I have repeatedly encountered the stereotype that a successful woman in an executive position is the true embodiment of Cruella de Vil and Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.
Many people believe female entrepreneurs are selfish narcissists obsessed with their careers and can’t love. Rumor has it that their hearts are colder than ice, and they have more manhood than Hulk. People also believe there’s a man with a fat wallet standing behind a beautiful business woman’s success. However, for the most part, female entrepreneurs are unbelievable individuals who have managed to make the way from a hired employee, a student, or a single mother to women business owners.
They have become strong leaders, motivating others to follow them towards the same goal and share the same values. And these are the qualities that distinguish a good leader from a bad one. Do you think this can only happen to the chosen ones? Today, I will tell you stories of ups and downs, despair and success, pain and incredible happiness. We will live through these famous female entrepreneurs’ stories together and see that although the road to the business is thorny, there are beautiful buds of flowers hidden behind the spikes and thorns.
Female entrepreneurs — Who are they?
Let’s start with the fact that there is no miracle pill making you a successful entrepreneur overnight. The same goes for poverty and misfortune — they are not a part of our DNA. So, who are these women entrepreneurs? Do they have to be single and stylish ladies with a short pixie haircut and a schedule for months ahead? Any woman who has achieved some success in professional life can well be called a businesswoman. It requires willpower and steel nerves, persistence, determination, and a wide range of other qualities, the training of which, unfortunately, is not included in school or any other programs. The life itself becomes an ideal platform for learning, which often gives motivating kicks in the back.
The most successful women in business
We must admit that the success story of Jennifer Hyman is not a fairy tale of a poor girl who became a millionaire. Hyman was born into a wealthy New York family, but she knows firsthand how difficult it is to build a career when you are a woman. After graduating from Harvard, the girl worked at Starwood Travel Company, but she quit because she believed the local management had stopped her from being herself. Hyman started working for IMG, a well-known talent agency. She was the only woman among 80 employees who managed to get a million-dollar contract and was bullied by men for that. Jennifer got acquainted with her future business partner at Harvard Business School. After graduating, the entrepreneurs plunged into their business and began to promote it. Her boyfriend left her, explaining in a note that “he can’t be around a woman who is so equal to him.”
In Silicon Valley, where Jennifer Hyman went to collect investments for their startup, sexism was commonplace. Hyman appreciates investors but says that if her name wasn’t Jen but John, she’d get a lot more money for the startup. In total, Rent the Runway employs 1200 people, and most of them are women. Half of the board of directors, 70% of hired employees, and 62% of corporate employees are women. In 2020, the net worth of the idea of renting dresses reached $300 million.
“I didn’t wake up one day and want to become an entrepreneur. I had the idea for Rent the Runway and thought it would be fun to work on and also thought if it was successful, it would make women feel great about themselves.“– Jennifer Hyman
Since childhood, Joanne Rowling had dreamed of becoming a writer. At 18, young Rowling failed the Oxford entrance exams and entered the less prestigious University of Exeter. After graduation, Rowling got a job as a secretary in the research department of Amnesty International. In the next ten years, until the publication of the first book about Harry Potter, Rowling had no significant income. Failures constantly haunted her. When Rowling was 25, her mother died. It was a great loss, especially since she had a very difficult relationship with her father, and they had not talked for many years.
Along with the mother’s passing, the fear of death came to Joanne Rowling. At 28, her marriage, which had lasted just over a year, broke up. In an interview with The Daily Express, Rowling’s ex-husband said he threw her out on the street at 5 a.m. with a newborn daughter.
Alone, with an infant in her arms, she could not get a job and lived for several years on social security benefits, which was barely enough not to starve to death. Rowling developed a depressive disorder as a result of the misfortunes and began to think about suicide. And yet, she did not break down. She had something to live for — her daughter and book. Twelve times she was refused before the small London publishing house, Bloomsbury, agreed to print the book. However, even this publishing house did not have much faith in success. And just five years later, Joanne Rowling became the most readable modern British writer, multimillionaire, and winner of prestigious awards. According to Forbes, she is the first writer globally, who earned a billion dollars on her books. Moreover, her legacy and the universe she created will stay in people’s hearts forever.
