Business Success Starts 'With One Person, an Idea and a Passion'

Leaders including the founder of Dylan's Candy Bar and co-founder of Birchbox share some great advice during the U.N.'s Women's Entrepreneurship Day conference.

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By Nina Zipkin

When you look at some of the statistics about women and work, you get the sense that we have a long way to go.

Only 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Thirty-eight percent of new companies are launched by women, but only about 6 percent of those businesses get venture capital funding. According to the World Economic Forum, the world will reach pay parity in 170 years.

But the female founders and CEOs who spoke on Friday at the Women's Entrepreneurship Day conference held at the United Nations urged the audience of entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners to help one another in the bold pursuit of their goals.

Read on for five empowering business tips.

1. Success doesn't depend on only one person.
While the business is your vision, it is important to remember that you aren't the only one who is taking a risk. The early employees who are jumping on board and believe in what you are trying to accomplish are putting their livelihoods at stake.

"As an entrepreneur, you employ people. You have a fundamental responsibility to ensure the security of your company," said Ramya Joseph, founder and CEO of AI financial advisor Pefin.

Birchbox co-founder and CEO Katia Beauchamp recalled that during the early days of the company, her initial belief was that it would only be a real triumph if she did it all herself.

"You don't need to waste your time on those stumbles," she said. "The reason to ask for help isn't get the one right answer, it's to get perspective."

With that variety of perspective, she explained, you can then make the decision that is right for you and your company.

Related: 5 Powerful Rules for Women Entrepreneurs to Live By

2. Pay it forward.
HSN CEO Mindy Grossman said that some of the most gratifying parts of her career have been helping others, even when their successes didn't have any bearing on her own. Celebrity chef and author Sandra Lee agreed.

"When you have the advantage of mentorship, give it back," she said. "Mentor as many as you can, and be fearless."

3. Don't wait to speak up about what you care about.
When building a thriving company culture that is diverse and inclusive, "at any point in your career, you have the capacity to make an impact," Grossman said. Part of that is making sure that everyone that you work with from partners to vendors to recruiting agencies has the same buy-in that you do.

"This is not something that you can delegate," she said. "It has to be a core belief and tenet of your business strategy. You have to hold everyone in the supply chain accountable."

Kay Koplovitz, the founder of USA Networks, the SyFy channel and Springboard Enterprises, said that ultimately, you are your own best advocate.

"You have to love the sound of your own voice," she said. "Feel comfortable speaking up for your own accomplishments and your own success."

Related: On Women's Entrepreneurship Day, We #ChooseWomen

4. Follow the money.
Joseph advised that when seeking capital, you have to factor into your pitch how the investors in question will be seeing your company's potential. Think about how it looks from the outside.

"Investors see a ton of deals, and they need to know that you are going to hit their marks," Joseph said. "You can't just sell the story, you have to sell the business."

And whether you are just starting out or you're trying to innovate in a corporate setting, if there is an initiative that you feel strongly about, when broaching it with the powers that be, lead with the numbers.

"[Explain] the business case, the return on investment, the action plan and what you think the results will be," Grossman said.

Related: A Female Founder's Tips for Fundraising

5. Dream big and find people to share it with.
Dylan Lauren, the founder of Dylan's Candy Bar, said that it was the people she met along the way that made it possible to grow her business to what it is today.

"Connect with everyone. Don't miss an opportunity to be introduced to somebody," she said. "If you honestly believe that your idea is great, surround yourself with people that believe in it."

Koplovitz agreed that success begins with human capital, and urged the audience to not hesitate to launch something new.

"All big businesses start small. They start with one person, an idea and a passion," she said. "Anyone can do it. Just go out there and put one foot in front of the other."
Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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