21 Female Entrepreneurs Share Their Surprising Tricks For Getting Ahead At Work

The life of an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It requires the courage to take huge risks and the wisdom to learn from every mistake along the way. But those who’ve forged their own paths will tell you that it can be incredibly rewarding. In partnership with ANN INC., parent company of Ann Taylor, LOFT and Lou & Grey, we bring you 21 tricks for success from the women who learned them the hard way. Brought to you by ANN INC.

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1. “Never ignore your hobbies. The things you do for fun (and for free) are what your heart is telling you to do. My high school science teacher ended up opening a brewery and has never been happier.” – Samantha, 29

2. “Invest in purchasing the URL of your full name (ie. “janesmith.com”). It’s actually pretty inexpensive – WordPress allows you to buy a ‘.com’ for as little as $18.00/year. If your name is taken, try different combinations with your middle name or initials. Then use your site to create a more filled-out version of your resume, featuring anything from a bio to writing samples to design work.”– Mary Ann, 31

3. “Read trade magazines! So many young people tell me they want to work in my industry, but are unfamiliar with the most basic and widely-read publications in the field.” – Helen, 38

4. “Working for free for a while may be necessary, but not in the way that you think. When I was starting out as a web designer, I reached out to my favorite restaurant and offered to create their website, simply because I loved their food and noticed that they didn’t have one. I then created one for a local boutique, and have since gone on to build a full-time business.” – Chloe, 27

5. “If you have a side interest (like photography or writing or even baking), buy an LLC early on. If/when you do get work, it’ll makes it much easier to get paid and pay others.” – Taylor, 56

6. “Follow people in your industry on Twitter. Maybe even Tweet at them!” – Ishani, 29

7. “Each month, pick one person who does work that interests you and ask him or her to coffee. It can feel awkward, especially if you’ve never met, but most people will be flattered that someone thinks they’re interesting.” – Courtney, 32

8. “Understand that even if you think you have no interest in technology, every company is now, to some degree, a tech company. At the very least, pay attention to how your friends use their phones and computers, but also, consider learning basic coding (there are many boot camps that now teach it). It’s just an incredibly valuable tool to add to your skillset.” – Paula, 42

9. “Here’s some unconventional advice: go on at least a few random dates. There is no better preparation for the discomfort of interviews, or selling yourself to investors. Just focus on having a good time and putting your best foot forward, and don’t get too hung up if it doesn’t pan out – it’s all a learning experience.”– Katy, 55

10. “She who never stops working does not not win the race. If the choice is between catching up with coworkers and eating a pitiful salad at your desk, always choose the former. Those coworkers could (and most likely will) be the people who get you an unexpected opportunity down the road.” – Lilly, 28

11. “Have a broad understanding of the landscape you work in, not just the two or three biggest names in the field. You never know what tiny, little-known company could be the next big thing.” – Jordan, 31

12. “Get on LinkedIn, and keep your profile updated as you add new things to your skillset. Also, endorse the people who you’ve had good experiences working with. They may very well return the gesture.” – Michelle, 32

13. “Don’t avoid applying to jobs just because the descriptions seem a little over your head. Employers are reaching – they’re describing their ‘ideal’ candidate, but it doesn’t mean you won’t win them over when they meet you.” – Miyuki, 41

14. “Be up on current events. News of course, but also, a little sports or celebrity gossip never killed anyone. It’s important in any field to be aware of major trends, and it’ll give you something to talk about with strangers.” – Caitlyn, 29

15. “Don’t ever buy into the myth that sleeping less = working more. It doesn’t work like that. “ – Andrea, 46

16. “Identify the ‘dead time’ in your day and make it better. The morning commute could be a time to check email, listen to an interesting podcast, or brainstorm for a project. Personally, I get my best reading done on planes, or the elliptical.” – Jennifer, 31

17. “Don’t rush to make a Kickstarter before you have your business plan down pat. Take the time to get feedback and do thorough research.” – Kamala, 34

18. “No matter how casual your job is, it’s always good to have the following items in your closet: a perfectly fitting button-up shirt, a sweater that’s not too threadbare, a pair of simple dress pants, and some comfortable nice shoes (as in, low heels or flats). They will come in handy, I promise.” – Melissa, 28

19. “We talk a lot about ‘finding a mentor’ but it’s equally important to look for mentees. You can end up learning more from the people who you’re supposedly helping.” – Alexis, 45

20. “Don’t assume that you’re too young to run a business. Tons of people under 30 run businesses nowadays. You will make a lot of mistakes, maybe even full-out fail, but it will be an incredible experience.” – Karen, 27

21. “If there’s one thing I wish for every young woman, it’s the ability to accept criticism despite the bias that still exists against us. We will get it more frequently than our male counterparts, and it will be more personal in nature, but that should not deter us from keeping our heads up. Always, always keep your head up.” – Grace, 61 TC mark

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