Mompreneurs, business ladies, women with ambition, or simply those who just have an idea waiting to be realized – you know the many troubles of kick-starting your own business in this modern-day climate. It’s fast-paced, hectic, and very crowded when it comes to competition, so in addition to being original and true to your values, you need to come up with a whole slew of solutions to preempt problems in the first place. While some of them are simply common-sense, others are known only to those who’ve already dipped their toes in the entrepreneurial pond of innovation.
However, if you’re not familiar with the current business eco-system, keep reading to get up to speed and prepare yourself in order to overcome those obstacles with more resolve and knowledge!
Master the art of funding
Women-owned firms tend to have a harder time finding investors due to prejudice, but this doesn’t mean you should EVER give up. On the contrary, when you start hunting for the perfect source of funding, you should widen your net and keep it diverse. From angel investors, bank and independent loans, all the way to crowdfunding platforms, make sure to do your homework and look for various ways in which you can give your business a stable financial backbone. You can even talk to your friends and family and see if they’d be up for pitching in until you start turning a profit.
Get practical with your budget
Once you’ve found the best possible way to fund your business, you need to allocate your budget wisely in order to support optimal growth. For starters, that may mean you need an office space, and to cut costs, you can work in a shared office space instead of committing to a more costly rental contract. On the other hand, you can consider working remotely with the rest of your team.
To add to that, you may need to be on the go very frequently to conduct meetings, presentations, reach out to clients, and work with your partners such as manufacturers or web developers. In that case, finding cheap car hire options can make much more sense for your budget than purchasing a vehicle of your own. You’ll save on maintenance fees, upkeep, and various unforeseen issues that tend to pop up.
One of the most common issues so many business folk face in the early years of their journey is balancing their personal and professional life. That’s a difficult task even with a steady job, let alone when you’re struggling to find clients or deal with a website crisis every week. Who has time to think about cooking or hitting the gym, right?
Still, by investing time in essential self-care, you’ll actually invest in your business, too. You’ll have much more energy every day, fewer sick days ahead, more confidence for those tough negotiations, and better focus to muscle through those difficult tasks.
Find the right teammates
A one-woman operation is an excellent choice as long as you can handle the workload without it affecting your wellbeing. As soon as you notice your life is literally turning into work, you should take a moment to see which tasks you can delegate, and which portions of your business (such as bookkeeping or SEO campaigns) you can outsource to experts.
Whether you want to expand your local team or you’re open for working with freelancers from all over the world, you need to be careful to find people that will match your values and your brand identity. They might be an excellent hire from a professional perspective, but if they don’t have the soft skills you need to keep building your company, then you need to look further.
On that note, much like you need your future employees and business partners to be able to keep up with the market changes and customer needs, you also need to make room for personal growth. In fact, you need to invest in yourself in every way possible as you build your business, so that you can always have an innovative edge with your brand.
No matter how busy your life may get, take some time to develop your own interests, visit conferences, take courses, learn something new, or talk to new people. You’ll transfer all of that knowledge into your business mindset and allow it to utilize your skills in all the best ways!
Claire Hastings is a wanderer and a writer. She writes as long as she can remember, and she is very passionate about fashion, running, other cultures, and her cat.
The concept of ‘girl code’ has applications in the business environment too. Who is better placed to know the challenges faced by a female entrepreneur than a female entrepreneur?
The playing fields are not always even. Despite much progress, there is still a great deal of male privilege in many industries. Having someone who understands the challenges, offering mentorship is a great advantage. For established female entrepreneurs, the opportunity to share expertise and soft skills are greatly satisfying.
A competent mentor can make the difference between success and failure for emerging female entrepreneurs.
Here are some examples of how female entrepreneurs can mentor budding businesswomen:
Encouraging the female entrepreneur to take the risk
Jill Griffin’s post speaks a lot about taking risks when it comes to business. Many women have great ideas. A lack of courage or an unhealthy dose of self-doubt often causes women to give up without trying. Entrepreneurship requires taking large risks to seek larger rewards.
Griffin’s book, Women Make Great Leaders, tells the story of many women who took the leap of faith. Mentorship is essential prior to the launch of a business. Women must be encouraged by successful entrepreneurs to take the risk.
