Watch out world, there is a new breed of entrepreneur.
Millennial female entrepreneurs are disrupting industries, creating innovative products and ultimately, changing the world. The thing that I admire most about my fellow female entrepreneurs is that they are really doing it by their own rules. In the past, women have felt like they have to embody masculine characteristics to be successful. This isn't the case anymore.
Instead, lady entrepreneurs of Gen Y are embracing who they are, and aren't apologizing for it. There are a lot of leadership lessons to be learned from these 20-something-year-old business owners. Here are a few of the most important:
Humanize your business. The why in business is just as important as the what. Especially with social media, the story and reasoning behind your business decisions are important to not only your customers, but your employees too. The extra explanation creates a culture of loyalty.
"Not being straightforward is a huge mistake," said Andi Atteberry, founder of blingsting. "Any time I have worked for a boss who has been vague about issues that affected me personally, it has created a lot of resentment and instantly jeopardizes trust."
Embrace your inexperience. Ignorance is bliss. Zoe Barry, founder and CEO of ZappRx, a healthcare startup that gives consumers more control over the prescription process, was able to raise $1 million in funding with no real track record.
"I actually didn't know how hard it was going to be to raise the initial capital, and I went 18 months without salary or any guarantees," she said. "Not realizing the size of the challenge in front of me, I just assumed I could do it. I relied on my intuition and persistence and bet on myself over my track record."
Being new to an industry gives you the advantage of a fresh perspective; you can sometimes see the flaws that others can't because they have been stuck in the status quo for too long. That being said, female Gen Y entrepreneurs usually understand that they don't know it all either. To be successful, they have to ask for help, and bring in experts when needed.
Be yourself. Being an entrepreneur is hard work; getting a business off the ground is a long, torturous process. You might as well enjoy the journey by having fun and being authentic. It is a lot less work if you start a business that embodies your personality and things that you are passionate about.
Blingsting's line of bedazzled pepper spray is not only sold in more than 250 small boutiques, the products are also sold in larger stores, such as Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops, Ace Hardware, Peninsula Beauty and Bealls. The success of the brand has proven that business shouldn't be so serious.
"We have a product that girls love, we are making good business decisions, and we are getting it out there," blingsting's Atteberry said. "And I personally believe that there is no one better suited to run a sparkly pepper spray company than a petite blonde who uses the words 'seriously' and 'totally' probably way too much."
Try having fun with it! If you don't, chances are you will be a miserable business owner.
Own your success. Women are notorious for not taking ownership of their success. This new generation of entrepreneurs is working hard, and they aren't afraid of their accomplishments.
"Women sometimes feel that they don't deserve success and are apologetic about it," said Sheena Sujan, founder and creative director of her self-titled line of luxury leather handbags with an impressive celebrity following. "Women should never apologize for being successful! We should be confident about our success and not chock it up to luck."
As an entrepreneur, you are your biggest cheerleader, so you must be confident and proud of your success. This attitude will be infectious, and continue to propel you forward.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Rebekah Epstein is the founder of fifteen media, an agency that works exclusively with PR firms to get more media placements for their clients. She specialized in lifestyle, technology, healthcare and business. She also blogs about the ups and downs of gen-y entrepreneurship at NeonNotebook.