It’s easy to forget that everyone once started out as a beginner. By the time these so-called “overnight sensations” are on our radar they’ve been through more blood, sweat and tears than the majority of us will endure in a lifetime. They get up when they’re knocked down again and again and keep going long after others have thrown in the towel.
Last year I launched the podcast BroadCast: Broads Building Businesses to connect with today’s most inspiring entrepreneurial thought leaders, taste makers and trendsetters and invite them to share their journey from start up to exit strategy and everything in between. My motive was to understand what made them tick, learn how they dealt with challenges and mishaps and gain an understanding of what it takes to go from idea to getting started to being at the top of their game.
There are tales of struggle ranging from addictions to disorders to near death experiences, to both financial and emotional bankruptcy, to experiencing betrayal, hardship, rejection, and adversity. Through it all these women survived and flourished as both individuals and creators.
Here are the top ten takeaways I learned from my year of talking to these extraordinary women.
Tip 1: Quitting is for Quitters
There are going to be times when it might seem easier to call it quits but the only time you truly fail is when you give up.
Kathleen King, the Founder of Tate’s Bake Shop began baking chocolate chip cookies as a young girl on her family’s farm to pay for her own clothing. Soon people were foregoing traditional staples to buy her cookies. She continued selling her cookies throughout high school and college. Eventually through hard work and a bit of good fortune, she was able to move into a building with a commercial kitchen and launch a successful line of baked goods. Later on she partnered with two people and suddenly she was embroiled in a web of lies and deceit that led to her losing her money, her business and to add insult to injury she wasn’t even able to continue to use her own name for business purposes yet she would not give up. With the town’s support and unwavering resilience, she fought to pursue her dreams by reinventing herself and launching a new company called Tate’s Bake Shop. She’s come along way from the farm-town girl selling cookies from a stand and last year she sold Tate’s for a reported $100 million.
Sarah Kaler seemed to have it all. She climbed to the top of the corporate ladder with a dream job working for a billion dollar brand. She had also just given birth to a son.
Suddenly, she began to suffer from a series of grand mal seizures caused by stress. As she was carried away on a gurney while her newborn watched from the sidelines, Sarah knew she had to make major lifestyle changes while she still had the chance. Instead of giving up, she pivoted.
Today Sarah makes her health and her family her number one priority and runs her own executive leadership coaching business working with other women leaders to build purpose-driven companies.
Be resilient, don’t give up when the going gets tough. Try course correcting or pivoting instead of calling it quits.
Tip #2: Be Scrappy:
Get scrappy and start using the resources already around you. Not everything worthwhile has a high price tag attached. There are tons of free courses, webinars, tutorials and podcasts to help you get to where you want to be.
Kimra Luna was married with two small children, living on government assistance, going stir crazy at home when she convinced her husband to invest their entire tax refund on an computer and Wi-Fi. She signed up for free online course and listened to podcasts around the clock. In one year she went from welfare to millionaire by teaching people how to engage customers online through the lessons she learned—for free!
Being scrappy has made Kimra a millionaire. What could it do for you?
Tip #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Disrupt The Status Quo
The majority of us look for ways to fit in rather than stand out but then again we’re not Miki Agrawal. This serial entrepreneur’s latest invention has disrupted the entire feminine hygiene industry with Thinx, the revolutionary underwear for women that replaces the need for tampons, pads or cups.
What product or service do you offer that could disrupt an industry?
Tip #4: Find a Hole in the Marketplace and Fill It
So many women I interviewed got their start this way. They saw a gap in the marketplace and took it upon themselves to fill it.
Basha Rubin, Co-Founder of Priori Legal was still in law school when she noticed there was pro-bono lawyers and white-collar lawyers yet nothing in between. While still a student, she launched her business offering vetted lawyers on demand for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Bernadette Smith launched the countries first boutique event planning agency for LGBT couples taking the first step in creating a wedding industry standard inclusive to all couples. She now trains event coordinators around the world to do the same.
