This article is part of “Celebrating Women Business Owners,” a four-week series highlighting the achievements of women business owners. The series starts with an infographic featuring “Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs' Business, Goals and Journey.”
As small-business advocates, American Express OPEN set out to discover what fuels the success of women-owned businesses and share it with all business owners and advocates. The women business leaders we’ve spoken to told us that developing an idea into a profitable business will occur once you turn these two entrepreneurial keys: overcoming self-doubt and assessing challenges and opportunities.
For Laura Fitton, who founded to great acclaim what’s been called “the app store for Twitter,” the road to success was rife with obstacles. Her company, oneforty.com (now part of HubSpot), helps other businesses navigate the exploding and ever-changing world of Twitter. Fitton concedes that she has had to navigate some personal challenges when it came to her confidence level. Specifically, she was concerned about her lack of management experience.
“I had never had an employee before and I hadn’t had a boss in a very, very long time,” she says. She had to overcome that initial self-doubt and simply dive in. Once she did, she had the confidence to execute what she refers to as the best advice she’s ever received: It’s okay to say no. If budding entrepreneurs hang onto one nugget of wisdom, Fitton believes it’s this.
Sandra Yancey, who founded eWomenNetwork, a 118-chapter women’s networking organization, had similar concerns about herself and the things she didn’t know about running a business. She, too, had learned these lessons along the way and now passes her wisdom on to others. She believes the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face is being able to differentiate an opportunity from a distraction. She offers this helpful advice: “An opportunity is what makes you money. A distraction is what runs you into bankruptcy.”
She offers these two pieces of wisdom to those starting out:
Be thoughtful, strategic and have confidence
Take risks, but don’t be reckless
Despite all the trial and error and sweat it took to make it happen, both Yancey and Fitton feel that owning a business is immensely rewarding. Yancey offers, “I love knowing that I’m creating opportunity for other people. I am really contributing to their lives in a very meaningful way and that feels really good for me.”
Fitton believes it’s critical to define your own success in order to reap the payoff of running an operation. “No one ever thinks they’ve achieved success. Success is understanding exactly who you are and feeling like you are working towards what you want to create in the world, however you define those things. It’s a process for sure.”
We hope that unleashing the insights of these leaders will inspire you to pursue success on your terms.
Join the Conversation
What does success look like for you and your business? Please leave a comment below or join the conversation:
Re-post this infographic (right-click anywhere on the images above to e-mail or save it to your computer)
Forward this article to a friend or colleague (you can use the OPEN Forum e-mail share tool at the top or bottom of this page)
Share and/or comment on Twitter, Facebook or your own blog about how you are #PoweringTomorrow in your community and within your business (Hint: Use the hash tag #PoweringTomorrow so we can all be on the same page!) As a start, complete the following sentence:
“I am #PoweringTomorrow by____________.”
We’re glad you’re participating in our celebration of Woman-Owned Businesses here on OPEN Forum and learning from our stories and infographics. Stay tuned as we continue to spotlight some incredible business leaders and role models—the women we think are #PoweringTomorrow.
Allison Silver is Vice President of Brand, Advertising & Advocacy for American Express OPEN, a role in which her responsibilities include oversight of “OPEN Women’s Business Initiative" and “Victory in Procurement,” as well as other programs designed to advance OPEN’s mission of helping small business do more business.
Read the 2012 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report that inspired this dialogue.
View the infographic highlighted in our kick off article, "Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs' Business, Goals and Journey."
Infographic courtesy of American Express OPEN.