Women Are Really Smart – Here’s Some Start-Up Advice

Portrait of successful female business team in office. Multiracial business group standing together and looking at camera.

There is some recent data from a publication called the Rose Review Progress Report, which says more than 140,000 female-founded companies were created in 2021 alone and that number is growing.  

Makes sense to me.  Women are creative and intelligent.  I know because I have a mother who originally founded the business I now own and an amazingly talented wife who consistently inspires me personally and professionally. But, like all entrepreneurs, there are a ton of misconceptions about what you need to start a business. The trick is not to become distracted, focus on your goals and avoid the extraneous b.s. in the initial stages of a company launch.  

An interesting online blog called The Stylist (no, it’s apparently not for beauticians) recently spoke to “business savvy women” about what it takes to get your small business running. The funny thing is that these principles apply to both men and women, so why they have felt the need to author a piece focusing on female ideas about business is like me saying, I’d like to order food only made by male chefs.  All entrepreneurs, regardless of gender and sexual identity, presumably have the same ability to cook edible or, for that matter, inedible food using the same ingredients.   

That said, this article has some good advice, and I agree with about 80% of it.  As to my wife’s advice? 100% (I’m not stupid). After all, she is a successful no-nonsense lawyer who holds me accountable for all of my decisions and is one of the savviest business minds I know.   

Here are a few highlights of the Stylist article: 

Community is Key

“Having a support network is essential,” says Emily Austen, founder of successful PR agency Emerge London. “Not least for the emotional toll that running a business takes, but also for learning and sharing. In 2012, when I started my business, it was much harder to connect with other female founders.”

Irene Agbontaen, the fashion brand TTYA London founder, also believes that your friendships are another way to gain expert insight. “Always lean into your network and ask questions,” Agbontaen advises. “When I started TTYA London, I had previously worked as a stylist, so I was confident in the practical elements of my job. However, I had no experience managing contracts with stores and factories, so I spoke to my friends who are lawyers and buyers and got their advice.

Believe In Yourself and Your Ideas

“When it comes to getting your side hustle or business idea off the ground, it’s important to cut through the noise and find your own style,” says Tia Talula, photographer and content creator.

“Find something unique that distinguishes you from your competitors and then do your research. When I started out, I looked at social media accounts in America and other countries to help develop my style and offer something different to local photographers.”

Deborah Curwell, the founder of east London’s Breathe Barbers, adds: “Don’t let money motivate you. Instead, ask yourself if you really love this idea enough to commit to it 24/7 for the foreseeable future because that’s the reality of starting a small business. It’s hard work, but so worth it if you believe in your product and yourself.”

Make Friends With Technology

Managing cash flow, invoicing and project mapping, and apps such as Slack to keep communication working, means you have to spend less time-solving tech issues and more time running your business. “You have to be prepared to always try something new when it comes to technology,” Talula adds. “I’m 45 and have had to bring myself up to speed with social media platforms in order to stay competitive. If you tell yourself you don’t understand something without even trying it out, then you’ve already set yourself and your business idea back.”

 Don’t be Afraid to Fail

“Being aware of how events might take an unexpected turn and being prepared for that is a more valuable learning,” says Curwell, who started her small business during the pandemic. “It’s not a failure if something doesn’t go to plan; it’s just a different route. And that new route could present a whole new set of possibilities.”

Set Goals and Identify What Success Means to You

Austen reflects on the best piece of advice she received when starting out and how it’s helped her achieve her goals. “Stop playing business and start doing business,” she says. “You’ve always got to have something of substance underpinning the ultimate goal for your business idea. Goals without plans are basically pipe dreams.”

Women entrepreneurs will continue to be a driving force in building new businesses and opportunities in this economy.  But no matter what your gender or identity, be mindful to make an effort to identify what success looks like for you so that you can effectively move your ideas forward to fulfill the business dreams you have.

Thanks to The Stylist for this insightful content.