Joanne Barken grew tired of attending stereotypical bachelorettes parties and created The Bach, an event planning service catering to brides who want to mark their last days as a single woman with a little more sophistication.
What gap can you fill?
Tip #5: Age is Just a Number
Susan O’Malley was single, six months pregnant and a college dropout when she decided she wanted to go to medical school. After earning a college diploma, she was promptly rejected from every single medical school in the entire country. She reapplied, got into a top school and entered med school at the age of 35. Today Dr. Susan O’Malley runs her own medical spa, published the book “Tough Cookies Don’t Crumble” chronicling her personal journey and serves a motivational speaker.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lyla Black was three years old when with reated a stuffed monster as a gift for her father’s birthday. Two years later Lyla’s gift inspired her family to begin selling these creations. Today they can be found at a variety of toy stores around the country and have been featured on TheGrommet.com
Tip #6: Ditch the Mantra, Pick A Word
You’ve made resolutions, memorized an affirmation, created a mantra, maybe even selected a theme song but let’s simplify it. Pick one single word to guide your energy throughout the year.
Guesterly Founder, Rachel Hoftstetter chooses a word of the year as a source of inspiration. In 2015 she picked “Hustle” and did she ever! Hofstetter’s self-funded start-up was acquired by Chatbooks.
What word will you pick to guide you and keep you on track?
Tip #7: Give Back
The most successful people know that giving back in all forms allows us to grow while helping others. Whether is a monetary contribution, pro bono services or simply lending an ear to someone in need, giving is an integral part of growing personally and professionally.
Savor the Success Founder Angela Jia Kim tells the entrepreneurs in her community to “Give, Give, Get”!
Rachel Goldstein the event marketing powerhouse behind Agent of Change prefers to work on purpose-driven events and campaigns where she can make a difference in people’s lives through her work. In five short years she’s produced nearly $50 million for select charities.
Start thinking of ways you can give back. Whether it’s making a referral or writing a recommendation unsolicited or simply clipping a newspaper article of interest for a client or colleague and letting them know they were on your mind. Just remember the most authentic giving is that which does not come with the expectation of receiving.
Tip #8 Create Something You Want to Use
What product or service do you wish existed? Ever thought of creating it instead of waiting for someone else to only to say “Hey that was my idea”!
That’s how precisely why I formed my business Running With Heels in 2012. After attending cringe-worthy networking events, I decided that traditional networking was awkward and uncomfortable so I created a series of intimate invitation-only events where businesswomen come together with a focus on building relationships first.
Mother of twin baby girls, Jen Groover was at the check out line in the grocery store rummaging through her pocketbook to pay the cashier when she had her eureka moment. What if there was a compartmentalized handbag to make it easier to find things in your purse? With no background in manufacturing or luxury goods, she went home, took the silverware caddy out of the dishwasher, stuck it n her handbag and made her first prototype. Some people said it wouldn’t sell but not everyone agreed. Avon certainly didn’t when the scooped up rights and began producing the world’s first compartmentalized handbag known as the Butler Bag.
Tip # 9 Surround Yourself with Raving Fans
Whether it’s friends or family, everyone needs their own group of cheerleaders.
Beauty and Lifestyle Expert Nitika Chopra calls them her “Love Entourage” and Jenn Scalia calls them “Badasses” but whatever you call your tribe, make sure you have one.
Tip #10 View Self-Care as an Investment not an Indulgence
Rather than thinking of that yoga class or facial as an indulgence start thinking of it as an investment in your best asset, YOU!
All of the women I feature on the program make self-care a priority in their lives now.
Meditation was the most common practice amongst them however other activities included journaling, tapping, running and cooking nutritious meals.
What can you do to take care of yourself?
For more ways you can learn how to thrive rather than simply survive, I invite you to subscribe to BroadCast: Broads Building Businesses (http://apple.co/29AJ5gB) and find out how you can build up your business from some of the best most wildly successful entrepreneurs.