Close your eyes and picture a successful, wealthy and powerful entrepreneur. Is she wearing a dress?
Get the picture? The face of business is changing.
LIVESTRONG.COM caught up with six entrepreneurs who spoke at Wanderlust Hollywood’s Amazing Women Entrepreneurs event on Nov. 5, to learn about everything from creating a business culture to bottling and selling cultures. Here are their tips for women who want to engage their femininity and continue to shatter glass ceilings.
1. Danielle LaPorte, Author, Blogger and Speaker
During an interview with LIVESTRONG.COM, Danielle LaPorte revealed some radical snapshots of what an entrepreneur looks like. According to her, an entrepreneur needs to be comfortable with taking chances.
“Entrepreneurship is not for the risk-averse, so you have to know what your risk tolerance is,” she says. For LaPorte, that meant relying on credit cards to get her businesses off the ground.
La Porte also advises you to bail on projects you're no longer passionate about.
"I love quitting," she says. "When you can't muster any enthusiasm for the dream anymore, it's over." Winners quit sooner.
While she emphasizes the importance of maintaining meaningful friendships, saying, “I would be nuts and bankrupt without my girlfriends,” LaPorte doesn’t network.
Some of her most poignant ideas orbit around goal making and how to plan with your feelings in mind. In fact, LaPorte has written the book on desire, literally. And for any fresh faces looking for a place to start, she has a lot of strategies to help you tap into your core desires.
“Your lack of knowing has to be eclipsed by your desire and your hunger to make it happen,” she says. We make goals like getting a promotion or buying a house because we expect those things will make us feel a certain way, but LaPorte wants you to think about those feelings before drafting your five-year plan.
2. Radha Agrawal, Co-Founder and CEO of DAYBREAKER, Co-Founder of THINX
Radha Agrawal embodies The Social Entrepreneur, meaning she’s interested in what she calls the double-bottom line: Do good and do well. “I definitely want to make sure our shareholders get a lot of return,” she says. “But I also want to make sure that the world and society win as well."
Part of Agrawal’s double-bottom line is re-establishing society’s emphasis on community, which sounds like a no-brainer but is actually a huge, silent problem in the U.S. One in four Americans has no friends to confide in, she says, which is terrifying when you consider that having weak social ties is as harmful to your physical health as alcoholism and twice as harmful as obesity.
For Agrawal, building a sense of community doesn’t just mean surrounding herself with what she calls “F* yeah friends,” who are always stoked to participate, it also means fortifying her businesses’ internal community. She argues that the community manager should be the highest paying job at any business.
“When you’re spending ad dollars on marketing you have to keep feeding the beast of advertising,” she says, “whereas if you build a community from the ground up, brick by brick, then you’re really building a sustainable business.”
3. Daina Trout, Co-Founder and CEO of Health-Ade Kombucha
Balance and intuition are key for healthy eating proponent Daina Trout, whose business and personal mantra is to “follow your gut.”
Daina, who has a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Public Health from Tufts University, quit her job in 2012 to cultivate her kombucha company, Health-Ade, full-time. Now their products are in over 3,000 stores nationwide. Her advice to others who want to launch a food or beverage business? Do the same.
“Most entrepreneurs I meet are stuck and they don’t know how to go forward,” she says. “You’ve got to quit what else you’re going and give it your all. There’s got to be that risk.”
Trout founded Health-Ade with her husband, COO Justin Trout, and best friend, Head of Sales Vanessa Dew, using Daina’s own home-brewed recipe. Her personal relationships with Justin and Dew were soon eclipsed by their business, damaging their ties in a way that Daina admits took a long time to repair.
“You can’t be a great wife and a great CEO all in the same moment. I had to learn the hard way and I still sometimes have to relearn it,” she says. “You have to choose when you’re having that business relationship, and you have to then choose when you’re having the wife, husband and best friend relationship.”
Her advice adds up to being present in whatever role you’re taking on at a given moment. Then, remember to feed your relationships by investing time away from your company to catch up.
You can be a spouse, CEO, bestie, parent and real food advocate. Just not all at once.
4. Katie Willcox, Founder of Healthy Is the New Skinny and Natural Model Management
Willcox was recruited to model when she was in high school. Though she was labeled plus size, at the time she was playing varsity volleyball and exercising three hours a day. She takes issue with the way that professionals in the modeling industry, and society in general, marginalize healthy young women into categories based on their appearances.
“We have these images of extreme fitness being labeled as healthy and normal, and that really affects our subconscious and the way we view ourselves and each other,” she says.
Willcox teaches the Natural models to use their modeling career as an opportunity to find purpose beyond their looks.
“I wanted to start an agency that really connected with girls as people and say, ‘Use the industry to help propel those opportunities if you’re lucky enough to have that, but don’t let it use you.’”
Her advice to any aspiring entrepreneur is to stick with what you know. Do your homework by taking a class or working an internship in the field.
5. Ann Wang, Co-Founder and CEO of Enrou
Ann Wang's entrepreneurial vision uses e-commerce to do good for everyone. Enrou provides its shoppers with quality, handcrafted products while giving exposure to artisans in developing countries.
“I think the main value for our company is we really believe that creative and passionate people can really radically change the world for the better, but it’s up to technology to make that happen,” she says.
While Wang’s business is a model for incorporating of social responsibility into entrepreneurship, she’s still working on her personal health goals.
“I don’t think I’m doing a great job of having healthy habits right now,” she says. “It’s holiday season so shit hit the fan.”
Wang keeps it healthy by snacking on homemade chia seed almond crackers and eating a plant-based diet. The certified yoga instructor also likes to go on a run now and then. Her main point of advice is to be mindful in your work.
“I think you have to find balance while you’re working, which is just being in the moment while you’re doing something,” she says. “Even if it’s a stressful moment, be there and do it and move on.”
6. Jessica Koslow, Founder and Chef at Sqirl
“California-style” takes on a new meaning with Koslow, who describes it as the “athleisure” of cuisine. Like wearing yoga pants to the office, L.A. eaters keep healthy, farm-to-table food casual.
“It’s healthy-ish,” she says. “You can decide if you want this vibrant, light chicken salad that has dehydrated vegetables on it with bok choy or ricotta toast.”
Koslow notes that along her path to success, she’s learned not to be afraid of being afraid.
“You just have to give yourself over to your passion and your focus and there are some things that come along the way that are going to scare you but you’re actually better off for it.”
What Do YOU Think?
What’s your takeaway from these stories? Are you interested in becoming an entrepreneur? Share a story about how being a woman or working with women has impacted your career.