious, and expect the best outcome. So, when my unrealistic goals weren’t met during the first few weeks of launching a business, I’ve become very impatient and frustrated at myself for not getting the results I wanted fast enough (and what I mean by this – immediately). But launching a new business is like starting a new job, picking up a new hobby, or learning a new language. While you may have what it takes to succeed in it, it won’t come right away and will take time to develop and grow. I wouldn’t expect myself or anyone to start learning a new language from scratch and be able to comfortably have a conversation with native speakers in a couple of weeks. 
  • Every business is different, and you’ll need to find your own way. While you may be following other entrepreneurs, listening to interviews, and reading books, every business is different, and it’s up to you to find the best way to do it. At the end of the day, that’s probably one of the reasons why you became an entrepreneur. It is great to learn from others and get to know how they’ve overcome challenges, reached their goals, and found their success, but it is their business, and that is something that worked for them at that specific time under certain circumstances. Each entrepreneur’s path is different – not good or bad – but it’s unique, and that’s the beauty of it, to be able to make a difference with your vision and carve out a very special path for yourself and your business journey. 
  • It will be a great journey! Sometimes we think of business as a destination – you launch it, or you get your first results but think of it as a journey. From my experience, your journey doesn’t stop when a product goes live; it continues and evolves, the road may be winding and get treacherous along the way, but it will be taking you places that you’ve never been to before, leading to discoveries and new experiences. It may not be an easy journey, but it’s worth exploring, and it will turn out to be a great one. 
 What is your success mantra?

There are no shortcuts on the road to success. Building a business is a process, and it takes time, effort, and passion for what you do. As an avid runner, I like to think about it as a marathon, not a sprint, and if you want to cross the finish line and be proud of your accomplishment, you must put in the effort and do your personal best.