I recently had lunch with an amazing woman, Danielle Tate, who totally inspires me. She founded a multi-million dollar company in her 20’s, then went on to write The Elegant Entrepreneur, a book that helps female entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. This dynamic mom also makes time to exercise and have breakfast and dinner with her family. Over a delicious lunch at Eddie V’s in Tyson’s Corner, this elegant entrepreneur told me how she does it all!
MK: Who is Danielle Tate?
DT: I am the founder of a multi-million dollar company - MissNowMrs.com, a best-selling author, spokeswoman for Empowered Women International, passionate advocate for women entrepreneurs, wife, mother of an amazing 7-year-old son, the devoted daughter who always comes home for holidays, the friend who throws lavish holiday parties, and at the end of the day a nice Methodist girl from Pennsylvania who loves living in the Washington, D.C. area.
MK: What inspired the Elegant Entrepreneur?
DT: I was an accidental entrepreneur, so founding a company with zero business education or background in my 20’s was a daunting task. As I became successful, I realized that there are millions of women like me - smart women with business ideas - that could and should start companies. They just need someone to map out the 12 steps from idea to exit, share how it feels to live each step as a woman entrepreneur, and give advice from amazing role models like Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank and Jenny Fleiss of Rent the Runway.
That is exactly what I did with Elegant Entrepreneur: The Female Founder’s Guide to Starting & Growing Your First Company. It is the book I always wished for, and desperately searched for, when I founded my company. I sincerely hope that the women who read it understand the process of building a company, the tremendous freedom that comes with having your own business as a woman, and that they can jump into entrepreneurship with their eyes wide open, armed with a plan for success!
MK: Where do you get this passion to help other entrepreneurs?
DT: My life is full of so much freedom, excitement, and opportunity as a result of being female founder. I want other women to have the chance to experience the same lifestyle and happiness that I have achieved! I’ve always been a “helper,” so it is natural for me to want to help women more women startup and scale up successful businesses! I also believe women entrepreneurs are the key to changing the world for the better. In an IFC study cited by Forbes, women in emerging markets invest 90 percent of their income back into their families and communities, compared with 35 percent for men. Women entrepreneurs are the solution to ending poverty and inhumanity in the world, which is something I am incredibly passionate about.
MK: What are some of the key steps to creating a successful business?
DT: I wrote an entire book on this, but I will boil down the most important early steps: 1) make sure your business idea is a good one, with a large enough market to sell to; 2) understand that market, what it needs, and what it will pay for; 3) map out the plan for how your company will get started, find customers, and generate income; 4) find the right business partner. It is very difficult to be responsible for every facet of a business, so finding a trust-worthy and skilled partner is paramount; and 5) know that you will need to overcome setbacks and competition. Instead of giving up, be creative and use these problems as fuel for business innovation and improvement.
MK: You have a full life as a mommy, entrepreneur and dabble in other projects. How do you manage your life?
DT: Each day I prioritize the #1 thing I can do for my family and my business. I do those two things first to ensure that I feel successful about my day. It takes a great deal of mental discipline to not answer email or calls before I finish those tasks, but it works! I also commit to being “all there,” wherever I am. If I am with my family, I am focused on them and not worrying about work or other things. Conversely, if I am at a tradeshow or speaking event, I am “all there” and devoted to helping the women I am working with.
One of the benefits of juggling so many projects that I love, is that ideas and connections from one tend to spark inspiration for others. For example, speaking about entrepreneurship for a large women’s group has led to scholarships for Empowered Women International, a non-profit that uses business education to give economic independence to immigrant, refugee, and at-risk women in my area. There is a great deal of synergy in what I do, and that keeps me ever-energized and excited about what might happen next!
MK: You always look flawless. What are some of your go to lifestyle tips/products?
DT: A combination of French and Southern heritage has instilled the value of looking polished. Spending then minutes in the morning applying makeup makes me feel beautiful and powerful. I never know who I will meet or the opportunities that could unexpectedly unfold, like the time NBC news came to my office with 20 minutes notice, so I always try to be prepared. With fashion, tailored dresses in solid colors are my go to. All I need to add are heels and jewelry and I’m set for the day! As far as beauty products go, I am a big fan of Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat highlighter. By camouflaging dark circles and imperfections, it intantly makes you look like you had 12 hours of sleep. I also love red lipstick, it shows that a woman is confident and means business. Chanel Rouge Allure is a personal favorite.
MK: What is a day in the life like?
DT: At 6:00am I’m doing a Megaformer workout, which is “me time,” and the early time slot ensures that it happens, no matter how busy my day becomes. At 7:30am I make breakfast and we all eat together as a family. By 8:15 we’re all out the door! I work until 3:30pm and then pick up my son from school, which is one of my favorite moments because he shares all about his day; 5:30pm is dinner time, and yes, our entire family sits down to eat together. Then it’s on to homework, projects, and getting ready for the next day. At 7:30pm my son goes to bed and I go back to work. I love that I can have a successful business and prioritize time with my family. By 10:30pm I’m taking a bath (one of my favorite luxuries) and headed to bed. I always take time to reflect upon my blessings before going to sleep. This practice of gratefulness helps me start the next day in a positive state of mind.
MK: What are some of the challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
DT: One of my biggest challenges with MissNowMrs, was copy-cat competitors. Call me naive, but I couldn’t believe that individuals would steal my intellectual property and create similar companies. I made the decision to defend my company in court several times. The most difficult moment was testifying in federal court while eight months pregnant. I was terrified that the stress would hurt my baby, and also scared that I could lose the baby that was the company I has spent years building. My perseverance and bravery paid off, as the courts ruled in my favor and forced my competitors to shut down. I was then able to build my brand and secure strategic industry partnerships to the point where competitors were less of a threat.
Another more recent challenge was writing Elegant Entrepreneur. Who was I to write a business book? I’ve never taken a business class, much less attained an MBA. I had to get over myself, and recognize the need for my voice and perspective as an accidental woman entrepreneur. Once I realized the book wasn’t about me, but about helping women, I was able to pour all of my wisdom, successes, failures, and advice into a guide for aspiring female founders.
MK: What’s in the future for you?
DT: I am enjoying living limitlessly! Speaking engagements allow me to travel to different cities and empower the next round of women entrepreneurs, which is such a fantastic feeling. I am also creating a workbook and curriculum to go along with Elegant Entrepreneur.
On the author front, I just finished an entrepreneurship book for children, and am beginning to outline another book around women and failure. It’s almost an “F word” for us, but failure is opportunity in disguise when you change your viewpoint. I cannot wait to see what will unfold in the next few years!
MK: How do you “live bliss”?
DT: I “live bliss” by helping women discover the joys of entrepreneurship and demolishing the barriers of fear. I visualize Elegant Entrepreneur as a stone being thrown into a lake. It’s a small thing, but the tiny ripples it makes expand ever outward. If even one woman who has an idea listens to my book and decides to start a company, I have succeeded in my goal. If that woman hires one employee (most likely another woman) the ripple enlarges. If those women’s daughters see the benefits of the business their moms are involved with another generation of entrepreneurs will follow, and the ripple widens further. In my perfect world that same scenario would happen with thousands upon thousands of women and the world would be a better place.
I love it! Pick up Danielle’s book and until next time, “live bliss”!