Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book to facilitate my review, but no other compensation was received.
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” ~Napoleon Hill
2014 looks to be the year of women entrepreneurs. A staggering one-third of all US firms are majority owned by women, according to a study done by American Express.
When Crystal from Blue Lobster Book Co. asked me to read and review a new book about women entrepreneurs written by Jenn Aubert, I agreed because I consider myself an entrepreneur. The decision to start my own business was based on several factors, but the biggest one was my desire to control my own destiny.
An entrepreneurial mindset is different from those who prefer a set schedule and the security a 9-5 job provides. Jenn calls it a “fixed” versus a “flexible” mindset. Remember though, nothing is set in stone…we all have the capacity to change.
If you dream of becoming an entrepreneur, being able to embrace change is important. You must be willing to learn and be open to trying new things, or you won’t get very far.
Jenn Aubert interviewed more than 100 women entrepreneurs in Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready, Set, Launch!, focusing on the traits, motivations, and styles of these women. They talk about what works and what doesn’t. But the bottom line is, it’s your own personal foundation that will lead you to success.
I decided to take the same type of discussion to a few of the women entrepreneurs I know. They’re at varying stages of their business, from successful and established to relatively new on the scene. However, I think you will see some common threads as you read through the answers to the questions I gave them, and perhaps even some answers that surprise you.
Jenn explored a number of different topics in her book. For brevity’s sake, I’m only going to touch on one of them. But since the business owners I reached out to gave me so much great material, you can expect another post (or two) on the subject of entrepreneurs.
One of the things Jenn touched on is the “fear of failure.” It’s hard enough to “get out of your own way,” as she puts it, and overcome your own fears and hurdles. But then on top of it all, there always seems to be a person or two in our life that seems to be intent on planting seeds of self doubt.
I asked the following question:
Dealing with naysayers can be tough, especially when it is a close family member or friend whose opinion you respect. Did someone close to you make you second guess the decision to start your own business (or a decision you made along the way)? How did it make you feel? How did you get past it? Or did you re-evaluate a decision because of it?
Cathi Nelson: Founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, a membership association that trains, supports, and provides industry tools to Personal Photo Organizers across the US, Canada, and even internationally, equipping them to rescue, manage, organize and save your photos allowing you to find, preserve and share your stories.
“A clear memory of this was a meeting I had with a business attorney. She told me to refocus my direction and become a business coach, she just did not understand the concept of photo organizing as a business model nor did she believe anyone would pay for my services. I left her office completely depleted, discouraged, and a bit angry. On the way home I got a phone call from a potential client. I took a deep breath, shared my rates. He said “no problem” and asked me when I could pick up his photos. I feel like the timing of those events, happening within an hour of each other was significant. I realized there would always be naysayers, and I had to trust my instincts. You really have to be passionate and believe in what you are creating with single minded tenacity to be successful.”
Ilene Evans: Owner of Hippie Chick Granola, hand baked granola made from the finest ingredients, available both online and at Ilene’s North Carolina storefront.
“Maybe it’s because I began this business after ending a marriage and making a geographic relocation with my children 600 miles away from my family – both which elicited a lot of naysaying – so by the time I started planning the business, I had already learned to tune it out. People tell me every day I’m going to fail, and this is what I know. When the naysayers arrive, their negativity has nothing to do with me or my business and has as everything to do with their own fears that they are projecting on me and my business. They mean well. Usually.”
Julie Morris: President of Fotobridge, a nationwide company specializing in photo scanning and digital image processing.
“We had more naysayers than I ever would have imagined – the “why would you do that”? and “why would anyone use a service like that?” questions loomed over us for the first 6 months of development. Even my own parents didn’t really get it for the first year we were in business. It’s hard to push those words out of your head, but you have to learn not to let them bring you down and when you are having a tough day or rough spot to avoid those calls.”
Maureen Kenny: Owner of Nutmeg Olive Oil, a storefront and online store carrying specialty olive oils and a wide range of dark and light balsamic vinegars.
“I did not have any close friends or family that were naysayers…in fact they are who got me thorough the tough times. When I was hit with self doubt, they stepped in and convinced me that I could do it. I could not have done it without them.”
Seana Turner: Connecticut based professional organizer at The Seana Method, helping people achieve freedom through organization.
“My Mother is a very “risk averse” person. I think she had doubts about the risks of starting my own business. Her professional experience was working in a medical office, where she did not assume any of the risk, so her concerns were as much from her lack of understanding as they were from doubts about me or my abilities. While I always listen to my Mother, I didn’t allow her concerns to dissuade me. I think it is important to consider the source when receiving criticism/doubt. If it is coming from an expert who has intimate knowledge of a situation AND a thorough understanding of one’s abilities, then their comments are deserving of attention and consideration. But often our family and friends speak more from the heart than anything else, which is not always helpful.”
Tamara Bowman: Tamara Camera Photography, a lifestyle, portrait and special occasional photographer in Northampton, MA.
“I don’t think so – most people have been very supportive. I’ve had issues with my husband before in self-confidence and feeling psyched out, and there have been times I thought he wasn’t very helpful to my business, but it takes two people to get to that point too. He supports it very much, of course. I just felt like maybe he wasn’t someone I should talk to in my anxious state.”
Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready, Set, Launch! won’t teach you the nuts and bolts of setting up a business, but it will share the traits and skills you need to be successful. If you’re thinking about starting your own business, I’d recommend picking up a copy. I think you’ll find it quite helpful!
Here’s what I’d like to know:
Do you own your own business?
If not, are you thinking about it? What is your biggest fear?
If so, what hurdles have you come up against? Did anyone close to you make you second guess your decisions? How did you get past it?
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