In 1997, I experienced what is a very proud moment in most women's lives—the birth of my first child. Two weeks later, I experienced what every mother fears most; my son suffered a massive bilateral stroke at two weeks of age that would leave him with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and profound mental retardation. He would be severely, multiply handicapped for the rest of his life.
At the time I wasn't an entrepreneur. I was a terrified 20-year-old mom whose life had suddenly changed forever. When I went online to search for information about infant strokes, I found very little. I created a Web page about my son that eventually led to me creating the first international support group for parents and families of pediatric stroke survivors to ever register with the American Heart Association in 1998. Through this endeavor, in 2000 I eventually fell into Internet marketing.
Over a decade later, I now own two companies that focus on website publishing and SEO consulting, but the road wasn't always an easy one. It was difficult and challenging and at times tested my dedication and my sanity. Throughout, I had an arguably legitimate built-in excuse to fail. But I never chose to take it. I chose instead to focus on what I feel has been my most important asset as a business owner: my will.
Instead of focusing on how my son's therapy sessions interfered with my work schedule, I focused on why I needed to make my business succeed; I needed to buy the expensive therapy equipment he required that our insurance didn't cover. I tried to take every negative and figure out how my success would counteract it with something positive.
Every female entrepreneur (and every entrepreneur in general) face their own particular challenges. Some of those challenges may seem impossible to overcome. But it is up to you to use those challenges as fuel and not let them become excuses. It is up to you to find and strengthen your will to face and overcome whatever challenges you'll meet while building your business.
Below are three ways I found to build my will and get through the challenges that came my way when I was building my business.
Find a mentor
A mentor doesn't have to be someone that you have actual contact with. A mentor is simply someone who is where you want to be and is sharing information to help you achieve the same level of success.
Do a search for blogs in your industry and find someone who has reached your goal.
For one-on-one or in-person mentoring, check out SCORE to find someone local (for free).
Whether you find your mentor online or off, be sure to make the most of it.
Find a "working buddy"
Look around your favorite networking spots and find someone who is near your current level of success and working to achieve the same future goals as you. Create a "working buddy" relationship in which you are available for each other to check on each other’s progress, listen to each other’s struggles and help each other find solutions and motivation to reach your goals. I still have several "working buddies" and find them invaluable to staying on track and getting through the tough days.
Remind yourself WHY you're doing it
Years ago I created my first Dream Board to keep me reminded of why I work so hard to build a successful business—and I still have one to this day. Put quotes that inspire you, pictures of things you'd like to eventually have (your wants), pictures of the reasons you want to be successful (for me, this includes pictures or my children, charities I support, etc)—whatever will give you that kick of energy you need when you look at to remind you exactly why you're working so hard.
Rae Hoffman-Dolan aka "Sugarrae" is a serial entrepreneur and well-known SEO consultant specializing in SEO audit services and link building strategies. She is also the Co-Owner and SVP of Marketing for Speedy Incorporation.