Today marks the closing of National Business Women’s Month, a celebration of successful women business owners and their contributions to society. To round out the celebration, we asked five successful female business owners and experts to share one piece of advice they would offer to current and prospective female entrepreneurs. Here’s what these inspiring women had to say.
La Donna Higgins, Founder, The Startup Admin:
“Use your natural skills as a woman to catapult your idea or business forward. We have the ability to multi-task and see a task through to completion, this gives us a competitive edge. Step outside of the boundaries that may have been created for you as a woman. We are embarking on the possibility of having the first Female President of the United States. This is proof that we are prepared and ready to be Innovators and Leaders of the World.”
Nicola Corzine, executive director, Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center:
“Define your personal ‘call to action’ with every meeting you go into, especially ones where the focus is you! Many women struggle with the ask, fearing they’re intruding or asking too much. Instead of worrying about the potential of being rebuffed, practice your call to action ahead of your pitch. If you can’t go into every meeting asking for at least two things, you’re not pushing yourself to be as bold as your ambitions deserve!”
Mariana Frese, Co-founder and CEO Hellotracks:
“Learn how to filter through the advice you receive. People will give you plenty of advice and they will generally do it with good intentions. What people tell you may have worked for them but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. It can be super hard to do, especially if the advice comes from someone whom you have a lot of respect. It may even seem paradoxical, but by ignoring advice (that is not beneficial to you or your business) you may actually be opening opportunities. Spend time building your network, ask for the things you need and don’t forget to be selective with the advice you receive. At the end of the day, it’s you who defines the meaning of success.”
Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software:
“Don’t apologize. As women, we apologize all the time. Be who you are and don’t apologize. If you’re a mom and you need to go pick up your baby from daycare, you don’t have to apologize for doing it. If you’re a business owner, you’re probably working your butt off, and you don’t need to apologize to anyone because you have to go pick up your baby or because you want to go to the ballet recital.
“I think, oftentimes, women feel trapped, especially once they become mothers, because they’re not supposed to talk about their kids while they’re at work, and on the other side, they’re going to get judged because they’re not volunteering in the classroom. I think that if being in business makes you happy, it does not make you a worse person in your personal life. You can be a great mom and still be in business.
“Not apologizing for being a mom has allowed me to bring a lot of policies into our workplace that have made a big difference for a lot of employees.”
“Women need to embrace and excel in their careers and be who they are and not apologize for all of the other things in life. My kids come into the office all the time. We have a very kid-friendly policy because I think it’s important for us to all realize that kids exist. I think it’s good for kids to see what their parents do for an actual living. Not apologizing for being a mom has allowed me to bring a lot of policies into our workplace that have made a big difference for a lot of employees. I have a single dad who told me that his custody arrangement with his ex-wife has completely changed because of the flexibility that we give him. He is the primary caregiver when something goes wrong with their daycare or when school is closed for a snow day or when a kid is sick. He said it’s made all the difference in the relationship with his kids and with his ex-wife.”
Samantha John, CTO and Co-founder, Hopscotch:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
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This article was originally written on October 31, 2016 and updated on October 17, 2019.