Tag: Women Entrepreneurs

Business

Why ‘Intuitive Entrepreneurship’ is Crucial

Lately the phrase “intuitive entrepreneurship” has been popping into my head.  Perhaps these are buzzwords which are being used more often. Or perhaps, the need to employ this way of thinking is more crucial than it has been before. Letting go of old paradigms is really hard, but I guess it’s much harder when you find yourself left behind because you were afraid of change and taking a risk.

“Entrepreneurs are different. They have the ability to deal with uncertainty, to take risks and tolerate ambiguity. They usually have a personality that is mercurial, and they have highs that are really high and lows that are really low. There’s good evidence that they have strong self-confidence but also tend to be overoptimistic. They rely extensively on their own intuition.”  -James V. Koch
Old Dominion University

As natural-born entrepreneurs, we are kind of wired to take risks and be rebellious.  We learn really early in life what interests us and what doesn’t.  This is probably why I sucked so much in school.  I never understood the point.  I was incredibly bored. I saw myself, my life and my future in a space that had nothing to do with anything going on in those classrooms.  Life was more interesting, more intelligent and grander than the education I was getting there. I couldn’t wait to get out of school to actually create my life the way I saw it. 

I think this is one trait of an entrepreneur that really stands out. If you are a natural born entrepreneur, you probably know you are a bit of a stubborn individual. You live in a bubble of your own ideas, often times feeling like you speak a different language than others.  You are totally driven and would rather stay up all night planning and doing research than sleeping.  And for anyone who tries to sway you from your vision, your hustle and gut instincts -well, that’s all but impossible.

I have been exercising my intuition and trend forecasting skills for a long time now. So the methods and skills I use are pretty natural to me.  My career as a fashion designer has meant that using intuition, and awareness with research is vital to creating collections or pieces that are relevant. I was told in my career that, “If it didn’t scare me, I wasn’t thinking big enough”. A design manager at a company I worked for wanted us to “make him a little uncomfortable” with our designs.  So taking risks has been a huge part of my life in my career and in my own entrepreneurship.  And I embrace it wholeheartedly.

What exactly does it mean to be an intuitive entrepreneur? Sometimes it means taking a little time to think over and research an idea, and sometimes it means moving rapidly on an idea that sparks almost out of nowhere.  With so much information being served to us on a daily basis, sometimes all we have is our intuition to go on. Taking your time on an idea just for the sake of pragmatism isn’t the wisest choice, even if it sounds wise to everyone else.  If you feel deep in your gut that an idea is a hot one, I encourage you to go for it.  This, in my opinion, is the purest form of intuitive business strategy, and the nature of an entrepreneur.

The ability to be creative, think on the fly and make key business decisions with little time amidst the tsunami of external information is vital. Intuition is the natural intelligence that allows us to see ahead of the curve, to generate innovative ideas, to communicate powerfully and to do so without having to study spreadsheets or gather piles of data.  -Simone Wright

On more than a few occasions, I was designing 3-6 years ahead of the game.  And because of that, I either hit it out of the park or swung too quickly and struck out.  In 2008, a collection I worked on wasn’t market relevant, yet. Prospect Denim, a denim collection I helped create and launch in 2008, become relevant – 5 years later.  In fact, every denim company launching in 2013 offered that ‘homespun, made in USA the old fashioned way’ branding message that I created for Prospect in 2008. My partner at the time had the foresight to predict the laser technologies in denim finishing long before any other mainstream denim companies were doing it.  In 2007-08 I foresaw the return to the small batch, USA-made apparel roots happening before it did. Collectively, we saw the direct-to-consumer selling approach. Unfortunately for Prospect Denim in 2008, the rest of the denim world needed more time to “catch up”.  We made our dent in the fashion industry with our innovative thinking and award winning website but it wasn’t enough to translate that into multi-million dollar conversions.  Had we launched two years later, we would have completely crushed our competition.

Being too far ahead isn’t aways a bad thing, but timing is important.

I struck at the right time in 2009 with my first real apparel company, Berry Jane.  At the time, the ‘leggings as pants’ movement was still really new.  It was Berry Jane and Black Milk who were paving the way.  It was hugely successful in it’s first 6 months, and by month 7, we were already on our way to multi-million dollar revenues by year 2. My only kiss of death with that brand was allowing three of the four devils of branding and the wrong partnerships to enter into the picture.

