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Seven Tips From Small Businesswomen

Oct. 1, 2012
Small Business
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In honor of National Women’s Small Business Month, we asked female small business owners to give us advice for others looking to follow in their footsteps.  Although it can be more difficult for emerging businesswomen to find mentors than small businessmen because the industry is male-dominated, these tips are applicable for all genders.

Below, small businesswomen sound off on how they achieved their success!

1. Find a mentor and ask for help when you need it

Amy Zhang, Affinity Fund Services, LLC

“Mentorship should be sought out from all circles. These can be fellow entrepreneurs, maybe in a different industry, potential clients, bigger corporate owners who may give you inspiration and big pictures. The mentorship may be formal or informal–just keep at it.”

Ellen Mastros, New Work New Life

“The biggest tip I would give other women wanting to start their own businesses is to not be afraid to reach out and ask for help.  Other women business owners are usually happy to offer advice and assistance when they can, but ask men too.  Tell everyone you know what you are doing and what you need.  You never know who might have a connection or have a solution to your problem.”

Reilly Starr, Naked Sports Gear

“I have office space from a women’s start-up organization, studio space offered by another established small businesswoman and inventory/shipping provided by another established businesswoman. These are the types of people that understand what you are going through and what you need to help you succeed during the start-up phase of a new business. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Lynne Lambert, NYC Subway Line

“Seek mentoring, absolutely. My first mentor was the father of one of my son’s first grade friends. Try traditional mentoring sources like SCORE, but don’t be discouraged if they don’t “get” your idea. Try to find women mentors in your industry whose businesses would not
be competitive with yours.”

Elle Kaplan, CEO of Lexion Capital Management

Mentors are so important! They will often have a bigger vision for you than you have for yourself. This will keep you moving forward.”

2. Be a mentor

Sophia Mitchell, Sophia Mitchell & Associates

Have a network of mentors. I have always believed in the importance of having mentors. I have a network of people both inside and outside of my industry that I can call when I have either a technical question or a business-related question. I find that people actually like to help and share their professional knowledge. By the same token, make yourself available for those that are up and coming in your industry.”

Tess Finkle, Metro PR

“I wish more women were available to mentor me.  Unfortunately, many did not make themselves available, even after speaking about the importance of guiding the next generation at Power Women Breakfasts into which I used to sneak in.”

Jeannie M. Bush, Amenity Electrolysis, LLC

“I had a female mentor that knew nothing about electrolysis, but everything about business. Stayed with her for 12 years until her retirement. I, in turn, have mentored another young woman.”

3. Confidence is key

Roxana Hewertson,  Highland Consulting Group

“There is a big divide between confidence and arrogance. Confidence comes from a strong sense of self-worth and self-awareness. Arrogance comes from fear in many cases and a sense of entitlement in others. The best leaders are very confident in what they know and can do from an objective view, rather than an assumed view. These leaders continuously test themselves to see what they are capable of, stretching and growing and learning. At the same time, great leaders tend to be grounded, centered, stable people who are calm during a crisis, and rock solid in modeling their core values, particularly under pressure. A sure sign of this quality is when others say, “I always know and respect where (s)he stands, even if I disagree.”

Teajai Kimsey, Ideas That Work!

“Charge what you are worth. Women have a tendency to undercut themselves. When you charge what you are worth you’ll make enough to pay
the bills and then some.”

Maryam Faresh, What About Daisy

“I think the most common mistake young woman make is to second guess themselves. Even if you ended up making the “wrong” decision these experiences are vital in our growth personally and professionally.”

4. Network

Laura Knapp, Social Spotlight Media

“I think networking is extremely important, especially among other female entrepreneurs. In my experience so far, fellow businesswomen have been very willing and excited to help another female business owner succeed – and, who knows, it might even lead to a success collaboration and/or partnership.”

Staci Lawrence, Flash Mob America

“I have an address book filled with hundreds of people I may have only met once, or even just over email, but I hold on to their information for that time when what they do and what I need (or vice versa) could come together for a successful partnership.”

Dr. Joy S. Pedersen, Express Success

“I owe much of my success to networking. Without the support, advice and referrals of others, I wouldn’t have had as easy a time in reaching my desired goals. Networking opens the door to new business and opportunity but also provides enormous resources and insights otherwise unrealized.”

Candice Sabatini, Beauty News NYC

“Join professional organizations in your industry and go to a lot of their events, even if they don’t directly apply to you. Get rid of the idea of “networking” at these events. Networking implies a quid pro quo and that’s not what you’re doing here, you are building relationships. You may enjoy the friendly relationship of someone in your organization that cannot help you now. However, in ten years you two might be helping each other. If you’ve built a trusting friendship, they’ll want to help you, and you them. Networking is also great, so join some networking organizations. You’re all there for the same reason. Often they meet once a month for breakfast. Tell everyone about your business.”

Jennifer Daly, Kinespirit

“The community of women business owners is robust with mentors, colleagues, and team spirit if you take the time to find the groups that are a good fit for you. And that research period is key – every business group has a different dynamic and you need to shop around to find the one where you feel comfortable and able to connect.”

5. Trust Your Instincts

Colleen Lloyd-Roberts, Top Notch Nail Files

“Keep your own counsel. Most of us inherently know what’s best and what to do, yet we seek the counsel of others when really we’re looking for validation of our decisions. As women we tend to do that. Validation comes in the form of money from your customers. People will acknowledge your business through buying your products or services. That’s your validation. And always remember – you don’t have to take someone else’s advice. If that were true, Disney World wouldn’t exist today!”

JK Shaulis, The Excellence Expert

“Remember yourself and your true voice as you get started. One mistake I made was to leave one miserable job working for someone else to another miserable job working for myself! I tried to fit my vision into the mold of others rather than remaining true to what I wanted to accomplish for others and myself. When I reconnected to my vision of helping women fully express themselves with authenticity and audacity, and allowed myself to trust my gut/inner guidance, my business started to take off.”

6. Get certified

Mara Woloshin, Woloshin Communications Inc.

“Make a plan and work with it. This should include certification with the state government as a woman-owned, emerging small business.”

7. The timing will never be perfect—just start, even if you’re afraid of failure

Colleen King, Colleen King Insurance Agency

“If you wait until everything is perfect, you’ll never do it. But make sure things
are as good as possible. If I had known how tough making my business viable would be, I
probably never would have done it. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.”

Heather Hermen, Front Burner Media
“My tips for small businesswomen would be to have a positive attitude, explore your opportunities, do research, and in the end- push through the fear. Fear can be the biggest thing to hold you back but if the fear propels you rather than holding you down, it will be a driving force in your business”

Diane Conklin, Complete Marketing Systems

“As a business women who has been in business for 15 plus years my advice to others would be to go for their dreams in as big a way as possible, to always invest in themselves, to get a good business and marketing coach and to start everything sooner than they think because there will never be a right time to do things – things will never be perfect and there will always be reasons (read excuses) not to do things.”

Jean Newell, Newco Enterprises, LLC

“Believe anything is possible, enjoy what you do, do whatever it takes and don’t abandon your dreams.”