“I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”– Joanne Rowling
The story of Sophia Amoruso is a fairy tale about modern Cinderella. The future founder of Nasty Gal was born in California in a Greek-American family. As a child, she suffered from depression, so she left school and finished her studies at home. At the same time, her parents both lost their jobs, and the girl had to get a job in Subway, then worked as a saleswoman in different places. In 2003, she was first caught stealing — the girl tried to rob the hardware store in Portland and steal a grill stove and shower curtain rings. After paying the fine, Amoruso decided she should change her life. She returned to California, went to community college, and began thinking about doing something legal and brilliant. Two years later, 22-year-old Amoruso opened a vintage clothing store on eBay. Her theory was that you could ask for money even for a penny-thing if you present it correctly.
The entrepreneur bought cheap clothes and accessories, created bright looks for them, took pictures of her friends, and put the results on eBay. In 2014, the revenue of Nasty Gal reached $130 million, in 2015 — $300 million. However, Amoruso went into bankruptcy but never gave way to despair. She launched a platform similar to LinkedIn but designed specifically for women. The project’s goal is to motivate users to collaborate and help them find potentially promising partners to develop their business. Amoruso herself decided to also devote her life to mentoring and inspiring women to achieve their goals.
“Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson famously defined “entrepreneurship” as “the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” I give a “hell yes” to that definition — you should take that spirit with you to whatever job you’re doing or whatever project you’re undertaking.”– Sophia Amoruso
A step-by-step guide on how to become a businesswoman
The most powerful women in business will tell you that the path to independence is tough but is worth taking. If you do decide to become an entrepreneur, you should pay attention to many aspects.
There are three directions through which you can turn from a hired employee or mother on maternity leave into those women rocking business. The first and most obvious is your idea, which you want to implement and build a new company from scratch. We can cheat a little bit on the second option and choose from available business ideas for women when you do not have your thoughts and plans. The third option is even simpler. You can consider different options for franchising in the market and buy one of them.
Whichever way you choose, a world of new adventures, challenges, difficulties, pride, and happiness will open up before you. And you’ll need to go through essential stages before you can achieve the desired result. I’m offering you a guide that will help you slice and dice all your thoughts and actions when you want to act, but you don’t know where to start.
- Come up with an idea — Think about what you like. Don’t build an IT startup if you hate technology, but you know it’s profitable. Make a list of ideas and conduct market research;
- Evaluate your idea — Before you move on, think about how feasible your project is. Are people ready to pay for it? Will you get enough profit to spend your time on it? You should also make sure that your idea can be realized. If possible, survey your friends, acquaintances, and relatives.
- Name it — Choose the name that suits your business best. Then check to see if the domain name is available on the Internet and if it can be used in your county, state, or country.
- Develop a business plan — You’ll need a detailed business plan to provide to potential investors. It’s best to start by assessing your operating expenses. This way, you can predict how much it will cost you to produce a product or service, including production costs, transportation, taxes, payroll, rent, etc. You should consider in advance all the problems you may encounter as you grow your business.
- Think about promotion — Having an idea of how much money you’ll need to develop your business, plan your marketing budget, i.e., your advertising and promotion expenses.
- Legal side — Determine which form of ownership best suits your business’s requirements and goals: individual entrepreneur, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, a non-profit organization, etc. But you should do this when your business starts, when your first clients show up, and you are confident that your company will live.
Do not give way to despair if you encounter difficulties (and you will). Choose what you like to do and enjoy every step of your entrepreneurial development. Ignore the gossip and comments of enemies. This is your adventure, and you are sure to reach the desired heights.