Risk means a chance of success with an equal possibility of failure. Griffin feels that while success is the goal, failure along the way also serves as a series of valuable lessons.
Mentors should be proactive in their approach to mentoring young female entrepreneurs
Female entrepreneurs achieve success after a lot of hard work. Seeing other women trying to succeed, the established entrepreneur need not wait to be approached for mentorship.
Offering to mentor someone might be an answer to prayer. Many people are too afraid to ask for help. The fear of being rejected or ridiculed is high.
Women who approach others seeking success and offer to mentor them can make a difference. Proactive mentors seek out women who might need guidance. Indicating an open-door policy could encourage a woman to seek help from a mentor. That opening move creates an opportunity for a mentoring relationship to begin.
Mentoring in a group is a good idea
One-on-one contact can be very intense and might be intimidating. The idea of having someone so successful focusing 100% on her might make a woman feel overwhelmed. Group mentoring sessions could prove more successful. A mentor can create a platform where women can meet. The women may be experiencing similar challenges.
The mentor plays more of a facilitating role. She starts the session, gives advice and guidance, and then opens the floor to discussion.
The mentees have valuable time to network and gain strength from others having similar experiences. The mentor is also able to share valuable information with more than one person at a time. This helps the mentor to reach as many women as possible.
Give honest feedback even when it’s negative
One of the most important aspects of a mentoring relationship is feedback. Mentees need to learn from their successes and mistakes. Having a mentor who shies away from pointing out shortcomings is not doing the mentee any favors.
In the relationship, successes must be celebrated. Failures must also be discussed, and advice is given on how to proceed.
EssayOnTime project manager Jen Atkins says that her mentor was never shy to tell her where she’d gone wrong. “Her honesty and constructive criticism gave me the tools I needed to succeed,” Atkins declared. A mentor should share with a mentee some areas for development for the purposes of learning and improvement.
Formalize the mentor-mentee relationship
Carol Rodz writes about mentoring as a way to help an entrepreneur and suggests making the relationship official. She writes, “In order for a mentor relationship to grow and evolve, it must be formalized at some point.”
This is sound advice for mentors and mentees. At first, the discussions may be informal. The mentor and mentee can establish a sound relationship.
The mentee can ask the mentor to make the interaction official. Alternatively, the mentor might offer to do so.
Formalizing the relationship allows both parties to discuss mutual expectations and schedule regular sessions. The mentor and mentee can decide on a comfortable mode of communication and set objectives for the mentorship process.
Share real-life experiences as part of the mentorship
The mentoring process is not about theory alone. Women want to hear that others have had similar struggles and get advice on what to do. Sharing gender-related frustrations is an essential part of the process.
The mentee should feel free to ask questions about overcoming these obstacles. The mentor can tell the mentee about encountering similar experiences and triumphing.
Gender-related issues are still a struggle for many female entrepreneurs. Despite gender equity legislation in many countries, women still struggle. Male-dominated industries are hard for women to break into. Women have traditional responsibilities like housekeeping and childrearing to contend with while climbing the ladder to success. Discussing how to balance it all will give the mentee strength to persevere.
Empathic mentoring is an effective approach
An empathic approach is helpful for female mentors seeking to guide and help female entrepreneurs. The approach requires a mentor to show the mentee that she can put herself in someone else’s shoes.
Empathic mentoring makes the mentee feel reassured and secure in the relationship. Feeling safe in the space created by the mentor will make the mentee more likely to share everything instead of holding back.
Empathic mentoring is an approach known to create a long-term relationship. The skills needed for this approach may not come naturally to the mentor. They can be developed with time and patience. This makes it a worthwhile skillset that a mentor can, in turn, pass on to a mentee.
Mentoring is a great responsibility. Mentors can learn much from the process as well. Sharing expertise and skills is vital as these will help the mentee succeed. Many mentors use the opportunity to mentor to foster self-growth and rediscover themselves in the process. A female entrepreneur who has felt a need to mentor someone should take the leap of faith and do it. Those who might not have should consider doing so. Another woman’s life may be forever changed by it.
