This is not about how to #girlboss your business and make it big. Because I don’t know how. I am a female entrepreneur feeling her way through the startup world. My business partner and I started a menswear site a little over a year ago. Are we a success? Not yet. Has it been worth it? Hell yes. These are the things I’ve learned that have made this experience rich regardless of how much we make.
1. You Level Up
Starting a business means you are always networking to find people who benefit your company and vice versa. You want only the best representing and working with you. As a result, you begin spending massive amounts of time with people who are at the top of their professional game… because let’s face it; they have a skill your company needs. Something you’re not good at. By surrounding yourself with intelligence and talent, you’re constantly rising to their level in order to communicate. As a result, you learn more and begin operating at a higher level yourself.
2. It’s Lonely
They say, “it’s lonely at the top.” Well the climb there is too. Girls’ night turns into late night meetings. Typically women need more emotional connection, so I think this aspect of being an entrepreneur is especially difficult for us. By spending more time on my professional life, I’ve neglected my personal life and now I see a therapist regularly just so I have someone to talk to. Yes, I have a wonderful team that I communicate with daily, but the relationship there is different than a friendship or romantic partnership. The sooner I let go of needing to “have it all” and accepted that I needed help, the better off I was.
3. Sexism Is Alive And Well
If you talked to me a year ago about sexual discrimination in the workplace, I’d say you were overly sensitive and “looking to be offended.” What I didn’t realize is that prior to starting a business, I’d been in either client-service or supervisor-subordinate relationships. Now being in a position of power, I see how many men are uncomfortable with that idea. It’s not all men. Truthfully, it’s about 30%. You may not know to call it “sexism”, but you will know it when it happens.*
*To be clear, the guys that we feature and work with are not in the 70%. This goes back to my first point about leveling up. If you’re collaborating with gender stereotypes instead of talent, you’re not collaborating well.
4. Women Are FIERCE
At the executive level, it’s still predominately a man’s world. But I can tell you firsthand that women are ON FIRE and not far behind. There is nothing in this article about the surprising amount of “hard work” being an entrepreneur is. Because women know that, and are willing to work double hard to get there. We’ve thought of EVERYTHING and know what we are up against because that’s how our multi-tasking, self-judgey brains work. Generally, women are also better listeners, more emotional, and more responsive. The best of us know to use these qualities to our advantage.
5. Your Idea Is Worthless
I often see a contemporary art piece and think “I could do that.” The only response to that is “yeah but you didn’t.” Starting a business is a lot like that. The world is full of clever people with amazing ideas. But most of them don’t have the tenacity to start, fail repeatedly, learn, and start again. I thought once about walking away from this whole thing. Objectively, the pros of quitting outweighed the cons. More “me” time, vacations, sleep. I have a full time job. I don’t need this. But I immediately felt bad about it. Not bad for my partner and the time and money we’d invested. But bad inside my soul. It’s about endurance, and at this point in the game I’m betting on woman’s intuition and playing to win.