What do women in business really think the challenges are?

Office Genie, providers of an office search engine that allows small businesses, startups and freelancers to search for and compare office space for rent, have approached women in business all across the world to share their advice and insights for other women looking to start or grow their existing business.

Rita Sheth is the owner and founder themanysides.com, an online retail shop that was launched to to encourage women to express themselves through fashion. The Many Sides features an eclectic mix of edgy, indie and global contemporary designer fashion. Rita curates fashion-forward pieces from emerging designers from around the world and features them in her shop and on her blog.

Below Rita discusses the creation of her business:

What made you decide to start your own business?
I think I have always had an entrepreneurial bent and always wanted to start a business at some point in my life. On my 29th birthday I wrote myself a bucket list of all the things I wanted to achieve and I later realized that being an entrepreneur, creating my own business and growing it, was probably the most fundamental thing on my list and which would lead to all the other elements I wanted from my life – freedom, creativity, contribution. In a nutshell when it actually happened it was very spontaneous and quick – I went shopping, had an idea, texted a friend that I was going to start this business, he said awesome, and then I just started it that week!

Did you experience any difficulties when setting up your business?
Yes! There are lots of challenges but at no point did I find that it was prohibitive – it just means you have to be braver or think creatively sometimes. The most obvious obstacle I faced was probably the fact that I knew nothing about the industry and had to get to grips with fashion jargon and those insider customs that exist in every industry. I think this kind of thing puts people off but you are always a outsider when you start out and you just have to realise that you will look, act, sound stupid in the beginning but you will learn fast.

What is your favourite thing about running a business?
I think that would have to be the fact that you can be exponentially creative and every idea is something you can try and test out no matter how crazy. There is literally no one to stop you from going in any direction you want and the sky is the limit that is something you don’t always get in a employed position. I get to make all the creative decisions about buying, branding and my message that I find incredibly satisfying.

What advice do you have for women who want to grow their business?
I would say that the most important thing is to just get out there and network with people in the industry whether this is online, via social media or in person. People are surprisingly helpful and its very strange that the right person can find you at the right time to help in various ways whether that is finding mentoring, advice, funding etc. I do think that having a mentor is a great help and its awesome to have someone to chat through your ideas and give you a steer that is objective and not involved in the day to day of your business. I also think that you should allow yourself to be fearless, brave and to take every idea seriously because you never know which one is going to work.

What is the one piece of business advice that every business, no matter the size, needs to remember?
I would say that the most important advice I can give is to act with integrity and respect others. Its very cheesy but even if you go away from a meeting or negotiation not having achieved what you want if you approach things with class, respect and integrity then you will make a positive impression in peoples minds and they are more likely to think of you again if an opportunity comes up to work together in future. It’s a small world and you do not want to be known as the person that asked for a ridiculously cheeky freebie or didn’t pay their invoice. Basically its a co-dependent world – you can’t just take, you have to think about others too.

If you move from the realm of retail to money and business management, you’ll see s similar picture, with a number of female entrepreneurs making waves. Barbara Turley, an expert in women and money management, has started her own business (energisewealth.com) in Australia from the ground up. Barbara offers money and business management insights in Australia and is looking to expand her reach to the UK, EU, and the US.

Below Barbara provides us insights on how to grow and develop your business:

What made you decide to start your own business?
Honestly I became quite bored and jaded with the 9-5 monotony of the corporate world. I had a burning desire inside to be a leader and to create something of my own so that fuelled my desire to launch my own company and really go for it. Over the years I spotted a need for a different approach to wealth, especially for women. Advice is important but a lot of people need education and confidence before they go for advice so they don’t get led down the wrong financial path. All of those factors together led to the creation of Energise Wealth – a global online platform dedicated to creating really savvy women.

Did you experience any difficulties when setting up your business?
Yes! Setting up your own business is a daunting task full of overwhelming emotions. It’s like a roller coaster that can take you over pretty quickly. The key to getting through this is to focus heavily on strategy and not get carried away with ‘shiny object syndrome’ and ‘busy’ work.

What is your favourite thing about running a business?
I love the dynamic nature of it and that sense of continual creation. Every day you go out and create. It’s a constantly evolving process that appeals to my personality a lot. I am someone who gets bored easily so running my own business gives me plenty of ways to stay interested!

What advice do you have for women who want to grow their business?
If you truly want to grow your business then you need to focus on strategic thinking and foundation building. The only way a business can grow is if you have a solid foundation in place that can then support growth. Time and time again I see business owners trying to build on very shaky foundations and ending up burnt out and exhausted. Usually they do not have the right strategy, systems, processes and automation in place to support healthy and enjoyable growth. The result is they end up chasing their tails, constantly putting out fires and being dragged from pillar to post. Build your solid foundation first and then look to leverage and scale it for maximum impact.

What is the one piece of business advice that every business, no matter the size, needs to remember?
No matter what business you are in – you are in the business of marketing and sales! The only thing that actually matters is how you are going to feed the need or desire of you ideal client or customer – as defined by them! Not as defined by you. Ask them, listen to them and then build products and services that will delight them based on what they want and have told you is important to THEM. If you do that then your products and services will sell themselves.

Finally, we have advice from Helen Moulinos. Helen started the creative business space1a.com in London with her husband 3 years ago. Helen and her husband produce British-made sustainable home and interior accessories, and business has been going from strength to strength.

Helen shares the secret to her business success below:

What made you decide to start your own business?
I started my own business for two reasons – the first was in response to a lack of British-made quirky home accessories. The second reason was that after many years of working in an office job I felt I had my future options were not necessarily personally challenging or fulfilling. Starting my own business addressed gaps in both my consumer buying habits and work life too.

Did you experience any difficulties when setting up your business?
Yes – many challenges. I experienced quite a bit of self-doubt and also found it difficult sometimes to take the leap of faith needed to push forward and conceptualise a growing thriving business. When you first start out and you create a product, you assume sales will just appear. A great lesson for me early on was that business needed patience, perseverance, learning and careful planning.

What is your favourite thing about running a business?
I really enjoy receiving letters from customers and hearing about how our products find their way to different parts of the world and what place in someone’s life they take on from there. Meeting suppliers here in Britain and also developing new products also top that list.

What advice do you have for women who want to grow their business?
Know your own mind. Everyone will have a point of view on your business, you need to research and identify your own options. Sometimes the right path and choices are unpopular and less chosen. It’s important to canvas and listen to other business owner’s experiences, but remember that just because it worked for their business it doesn’t always translate to yours.

What is the one piece of business advice that every business, no matter the size, needs to remember?
Cash flow management is one of the most important disciplines within our business. Keep an eye on spending and growth within the context of the size of your business. I would also add that creating a network of entrepreneurs you trust is really important as the work can be isolating. Having a group of friends who choose to live a similar life to you is very important for moral support and for discussing tricky problems.

Although these insights are aimed at other woman who are looking to start or grow their existing business, these are learnings that can be utilised by any small business or startup.

  Share:

Leave a Reply

*