Serena Dorf is a content writer in Los Angeles. She is passionate about writing, personal development, education, and marketing. In her free time, she is reading classic American literature and learning Swedish. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter.
For as long as I can remember, I have tried to follow the “right” path and take all the “right” steps. I took school (very) seriously. Never got in trouble. Filled my plate with extracurriculars. Everything society tells you is important was important to me. Maybe too important. This led to a lot of accomplishments but concurrently, a life of anxiety and stress…and not necessarily happiness.
I kept myself busy, always going, always moving forward to the next thing – college (4 years), grad school (4 years), then the next logical step, pursuing licensure…another 2 years minimum. Passions of mine like dance and theatre got pushed aside because they weren’t realistic options and the opportunities weren’t there where I grew up in Florida. Plus, I was good at school.
Upon graduating with my M.A., I was offered an incredible full-time job at Rollins College, my alma mater and dream school. No way I could pass that up. Additionally, I was offered part-time work at my counseling supervisor’s private practice where I could begin accumulating hours toward licensure with supervision included. I’d be crazy to pass that up, right? And just like that, my schedule consisted of a 8:30am-5:00pm full-time job, rushing to see clients at the private practice (almost running over Paul McCartney but that’s a story for another time) from 5:30-9:00pm, shower, maybe an hour tops to unwind…and up early for 7:00am boot camp if I wanted to get a workout in.
It was too much. But I had essentially been working like this since birth. Told that hard works pay off. But when? I had a lot going for me but I was not happy and started to question what I was even working toward anymore. Lost site of my end goal. Pushing forward without asking questions had just become second nature. When I finally stopped to breathe and ask the big questions, it dawned on me…life is short. I didn’t want to get stuck. We only have one life to live and I wanted to fully experience mine.
I started thinking about where else it might be exciting to live. Apart from a small stint in London for a semester study abroad in college and that time my family almost moved to Belgium when I was 8, I’d never lived anywhere other than Florida. I didn’t want to live a life with regrets, never knowing what could have been. That sounded much worse to me than any alternative so, I leapt. I gave notice at my jobs, cleared out the apartment I’d lived in for 10 years (including all the awards I’d racked up and thought were so important over the years), packed up my (small) car with whatever I could fit, and drove to NYC, without a place, without a job, without knowing anyone there. And it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
I made the move with a lot of unanswered questions and blanks to fill in (and spoiler alert, though I don’t want to say too much because there’s a whole book on this to come) but it all came together, one day, one step at a time. I’d be lying if I said it was easy. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life and I experienced all of the stages and emotions but it was worth all of the blood, sweat, and tears. People will think you’re crazy. You will start to think you’re crazy. But don’t let that stop you. Grab ahold of your life strongly with both hands. It’s about more than your job, your house, your car, your possessions. None of it means anything if your quality of life isn’t there. Is something missing? It’s never too late. Sure, it’s scary. I get it. But that’s half the fun. You will figure it out, I promise.
Angela is an actor and influencer in NYC. She graduated with her B.A. in Psychology and her M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. Angela toured the U.S. as bassist and vocalist for alternative rock band SMB Project and is passionate about advocacy and activism. She is a lover of fitness, music, the beach, breakfast, traveling, and thrift store shopping. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @angelabelcamino
The reading nook. Every home deserves to have one in this chaotic day and age. When the day is done and the stress of the outside world starts to slowly dissipate into the unknown, the last thing we want to do is to try to relax by once again staring at a smartphone screen or watching TV. Instead, you need to rest properly on an emotional, physical, and psychological level.
A good book can help you achieve this and so much more. Whether it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon just for you, or a quick reading session before you turn in for the night, letting yourself go to the comfort and serenity of a romantic reading nook with a book in hand can be a truly restorative experience. Here is how to create such a setting in your own home.
Start with the lighting
Aside from mere illumination, lighting in interior design is used to set the mood in the room, accentuate certain features, and help the right kind of vibes imbue the space with that romantic homey vibe. When it comes to designing the perfect reading nook, lighting will play a vital role.