They were:

COMMITTEES (water down inspiration)
BUREAUCRACY (rules override initiative and the ability to think)
RED TAPE (not being nimble and adding layers just because we think moving slowly is somehow smarter than moving swiftly)

As a creative entrepreneur, you simply can NOT let other people into your sandbox or business before the vision (or business) is fully realized.  I can’t stress that enough. Your brand and vision cannot afford to be compromised before it is fully realized. As an intuitive entrepreneur, you can seen how this will play out. Chances are, you have visualized the success of your project like no one else can. You can’t let other people change that. Most importantly, if you are going to change anything, it needs to be because you saw the areas that needed improvements or changes and you did it.  Use your intuition.

Be brutally honest with yourself. This is lesson #1 in intuitive entrepreneurship.

Be OPEN to seeing, hearing and feeling when something isn’t right and quickly adjusting or tweaking areas where you feel it needs to change.  If you discover that your idea simply sucks, or there is just not enough white space for your brand or business, it’s OK to adjust the sails or just fucking scrap it.  Spending time beating a dead horse or living in the past keeps you in that present state: beating a dead horse that will never rise and living in the past that will not propel you forward.  If you see something changing, or if the old ways of doing things aren’t working anymore, you owe it to yourself and your company to figure out why. Spend some time observing and taking it all in.  Pay attention to what is going on around your space.

Ask yourself: What does this project feel like?  Am I doing everything I can with it? What are the successful people doing?  Where is all of this headed?  As a consumer, what do I want? What does all of this feel like?

When you tune in more, you will get better at it.  Take time to be alone with your thoughts and meditate. Analyze your questions and answers.

In my past experiences, I learned to strike when it felt right and to avoid big decisions if I felt hesitant.  I also learned to avoid too many naysayers or partners who tried to change or complicate my flow of things. I learned how to walk away quickly from a person who felt “off”, or a project that just didn’t have the legs I thought it would have. Nor did I partner up with a person because I was desperate for funding or creative collaboration.  I was not attached to the projects or brands simply because I had invested so much into them.  That’s not a good enough reason to continue investing your time, your life, energy and money.  If it’s a project that needs changing in order to be successful, do the necessary changes that it needs, otherwise, be OK growing it slowly or toss it.  There has to be a return.  If it isn’t paying you back financially or emotionally, it’s not worth it. This is another area where your intuition will not lead you astray.  If it feels sucky, let it go and move on.

You have to be willing to hear and see what’s going on around you and predict what’s coming next. Where do you want to be in that game?  In 2008, Tony Robbins hosted a seminar on entrepreneurship. He talked about the economy in the USA, starting a business, and how it was going to challenge all of us.  He also spoke about the power of giving back and truly connecting with our clients and customers in a very personal way (through social media). If you have 30 minutes to spare, I highly recommend this video.

Anticipating is the ultimate advantage in business and in life.  Be ahead of the game, don’t wait to react.  Play the game. KNOW the road ahead.

 

Business

The Top 20 Business Networking Groups for Women Entrepreneurs

Where are all of the Women’s Business Networking Groups?  They’re not on LinkedIn. If you’re serious about growing your business and networking, you’re going to have to reach for the higher fruit. (Which may mean more face to face interaction and networking).

A LinkedIn Group, (which I am a member of) called Connect: Professional Women’s Network, has nearly half a million members. While it is a good resource for support, it isn’t necessarily a platform for true entrepreneurial networking that garners real life results. It’s a great place for women to share ideas online, get feedback and share their blog posts, but it stops there.  You can’t meet any of these women or connect unless you set it up yourself.  If just this one group met offline at a big event to network, collaborate and create true synergy, what a tribe it would be, right?  A half a million women from all over the world contributing their energy and resources to help everyone succeed.  

behind-every-successful-woman

The truth is, there are a lot of fantastic women’s business networking groups available to us.  You just need to find one that works for you. And then you need to get off your butt and get out there!  Plug in to your tribe.

