This week six successful female entrepreneurs got together to discuss business, women in business, networking and everything in between. This is what they talked about.
Six successful female entrepreneurs from a wide variety of industries joined Dynamic Business editor Rhiannon Sawyer to discuss issues ranging from managing the work/life balance to what is success.
Each woman shared their extensive experience with the group and has offered their own personal advice for women thinking of getting started in the world of business. Kim Liddell, owner of Non-Destructive Excavations Australia joined managing director and co-founder of BlueChip Communication, Carden Calder, along with Andrea Culligan, CEO and owner of The Unimail Group, Jacqueline Arias, director of Republica Coffee, Jo Burston, managing director and founder of Job Capital and Vanessa Stoykov, CEO and founder of Evolution Media Group.
The issues discussed included the importance of networking for female entrepreneurs, and each woman shared their positive experiences in belonging to entrepreneur organisations and women’s business groups.
Jo Burston talked about her membership of Entrepreneur’s Organisation and the Commonwealth Bank’s Women in Focus initiative. “There’s a 20 percent contingent of women in EO in Sydney, and other than Auckland that’s one of the highest globally. So that’s pretty strong female perspective on things that will in turn affect the male membership.”
Jacqueline Arias mentioned how she valued the experiences that networking groups gave her in terms of what it also offered her staff. “One of my staff said to me, you come and share things that we would never have access to. The network isn’t about the personal it’s about what you can share from your learnings.”
Networking was also important for Kim Liddell. “Working in these businesses and being an entrepreneur can be a very solitary thing, and if you don’t reach out to a network or an organisation, what do you do? Where do you go?”
Interestingly, every woman also had a different perspective on what it meant to be successful, and how they defined their success. Carden Calder said it was about hitting the numbers. “We are a financial services communications business that survived the GFC and for me that was the most frustrating year in business when I couldn’t hit the numbers – it drove me mad. So for me it’s hitting numbers, it’s the way we benchmark ourselves. It’s hitting milestones in the business, reaching certain achievements.”
Though financial success certainly played a part, for most women it wasn’t the main focus. Vanessa Stoykov said, “Money isn’t necessarily the biggest indicator of success. I think if you have a good idea and it takes off, then money will come. I think it’s proving that we were right. I think that showing that the niche works is the way to measure success.”
Each woman was also passionate about sharing their advice with other women and girls thinking about becoming entrepreneurs. Burston recommended knowing what the end point was before you got started.
“The questions that I ask a start-up is are you buying yourself a job, are you dissatasified with where you’re currently working, or is it that you have a burning passion to solve a big problem and do you have the leadership skills to get it going? How are you going to attract people that have the mentality of doing whatever it takes, vs what can they do best, and can you make tough decisions and do you have a higher purpose? Starting with the mission and the why you’re doing what you’re doing is the very first point.”
Liddell recommended knowing the industry inside out. “Doing the research, knowing your customer, knowing who they are, what sort of person they are, what the problem is you’re facing and knowing it intimately. The research is key. Throwing yourself into a business or an industry or a niche market that you know nothing about could be a recipe for disaster.”
For Arias, it was about having the passion to keep you going. “How passionate are you about this, how committed are you to do this, is it your dream to do this, becase if it’s not, you’re going to give up very easily. The amount of knockbacks, the amount of walls you’re going to hit, not only exernally but in your business is going to knock you over so you really have to have purpose and mission and vision and passion for it and that’s what gets you up every day.”
Culligan recommended being fit is key to success. “Being physically fit, during times of resilience for me is essential. You’ve got t-, it’s like sleep. I’m back at the gym now seven days a week and by the time I’ve come out, I’ve watched Ellen and it’s great, I’ve got a new perspective.”
“Self belief is so important,” added Calder. “If you don’t have enough of it yourself, go find someone who’s going to give it to you. That’s a really pivotal thing. It might be your partner, it might be your best friend or a mentor it might be someone you pay to tell you you’re great. It doesn’t matter. But there are days in any entrepreneur’s life, and I think women are particularly good at beating themselves up, when you think I don’t think I can do this, and to have that external perspective, and go from one day to the next, you need someone to say you are amazing, you’ve only reached 50 percent of your potential. That is such an empowering message and finding the person who can say that to you is really important.”