You could just read under the base overhead light that’s already in the room, but that would be a terrible waste of your riding nook’s aesthetic potential. Instead, turn off the chandelier and introduce dedicated lighting for this area. When you’re reading in the daytime, natural light should gracefully fall onto the seating area without making it too hot and without producing a glare from the windows and the surrounding decor, so be sure to balance the light beams with beautiful curtains or natural blinds on the windows.
The setting area is your focal point
Of course, the main spot in the reading nook is the seating area, and this can be anything from a cozy armchair with an ottoman, or even an entire couch other family members can enjoy with you. No matter the arrangement, this piece of furniture should be designed for maximum comfort – meaning that it should not only be fluffy, but supportive as well.
Choose sturdy leather upholstery for skeletal support, and then accentuate with throw pillows and cozy blankets later on. Complete the seating area with a wooden side table where you can lay down your book and other reading necessities.
Cozy up the setting with layered rugs
They are key to creating a reading nook of ultimate coziness (go ahead and write that in stencil on the wall behind it), lies in leaving no surface uncovered, especially the floors. There is a distinct difference between a reading nook with bare hardwood flooring, and one that enjoys the cozy vibe emanating from the fluffiness of the surrounding carpets.
With that in mind, consider positioning your armchair and ottoman on a soft Moroccan, and then layer strategically by putting accent round rugs right beneath your feet to create a cozy landing spot. It’s little accents like these that will make a beautiful, romantic reading nook come to life.
Surround yourself with books
Whether or not you will be able to truly surround yourself with books will depend on the amount of space you’re working with – sometimes, a reading nook is just a chair, a free standing lamp, and a corner. Nevertheless, there is always a way to strengthen that “intimate oasis” feel.
For instance, you can mount floating shelves on the walls next to you and put the books on your reading list on them so that you always have a good read close at hand. If you have plenty of space, on the other hand, then go ahead and position your seating arrangement right next to a grand bookshelf.
Don’t forget about pillows and throws
Now is the time to add the finishing touches to your romantic reading nook. Your lighting scheme is spot-on, the upholstery is not too soft or to rigid, the floors are radiating coziness, now you only have to add pillows and blankets to the mix.
This might seem like a simple task, but bear in mind that these additions can easily clutter up the look, so be frugal in your approach and only add the pieces that will enrich the reading nook in aesthetics and comfort. This can be a single chunky-knit blanket complemented by two accent pillows – one to support your lower back, and one to support good head posture.
The reading nook doesn’t get the praise and recognition it deserves in the modern household, and it’s time we brought this amazing restorative piece back into our daily lives. With these tips in mind, you will have no problem creating a romantic reading nook the entire family will love.
Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She’s passionate about fashion, home décor and healthy living. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”
Do you feel pressured by deadlines, responsibilities, and complex projects at work?
Unless you’re superhuman, you probably do. Work-related stress is an all-too-common issue the vast majority of professionals across all industries cope with – not to mention entrepreneurs.
We’ve sort of learned to accept it as a matter of fact – we manage the daily operations and keep the stress under control, but every now and then the workload expands (somewhat dramatically) and that fine balancing act we’ve maintained masterfully for weeks, maybe even months, goes to pieces. Pair it with responsibilities and circumstances outside your work life, and you’ve got yourself feeling like a hot mess.
That’s when we feel anxious, overwhelmed, and desperate to grasp some resemblance of order, both internal and external.
If this sounds all too familiar to you, it’s important to know that you’re not alone – and that there are ways you can manage these overwhelming pressures. Here are some helpful tips for fighting work-induced anxiety and finding balance.
Acknowledge your co-workers as teammates
When faced with an overwhelming workload, many people create a barrier between themselves and their co-workers, trying desperately to deal with their anxiety all on their own.
But what if you didn’t push back the people who are most likely going through the same thing at that very moment and who have the clearest insight into your situation at work?
Perhaps your company doesn’t promote a team culture, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bond with your co-workers and foster the team spirit. When things get tough, team members help each other by providing empathy, motivation, and energy, or they may even quite literally step in for each other and help out with certain tasks.
So, the next time you feel anxious and overwhelmed by your workload, don’t internalize it. Tell a co-worker what you’re going through, ask for help, don’t eat lunch alone – lean on your team for some support.
