Wow! What a joy it was to be asked by 8apart’s summer intern (my daughter Nina!) to write an entry for my other daughter (Frankie’s!) blog about my experience as a female entrepreneur. This request was so special because Frankie and Nina have been there with me every step of the way through my various entrepreneurial pursuits and have in, fact, served as the inspiration for many of these ventures. Now as I watch Frankie, launching and growing her own brand 8apart, I see my career experiences really coming full circle – I guess the entrepreneurial spirit is in our genes!
A little background…I began my career 34 years ago post-MBA as a management consultant in the healthcare industry. After starting at a big firm, I co-founded a boutique consulting firm and after 15 years, we sold our business to a big public company. At that point, with three young kids and wanting to get off the road, I did a complete career pivot and launched Frankie’s on the Park, a tween lifestyle brand/retail business. As a female entrepreneur launching these two very different businesses over my career, I can offer the following perspectives:
- Have a Vision You Are Passionate About. I started Frankie’s on the Park, after watching Frankie as a little girl; she loved to express herself through fashion, but there were few options for her that were trendy and aspirational, while still being age-appropriate. I was passionate about filling this void and doing it in my own special way. Don’t ever be afraid of trying something new… as long as you have the passion, the learning will follow!
- Plan the Work and Work the Plan. Early in my healthcare consulting career, I had a female mentor who was the Chief Operating Officer of a large healthcare system. As she rose through the ranks in a male-dominated culture, she achieved great success from always having a plan – she used to say “plan the work and work the plan.” I have found that having a plan that you work every day, week, and month instills a sense of confidence that you’re on track towards reaching your goals.
- Numbers Don’t Lie. I admit it, I’m a big nerd at heart! To be a successful entrepreneur (female or not), you have to always be looking at the numbers related to your business and let them tell you the story of what’s really going on. As hard as it is sometimes to accept what the numbers are saying – what’s selling/not selling, when your costs are too high, etc. – you’ll be better off in the long run if you listen to what they are telling you and readjust accordingly. Even if you don’t like math/numbers, you have to embrace their wisdom!
- Surround Yourself With Great People. I have been so lucky throughout my career to have phenomenal people (mostly women!) at my side every step of the way. You can’t and shouldn’t do everything yourself, and giving other people opportunities to grow with your business is one of the great joys of being an entrepreneur.
- Always Find a Way to Give. A core part of my vision for Frankie’s on the Park has always been to use the business as a vehicle to give back to the community in ways that support and involve girls. Supporting other females and organizations that can benefit from my knowledge, expertise and resources has truly been one of my greatest rewards of being a female entrepreneur!
I hope these tips have been helpful and I can’t wait to see you all joining the rapidly growing community of successful, bad a--- female entrepreneurs!