For many women, entrepreneurship is a journey that often feels like a roller coaster ride. One day you get some good news on a partnership you were looking to close, and the next day might feel like things are falling apart.
This feeling is not out of the ordinary. In fact, for many entrepreneurs this feeling is all too familiar, and introduces an entirely different universe of highs and lows to which our 9-5er counterparts can’t ever relate.
So while you’re on this roller coaster ride, it’s important to not let all these emotions steer you in different directions and take away your focus on what’s really important. The key to every journey we encounter, and every experience we go through is balance.
Balancing out priorities, goals, tasks, between business, personal, family, and life can be a very challenging act for many women founders. For this year, I’m working on sharing some of the strategies that have worked for myself over the past 4 years. There is no one answer, and it’s often a work in progress. More importantly, one has to trust in the process, be patient, especially when you land on something that works for you.
Here are some of the things I’ll be focusing on and discussing in detail this year:
- Mentorship We often talk about mentorship, and the importance of finding a mentor, but the reality for a lot of Black, Indigenous, and women of colour good mentors in entrepreneurship and innovation are not easy to find. Which is why it’s also important that when you do find someone who truly has your best interest at heart, you need to hang on to them and strengthen your relationship with them. They will be a strong advocate for you as you grow your business. Whose advice you should listen to, who’s should be a mentor for you? What are some of the expectations you should have from a mentor-mentee relationship? How to break off a bad mentorship relationship? So many questions, and I’ve gone through all of them. If I don’t share my experience and how I navigated all of this, I’ll be doing a disservice to women who were in the same position as myself.
- Self-Advocacy One of the things I’m always learning as an entrepreneur is to advocate for myself, and the best thing for my organization. Advocating for yourself is something that doesn’t come natural to many of us, especially for women founders. Self-advocacy is rarely discussed, especially in the context of women in business. Why do we need to advocate for ourselves? what are some of the strategies should we adopt that works for us? What are we comfortable with saying to partners and stakeholders? Self-advocacy has a lot to with building our confidence and self-esteem to be able to speak up when things aren’t working out the way they need to. I have a duty for my organization to advocate on my community’s behalf. If I don’t do that, no one else will. You can be kind and strong, and you also have to fair to yourself.
- Seeking Validation from Others I often hear from women founders that they’re constantly worried about what people think of them, online and offline. This is normal. Our actions are often dictated by societal norms and expectations. We’re wired to think about what people think about our decisions and actions. While this is a necessary step for us to reflect on how our actions and words often have an impact on those around us, it’s important to be able to differentiate when one should consider other people’s opinions, and when we should make the right choice for us and our organization not hindered by what others may think of it. It’s a tough balancing act, and I think discussing these concepts and areas can support women to balance out their entrepreneurial journey, especially early on.
- Business Success and / or Failure Does not Define You For many women we tend to confuse customer traction and customer validation as validation of ourselves. These two need to be separated. Just because something in the business is not working, does not mean that you’re not good enough. It means that you have to change things, be adaptable, open to learning, but it doesn’t mean that you are not good enough. There are some strategies that women founders can adopt to make sure that these two ideas are separated. Your business does not define you.
- Some Juicy Details I’d like to be brave and share more on this year: How to form a board of directors. How to reject a partnership. What do you say to a problematic email? How do you ensure your voice is being heard at a table full of white (mostly men)?
This was a post to introduce some of the few things I’d like to cover and share on my blog this year. They will be accounts from my personal experience, and represent myself and the choices I made building my organization.
My goal is to start the dialogue around these issues, and others that are important for women as they’re starting a business and getting into a space that’s often not inclusive and full of barriers and challenges to overcome.
When we speak up and challenge the status quo in business, entrepreneurship and the innovation industry, we won’t be dealing in isolation. When we share our stories and experiences, especially as BIPOC and women founders, we create a supportive network, where women’s voices and heard, amplified, and we in turn dismantle the culture of silence, which helps to pave way and empower more young women to pave the way.
I’d also like to invite you to the dialogue: Are you a woman founder struggling with some of these areas? Do you have any questions that you’d like to inquire about and get support on how to navigate? Feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, your query will remain anonymous, and I’ll try my best to support.