What do women entrepreneurs on three continents think about?
Over the last year, since my book Million Dollar Women was first published in the hardcover edition in October 2015, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with thousands of female entrepreneurs and business students in the U.S., the U.K. and in Australia who want to start, grow, or scale up a high-revenue generating businesses. These are the women who have businesses that make products, solve problems, and provide valuable services. They are brave, funny, and fabulous. They are the future #MillionDollarWomen and you can see many of them here in my Million Dollar Women Photo Gallery:
The founders I met on three continents all had in common their relentless drive, their passion for their businesses, and the courage to do what most people only dream about from their cubicles. They are on track to be the owners of the next SoulCycle, Care.com, Spanx, and Birch Box. I asked what keeps them up at night and heard the same answers everywhere:
- How do I hire A-team players on a startup budget?
- How do I know if I am ready to raise capital?
- How and where do I find investors?
- If I scale up my company will I lose control or destroy my great company culture?
- How do I stop doing everything and hand off more?
Back when I was trying to get my business, Little Pim, into the seven figures in revenues, I so wished I could sit down with women who were just ahead of where I was and ask for advice, but I didn’t know any. In the media, I read the same few female success stories of Sarah Blakely, Arianna Huffington, and Tory Burch. All of my mentors were men, and they were fantastic, but it’s simply not the same for men and women growing a business—whether it’s going after capital, balancing work and family, or how you are perceived as a leader and a boss. It’s been incredibly gratifying to be able to mentor women who are starting “the climb” and be one of the increasing number of women entrepreneurs who dedicate a portion of their time to giving back (shout out to Jennifer Hyman & Jennifer Fleiss, Daniella Koren, Tory Burch, Heather Hiles, Julie Subotsky, Jessica Herrin, Carrie Kerpen, the women featured in my book, and so many others).
If you have been reading my blog, you know I am obsessed with the number THREE. This is because just THREE PERCENT of all women entrepreneurs make it to $1M in revenues, which is considered just getting off “go” in the business world. That number is too darn small (it’s 6 percent of male owned businesses). I want to see one million more women get to $1M by 2020, which would change that three percent number to 13 percent. Just imagine all the jobs we will create, the families that will benefit from women making bank, the flexible jobs for working mothers (many of us are working mothers ourselves), and the additional $2 trillion that we will add to the U.S. economy.
So how hard is it to get to $1M in revenues? In researching Million Dollar Women, I interviewed successful women entrepreneurs across the country and profiled seven of them in the book (see below). We all agreed there are just THREE things we need to master to go big: the right mindset, the right skill set, and cultivating the right network.
Here are some quick tips if you are on the climb right now, and links to prior blogs with easy to implement ideas and free resources.
1. Cultivating a success mindset
When I asked rooms of hundreds of women on three continents which of the three things that you need to master they thought was the hardest (mindset, skill set, network), hands all went up for mindset. If you can master your mindset, then you can go get the skills and join the networks. But mindset is where it all starts. You may have heard this before, but it bears repeating (and downloading onto your desktop) “You can only grow your business as big as you grow yourself.”
For women looking to go big, it’s often not a question of competence, but confidence. Most of us are domain experts and high achievers, but we also have limiting beliefs, which are insidious thoughts about our own self-worth that hamper our ability to reach the next level in business and in life. It’s not that we can’t overcome mindset challenges, but we often don’t know how or with whom to do it. I think these limiting beliefs are one of the “elephants in the room” for women entrepreneurs, and the more we expose the elephant, the smaller it gets.
If you have a voice inside your head saying things like “Can I really do this?” or “I’m not smart/savvy/business minded enough” (I know I did!), I encourage you to check out some of my blogs on mastering your mindset:
- Discover the five most common limiting beliefs women entrepreneurs struggle with.
- Struggle with negative self talk? Find out why and what you can do to change it here.
- Want to make simple mindset changes that have big impact? Check out how successful entrepreneurs cultivate a “water around rocks” mindset.
2. Find your flying buttresses
This is a Jim Rohn quote I love and that changed my business forever:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
When I first took a hard look at who my five were, I realized I needed to change up my social circle if I wanted to grow as a business person. I joined the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Accelerator program, and that did the trick. I wrote about this extensively in Million Dollar Women, because there I got access to an incredible community of entrepreneurs who were just ahead of where I was business-wise, to powerful mentors, and to chances to hear from some of the top CEOs in the country. Within a year I broke that million dollar mark and kept going. One of my greatest motivations for writing Million Dollar Women, this blog, and creating my Masterclass online business school is to bring more high growth-minded women entrepreneurs together so we can learn from and support one another and go “further, faster.”
Here are some places to expand your network and get inspiration to play bigger:
- How to Network When You Don’t Know Where to Start – break out of your comfort zone and go meet people who will become your champions and investors.
- A Guide to Intentional Networking – highlights the difference between being social and actually networking. Packed with useful tips on how to decide what events to attend and the opportunities to look for while you’re there.
- The Million Dollar Women community. We have an upcoming Million Dollar Women Summit for women with businesses making between $100k and $999K taking place in NYC in March and Masterclass will be offered again soon.
And of course, you can grab a copy of Million Dollar Women for yourself or a female founder you know – it is out in paperback as of October 18th and can be found at Barnes & Nobles or on Amazon.com. Female founders can read the book together and use it as a springboard to help each other master mindset, skill set and network, as well as doing the exercises in the back of the book together.
This is the book I wish I’d had when I was scaling up my own business, and features inspiring stories of women who overcame mindset issues, developed powerful networks, and built multi-million dollar businesses from scratch!
3. Turn your moxie into money
Many women shy away from fundraising because it seems intimidating or inaccessible to them. The first issue can be resolved with a change in mindset. Instead of thinking of it like this big scary thing you have to do, think of it like learning to dance: a little awkward and uncomfortable at first, maybe you’ll stumble, but ultimately something that you want and can do.
The second issue is access – and a lot of us get stuck here. How do we know if we’re ready to raise capital? Who do we ask? When do we ask? How do we ask? How do we get to yes faster and more often?
- Learn the fundraising dance in this blog, which highlights the main vehicles for finding capital.
- Looking for investors or an accelerator? Dive into this list of funding resources and accelerators for women.
- Want your first big YES? Find out how to ask for investment (or just about anything else)
- Getting from pitch to check: How to be a better closer
There has never been a better time for women entrepreneurs to take their businesses big. We have unprecedented opportunities to raise capital and run businesses that work for us—opportunities that women like my great-grandmother, Ada Goldwater, who ran a cigarette and candy store on Broadway in the early 1900s, could only have dreamed of!
I am excited to keep teaching, speaking, learning, laughing and making history with all the current and future Million Dollar Women and the thousands of awesome men who are cheering us on.
Thanks for being in our community!
P.S. THE event of 2017 for women entrepreneurs is coming up soon! Check out the Million Dollar Women Summit event page and join us for this amazing two-day conference for 1:1 coaching, a pitch competition and the incredible networking of 150 high growth female founders.