During the past few weeks, as part of the 2016 Women in Wellness Career Summit, I invited 24 amazing women from all walks of wellness -- from Bestselling authors to Celebrity coaches -- to engage in frank conversations about exactly how they got started, overcame obstacles, found success and built thriving businesses that are not only impactful but also really lucrative. And the conversations were remarkable -- I had never had conversations like that in my life. We talked about money, we talked about business, we talked about sales and marketing and what it means to be successful. And what I found was that women -- especially women in wellness- have a very different perspective about entrepreneurship than the mainstream perceptions.
Here's what I learned:
1. Entrepreneurship isn't just about business. It's about self-actualization. One of the women that I spoke to, who has made millions selling online spirituality courses, shared her belief that women cannot fully actualize unless they become entrepreneurs. That in order to reach our full-potential, to find the highest and deepest meaning in life, we have to be leaders. We have to leave our comfort zones, and our corporate jobs, and follow our soul's calling wherever it may lead.
2. Entrepreneurship isn't just about making money. It's about creating the 'self.' The act of self-creation is an ongoing creative process that we engage in from birth to death. Entrepreneurship is both a catalyst and a vehicle for us to create our identity, our character, our confidence, our autonomy. Entrepreneurship gives us the opportunity to say: "You don't define me. I define myself." Which is an act of revolution for many women who engage in this radical life-path. It's empowering and life-changing
3. Entrepreneurship isn't just about the products. It's about the relationships. For the longest time, I thought business was built on 'stuff.' Stuff you buy. Stuff you throw away. It's so much more than that. People make stuff and people buy stuff. Women create things to solve problems for other women - especially in the wellness industry. The most prosperity comes when we solve the biggest problems- even if it's something as silly as a pair of panties that make our tummy look flatter. Spanx is no joke - it's a billion dollar company.
4. Entrepreneurship isn't just about being clever. It's about being authentic. I know that it is only when I am in touch with the real me that I am able to truly be my creative best and expand my thinking and views of the world. This is the birth-place of innovation. All the women that I spoke to said that their best work, their most successful ideas - all of it came when they "got real" about who they were, and what they wanted - and their branding and their products reflect that. Our "Unique value contribution" comes from authenticity -- and women are on the leading edge of this movement.
5. Entrepreneurship isn't just about work, work, work. It's about life. Work-life balance isn't about getting a 15-min chair massage at the office or getting drunk at happy hour. It's about the freedom to have self-care time, family time, creativity time, etc. when we need it. It's about having non-toxic products to care for our children. It's about having gardens in urban communities. It's about the blurry lines between doing what we love for work and working for what we love. I don't' even know how I would survive at this point if I had a boss who told me I couldn't go on a 10-day silent meditation retreat because I had to be in my cubicle doing my "work." Women entrepreneurs are re-defining what it means to make a living from living your passion - and the world is changing direction because of it.
6. Entrepreneurship isn't just about solopreneurs or the lone genius. It's about sisterhood. Above all, what I heard more than anything else, was: the importance of support. Which is ironic, because this is also the thing that I stood out most from my dissertation research 10 years ago. We are not in this alone - not in business, not in life, not in entrepreneurship. We are all in it together. Our decisions effect people - they effect the environment -- they affect the future -- and it's naïve and irresponsible to pretend that they don't. Women form communities. They form sisterhood. They uplift and empower each other to do the impossible. I believe that this is going to be one of the defining of themes of business in the next century.
There's still time to learn from the two dozen experts that I spoke with as part of my 2016 Women in Wellness Career Summit. Check it out!