C-Suite Women Serve Up Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs
Progress is being made as more and more women taking seats in the C-suite. In 2013, women held 14.6 percent of executive officer positions, a tiny spike from 14.3 percent in 2012, according to Catalyst. Granted the rate of change is slow, but at least it’s a shift in the right direction.
For me, it's been an exciting time to watch this evolution. I have had the opportunity to work with some great women in leadership roles.
And these days Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is not the only woman in the C-suite sharing advice. While her influential book Lean In offered advice to encourage women to achieve their goals, other female executives have insights for men and women on.topics ranging from management and business growth to work-life balance and customer service.
I reached out to some women in the C-suite I know to gather advice they would share with budding entrepreneurs. Here's what they wrote:
One essential tip is to bring a positive mindset when building a business. Rolonda Watts, CEO of Los Angeles-based Watts Works Productions and a friend, says to entrepreneurs of any age: “Be courageous, strong, and daring in your risk-taking business venture. Replace fear with faith when challenged.” Adds Watts, “Make work and play look and feel like the same thing. Do what you love and love what you do.”
Next, be sure to keep a solid business plan. That includes knowing your conditions of satisfaction and the things that you will do. Emily Constantini, president of Encinitas, Calif.-based EMME, shared some wisdom that resulted from her choices: “When I started [my] business, I made the [conscious] decision to do three things: stay true to my vision for my product; collect opinions and decide which are valid; and leverage resources for expertise outside my own,” she says. (Disclosure: I sit on EMME's board.)
For entrepreneurs, mentors are increasingly important. Experienced mentors can help guide a startup owner and mitigate the risks.
“Learning from other people’s mistakes prevents you from making them for yourself and helps your business grow more quickly,” says Virginie Glaenzer, executive vice president of marketing for New York City-based Great Eastern Energy and a client of mine. “Write down the list of qualities and experiences you’d like your mentor to have. Then, attend networking events and join online communities to identify your ideal mentor and then simply ask them.”
Constance Freedman, managing director of Second Century Ventures who is vice president of strategic investments for the National Association of Realtors, echoes Glaenzer. “Validate your model and then find the best partners and network to help you succeed. Don’t stop asking until you get the answer you want to hear,” she says.
Whether the entrepreneur's office is on Main Street or Wall Street, he or she will hear no frequently. Don’t give up after the first, second or even third rejection. When one door closes, another opens, so keep at it.
Remain focused on goals. Jenna Woodul, executive and chief community officer of San Jose, Calif.-based LiveWorld, recommends. “Even though your focus is sharp -- and you’re passionate, directed, and believe you’re right -- remember that business and competitive conditions change quickly; keep one foot up and be ready to pivot.” (Disclosure: I sit on LiveWorld's board as well.)
“Look at your business frequently through both your binoculars and microscope,” adds Heidi Lorenzen, chief marketing officer of San Francisco-based Cloudwords and also a client. “In a small operation, the little things are the big things. Peer deep into your business but don’t lose perspective by constantly focusing on details.” Step back to take in the big picture on a regular basis, she advises.
Experienced entrepreneurs, what other advice do you have for new entrepreneurs eager to follow in your footsteps?
Related: 9 Ways to Become a Woman Influencer