Ask for support from friends and family
Your co-workers are not the only ones who should know what you’re dealing with – it’s important to create your safety net, which can’t be complete without your friends and family. Tell them what you’re going through and what’s troubling you the most about the current pressures. And don’t think you’re burdening them – after all, that’s what friends and family are for.
It’s better to vent right away and let them know the issues you’re dealing with than to let the anxiety build up, suffer in silence, and lash out at some point. That’s how you’ll avoid turning work stress into home stress. When loved ones are clued in to what’s going on, there will be no misunderstandings on both sides – only then can they give you the emotional support and the space you need.
Take care of your body
When tensions rise, it’s more important than ever to take care of your body. This wonderful mechanism, where all the pieces are closely intertwined to form your physical and mental wellbeing, needs to be nurtured so it can help you push through.
Any kind of exercise is great for relieving stress, so dedicate at least 15 minutes a day to an activity you like to get your blood pumping. Trust me, you’ll feel better for it, and yes, you can find 15 minutes in your busy schedule. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid alcohol and other stimulants, and try to get enough sleep.
Sleep can be an especially tricky issue when you’re fighting anxiety, but if the stress is keeping you tossing and turning at night, try to avoid sleeping pills. It’s always better to find a natural solution, such as plant-based stress support supplements to promote healthy sleep because unlike sleep meds, they have no side effects. These types of products can provide you with stress-relief by managing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, with the help of natural ingredients known as adaptogens.
Set boundaries and find your relaxation rituals
You need some serious you-time, otherwise you’ll burn out completely.
First things first, set clear work-life boundaries to the best of your ability. If boundaries are something you’re especially having trouble with, it’s okay – start small and you’ll get there. For example, dedicate a 100% work-free hour each night.
Take that time to reset both mentally and physically. A relaxing daily routine that you truly enjoy helps you maintain a sense of order and calm amidst the chaos. Maybe it’s pursuing a hobby that you love, watching your favorite show, doing a relaxing beauty routine, or taking a hot bath each night before bed – whatever works for you.
When you think about the overwhelming workload and you have no idea how on Earth you’re supposed to get all that done on time, the panic is bound to settle in.
Take a deep breath and step back. Not everything is urgent.
Grab a pen and paper and write it all down, one by one, then assign priority rankings to each task. Think in small steps, focus on time management, and develop a day-to-day plan for tackling the monster project. You’ll feel a lot calmer when you have a battle plan and when everything is put on paper rather than swarming around your head.
Work inevitably gets overwhelming from time to time, but the only way to handle this anxiety is by maintaining your perspective. Remember that this will pass and use these tips to help you get through it. Lastly, although humor may be the last thing on your mind in uptight situations, do try consciously to find a bit of it every day – it really heals.
Caitlin is a bookworm and recreational dancer. She is also a medical student in love with science in all its forms. Her fields of expertise could be summed up in psychology, productivity, and well-being related topics. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and Universe, Caitlin is researching and writing about various health-related and well-being related topics. She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, grilled tofu, and hiking. To see what Caitlin is up to next, check out her Twitter dashboard.
I remember sitting baffled, my backpack still in my lap, at the start of an elective course during my Masters. The course was a small one, and was geared towards teaching designers how to start their own design agency after university. The lecturer asked all of us what our motivations were for choosing the course. Some of the students had a really clear idea of what they wanted to do with the knowledge acquired which is why lecturer was somewhat surprised when it came time for me to share and I said, “I don’t really see myself as an entrepreneur, but the disciplines that this course addresses I want to develop 100%”. I won’t go too much into detail about the lecturer’s response, but let’s just say the conclusion was he believed I could best spend my time elsewhere. This struck a chord with me. Why on earth should I not choose to spend time learning something I don’t know much about yet, something I want to deepen my skill set with? It was a situation that resonates with me now as an entrepreneur because it shows the things I’d rather follow than fear.