I’m not recommending the Natl. Association of Professional Women, which, sadly, has a negative rating a mile long.  What I’m referring to are the groups and organizations founded and run by women who are truly making a difference in women’s lives by offering real business solutions and mentorships, venture capital funding and growth strategies.  

CFDA looks like a good resource for women in the fashion industry, however, it’s by invitation only. :\

Why does it feel so difficult to find legit women’s business networking groups that aren’t just trying to scam us?

The answer is: It’s not that difficult, and there are really good ones out there.  You just have to dig a little and be patient. Don’t sign up with the first one that blows fairy dust all over you.  Also, consider looking locally at Meetup.com.  There are a ton of small, mid and large sized networking groups that may be very beneficial to you.

I have done a little digging for you, and these are the top Business Networking Groups for Women Entrepreneurs that I have found on a national scale:

 

countmein

1. COUNT ME IN  Founded by Nell Marino, an international and national champion for women and girls and the creative force behind Take Our Daughters toWork Day. Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources, business education and communitysupport for women entrepreneurs seeking to grow micro-businesses into million dollar enterprises.

Count Me In knows that women entrepreneurs grow exponentially when given access to the right tools, coaching and community, which has lead them to launch three unique programs: Make Mine a Million $ Business™ (M3), Urban Rebound and the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC). All of these programs are designed to help women business owners get growing!   www.countmein.org

CRAVE-MG_5558-cropped

2. CRAVE, founded by Melody Biringer, The CRAVE Company is focused exclusively on bringing women together to make waves in their careers and personal lives. They specialize in event design for authentic conversation. The first thing you see when you enter their website in big, bold letters is:

No more aimless wandering toward happiness. It’s time to start getting obsessively specific about what you want. So you can start filling your life with it.

Their mission is to draw out the stories and voices of women in business ina way where they feel seen, heard, and empowered. They host Events, Programs and Co-Storming Mashups such as the Seattle Fashion Industry Mash-up.  www.thecravecompany.com

3. Women’s Business Development Center The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is a one of a kind non-profit focused on fueling the economy through entrepreneurship. As the oldest, largest and most comprehensive women’s business assistance center in the United States, we have programs designed to help individuals in every phase of the business development and growth process.  www.wbdc.org

4. WOMEN 2.0 was co-founded by Shaherose Charania and is currently run by a strong team with key advisors.  It’s mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with information, videos, articles and worldwide events such as their PITCH conferences and monthly Founder Friday events.  There is a wealth of info on their website, so I would suggest spending a little time there researching topics that interest you. www.women2.com

5. WBENC The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council 501(c)(3) non-profit was founded in 1997. it is currently the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States. WBENC partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations to provide its world class standard of certification to women-owned businesses throughout the country. WBENC’s core focus is Certification, Opportunities, Resources and Engagement. www.wbenc.org

6. SBA.gov  Yes, the SBA (Small Business Association) offers Women’s Business Services (WBCs), which is nationwide and offers a ton of resources for women-owned businesses!  Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) represent a national network of more than 100 educational centers throughout the United States and its territories, which are designed to assist women in starting and growing small businesses. WBCs seek to “level the playing field” for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world.

SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) oversees the WBC network, which provides entrepreneurs (especially women who are economically or socially disadvantaged) comprehensive training and counseling on a variety of topics in several languages.  Check for local offices in your state for economic development offices.  I am lucky enough to have a couple of stellar universities and programs nearby who offer some amazing Women’s Business Centers! Look in your area, I am sure you will find some hidden gems, too. www.sba.gov

7. SAVOR THE SUCCESS was founded by Angela Jia Kim, and was chosen as Forbes’ Best 100 Websites for Women where “accomplished founders, creators, connectors and movers & shakers” push each other to achieve through meeting benchmarks – together.” Basically, Savor the Success is a membership network offering access to PR opportunities, an active online community, a virtual business school, community center, and wellness lifestyle hub for women entrepreneurs, makers and creators.