Following your eagerness to learn
Looking back at this situation is now funny to me. To think that I have ever said the words “I don’t really see myself as an entrepreneur” would make most people that are close to me smile a little. In the years after accidentally landing my first freelance design gig, I’ve built a business where I sell, license and create art for many different clients. Interestingly, that accidental project began a few months after taking the course I talked about before – isn’t it funny how that stuff works? The reason I am now putting myself out there as a creative is a simple one: I followed my eagerness to learn and grow as a person.
What’s weird about thinking back to that moment, is the fact that there is such a clear difference in how I approached learning something new versus the expectations that were apparently there regarding the enrolled students. My insatiable hunger to learn, develop, grow, and find topics that can help me get ahead is what helped me discover an entrepreneurial spirit within me I never thought I possessed. This is also the reason why, aside from my artwork, I looove putting creative video workshops into the world to help out people like me!
The Magic is In The Doing art print – by Anna Lena Illustrations
Follow the thing you like best
Taking bold risks in your career to follow the path you believe in most can be pretty freaking frightening. I remember having freelanced for a year or so while also finishing my Masters degree and working part time as a designer in an IT company, and realizing I had to choose a freelance focus. In that time I was doing some app design, some web design, some consulting, and only a little bit of illustration projects. So, while I was working on my part time job, I was already busy with tech projects. Even though those tech projects covered the starting cost of my business, a laptop, a drawing tablet, and a ton of art supplies, I decided to focus on illustration jobs. That was also around the time I rebranded to where I currently am and started building my portfolio, online shop, and designed new workflows for client projects. I talked about it to my friends and family so much, I was afraid their ears were going to fall off or take a spontaneous holiday…what if the thing that allowed me to save up for after college, money I made ALL by myself, would suddenly go away? Could I go get the clients back? I didn’t know. I decided to go with my gut – after the fiercest research ever seen, that is. You could definitely say I’m an organized chaos muppet, yes. I have some pretty handy ways to stay productive and happy, even though my ideas are running at 1000 miles a minute :).
Listen to your instinct to fight back
There have definitely been moments where I was scared out of my socks. Truth be told, I found the whole admin stuff a bit overwhelming, especially in the beginning. From the get go, I have been very organized with my finances and contracts, even though they have definitely improved. Still, I felt really overwhelmed when issues popped up that I didn’t know how to solve. In those moments, I said to myself, “I’m going to quit. This sucks so hard.” But, the thing that kept me going was that I always knew someone I could ask for advice. That was my instinct to fight the fear and inform myself, so it would not be so scary anymore. There are many ways to connect with entrepreneurs even as an introvert and digital nomad. The key is to build connections with people you think are doing great work, people who are on the rise with you. Those are the people that can offer support in those difficult moments and help you fight back.
Speaking of working with people, I totally understand the instinct to hide at home or in your office and just dig into the work. This can work really well, but in my experience only for so long. I personally love those days where the only people I talk to are the mailman, the people at my fav coffee place, and my significant other. Yet, the whole point of business is to get your work and your mission to the right people. It can be hard to market your work or yourself when you have no audience especially when you’re just starting out. That’s why I loved connecting to other creatives which helped me fight the overwhelm and get info I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. New ideas, new info, new connections, new opportunities, people who truly understand you.. all that is the true value of collaboration!
The thing I loved most about starting my own business right out of college was that it didn’t have to be perfect right away. Because I started while studying, I had time to experiment with my branding and figure out what type of clients and work I was most interested in. I could switch between the security of having a job and a freelance career, and learn and play without having to think about the rent and a myriad of other adult responsibilities. It brought me to this point, where I am sometimes still overwhelmed or anxious about where I am going, but I do have good collaborations, business friends, a fighter’s instinct, and my eagerness to learn. What I also have at this point is a successful illustration career, an online shop, an eBook, and handy resources for creatives who are just like me. I know what defines me and it is not the overwhelm. What I really would love for those of you who dream of making bold decisions to take away, is to never follow fear. Please, follow one of the above options instead or find intrinsic motivations that describe you way better! You will be so glad you did.
Anna Lena is an illustrator who loves french fries, making jokes and everything that is creativity-related. Her work is colorful, captivating and helps her clients get the right people really excited about their mission. When she isn’t working on her illustrations, she is talking about creativity and productivity at events or in video workshops for creatives.