8. The Next Women:   TheNextWomen is a community of Investors, Entrepreneurs & Advisers. Their efforts are in supporting the growth of female entrepreneurs, from startups to companies making millions. Their goal is to advise,inspire & connect a global & local community of ambitious entrepreneurial women. They provide access to capital (perfect!), resources and networks, as well as offer their community support. They host summits and events such as their Pitch Competition .  www.thenextwomen.com

9. Dreamit | Dreamit Athena ‘Athena’, which is an accelerator for women created by founders of Dreamit Ventures, was launched in 2015. Ranked by Forbes as  one of the Top 10 Business Accelerators in the world, Dreamit invests in early stage entrepreneurs at all levels to create breakthrough technology companies. They provide startups with resources, advisors, investors, strategic partners and customers looking for innovative solutions.  www.dreamit.com

10. EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women The EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ program is a national competition and executive education program that identifies a select group of high-potential women entrepreneurs whose businesses show real potential to scale — and then helps them do it!   Without sounding too crude, this organization is for badass business women who are serious about succeeding. www.ey.com

11. MergeLane MergeLane discovers, accelerates and invests in exceptional women and the companies they run. Check out their website for more info, and see the current women-owned MergeLane companies  www.mergelane.com

12. Million Dollar Women Workshop Created by Julia Pimsleur. Julia Pimsleuris on a mission to help one million women entrepreneurs get to $1M in revenues by 2020.
Julia is the CEO and Founder of Little Pim, one of the few women-run businesses backed by venture capital in the country, and the leading system for introducing young children to a second language.  Julia has raised a combined $26 million in non-profit and for-profit dollars. After raising millionsfor her own company, she created her popular “Double Digit Academy” and online fundraising bootcamp to help other women do the same.  Check her out, she is doing AMAZING things!  http://www.juliapimsleur.com/

13. Springboard Enterprise Springboard, located in Washington, DC, is a highly-vetted expert network of innovators, investors and influencers who are dedicated to building high-growth technology-oriented companies led by women. Read their manifesto  https://sb.co/

14. Women’s Startup Lab The mission of Women’s startup Lab is to empower female founders to be strong leaders, to create powerful startups and to influence and shape the world though their companies, using collaboration, community and innovation. The inspiration for Women’s Startup Lab originated in Japan. Founder Ari Horie, growing up in Hiroshima, was raised by a single mother who understood the importance of individuality. http://womenstartuplab.com/

15. Chic CEO At Chic CEO you’ll find easy to understand, easy to implement business knowledge in its most basic form. Best of all, you’ll find other women who are willing to share their advice and experiences simply because someone else did the same for them. It’s a beautiful ‘pay it forward’ system!  The ground level information is there for you to get started in being your own boss – the rest is up to you.  Free to join!  🙂 http://www.chic-ceo.com/

16. Ellevate  Ellevate is the global professional network for women who believes in the positive impact of women in business. Their mission is to help women advance in the workplace, both for themselves and the greater good. It’s a great place where you can invest in yourself or invest in other women.  https://www.ellevatenetwork.com

17. She Owns It  A website and blog dedicated to empowering, connecting and supporting women in business. Check out their conferences listings for an inspiring workshop in your area!  You just never know how it will change everything! http://sheownsit.com/

18. SheWorx A NYC based weekly breakfast collective of strong female entrepreneurs and change makers centered around challenging topics and actionable strategies. They create events hosted by top founders, innovators and entrepreneurs. http://www.sheworx.co/

19. The Boss Network ©The BOSS “Bringing Out Successful Sisters” Network’s mission is to promote and encourage the small business spirit and professional development of women. The BOSS Network is a community of career and entrepreneurial women who support each other through conversation, online and event-based networking.

The BOSS network is also a Top 10 Forbes & Inc. Website for Women of Color in Business. http://www.thebossnetwork.org/

20. Womancon  Womancon (convention) is the equivalent to all of the other ‘cons’ we see out there, only their focus is to inspire, educate and re-ignite your entrepreneurial passion with amazing speakers and founders like Janet Hanson (Founder and former CEO of 85 Broads), Egypt Sherrod (CEO, Author and Host of Property Virgins) and Rachel Braun Scherl, to name a few!  Through Womancon, you have the opportunity to grow your network and build professional relationships with  other leading women entrepreneurs from across the country, or pitch the media. learn more at:  www.womancon.com

 


Wherever you find yourself, whether it be at a local business meetup, or a national convention, I think you will discover you’re exactly where you need to be at the right time.

Life is funny and awesome that way.