It’s an exciting time to be a woman these days. We have more freedom than ever to be anything we want to be, which includes being business owners or entrepreneurs. Doors that were shut for our grandmothers and even our mothers are swinging wide open for us.

In the United States, four out of every ten businesses are either majority-owned, controlled or operated by women, according to a study by American Express. I have no doubt that many parts in Asia are catching up quickly, as women entrepreneurs are finding their way.

You may be a business owner already, or you may just be starting out. Wherever you are, here’s an opportunity to learn from the women who’ve made it. I combed through what successful women entrepreneurs had to say about how they got to where they are, and voila! Here’s my list of the top five best pieces of advice from women entrepreneurs.

1. Patience is key on the road to entrepreneurship.

If making your first million were a simple thing, life would be very different. Yes, there are stories of overnight successes, those who have made it big in a short span of time. These are exceptions. More often than not, it takes time for entrepreneurs to turn a profit.

Leslie Fischer, the founder of eco-friendly mattress company Sustainable Slumber, says, “I wish I would’ve known I’d have to invest a lot of work and time into my business before I started making any money. Creating an online brand requires so many different skills: SEO, writing, social media know-how, etc. They all take time to hone and perfect and are necessary before you see any real money.”

The owner of Rose & Dove Specialty Gift Shop, Kellee Twadelle, says the same thing. “It’s not going to happen overnight. Just be patient. Set short-term goals.”

One way to make sure of this, according to Vivienne Tang, the Founder and Editor in chief of travel and wellness website Destination Deluxe, is to keep an eye on the budget, especially ay the beginning. “My best advice is to budget wisely.” She encourages women entrepreneurs to take advantage of the availability of outsourcing work to freelances, using co-working spaces, and marketing on social media sites in order to cut costs.

The New Savvy - Entrepreneur -best advice from successful women entrepreneurs 3

2. Failure is a gift and rejection is your teacher when it comes to being an entrepreneur

Now, I don’t mean to dampen anyone’s spirits. The truth is, any aspiring successful entrepreneur will make mistakes along the way, and experience their own share of rejection. That it will happen is not in question, what to do when it does, that is the crux of the matter.

Nicole Centeno, writer and founder of health and wellness site Splendid Spoon, shares her story. As an entrepreneur, she was trying to juggle running the business on her own, raising a toddler and an infant, and a strained marriage.

She says, “View failure as a gift. When the business is in pain, it will force you into submission, and if you listen, it will give back to you.”

What failing taught her was that she needed someone on board in the business alongside her. “I …opened myself up to the idea of inviting another leader into my realm. Sathish Naadimuthu, who is now our CMO, joined in July 2015, and we worked hard to make a significant pivot—moving the business from a primarily wholesale model to direct to consumer. Within a month of re-launching [the site], our business had quadrupled.”

Concerning rejection, Zakieia Rouah, who runs Anytime Fitness franchises in Morocco, has this to say. “People can make you feel very small when starting to work on your dream of establishing yourself in business, especially in a male-dominated business environment. Stay strong and confident don’t let them make you doubt yourself.

She cautions against taking rejection personally. “When first attempts are rejected, don’t take it personally. Seek explanations for rejection and modify and resubmit your plan.”

3. Which brings us to the next point, entrepreneurship is a team effort.

We women are used to multitasking, and frankly, we’re really good at it.

Too good, sometimes. Because as your business expands, chances are you are going to start needing to assemble a team. Kiné Corder, the founder of Presidential Lifestyle, says, “I was a one-woman show for too long. Aside from a web designer and a few apps, I was doing all the work.”

In hindsight, Corder wishes she would have hired someone else to do marketing and accounting, as well as an administrative assistant and a lawyer for her business earlier, rather than waiting until the fifth year after she started her therapy practice.

I believe a lot of women should take note of Corder’s words. “I’m glad there are so many apps that kept me afloat until I could afford to make the commitment. But hiring gave me a team, and that’s what it means to be a business owner.”

On her part, Serena Pau, the startup founder of Ozmo, says what kind of team is the best. “Build a team full of energy and synergy. Even the most successful female businesswomen have a support team….I don’t put boundaries on roles/positions but emphasizes the importance of team meetings, brainstorm sessions, and overall communication.”

4. Learn from other women entrepreneurs, and when you can, collaborate with them

Mentoring is a fabulous thing. After all, we sisters gotta stick together, if you know what I’m saying. Many female entrepreneurs find fellow women business owners who are helpful and willing to share their experiences. The onus is on you to reach out and give them the proverbial tap on the shoulder.

Tara Saltzburg started a business selling sleepwear for babies with sensitive skin, Westyn Baby. She says she’s gotten as far as she has because of help from other entrepreneurs. “I’ve learned a tremendous amount just by reaching out to other small business owners to hear about their experiences — successes, failures, lessons learned. For a long time, I thought I’d be burdening someone by asking to take a few minutes of their time, but I’ve learned that most people are more than willing, even eager, to share their experiences.”

Fern Koh, the founder of luxury beauty products Fernberry in Hong Kong, is a big advocate of collaborations. “My advice to entrepreneurs living in HK is to go ahead with as ‘crazy’ of collaborations that you can logically manage. They don’t always have to make perfect sense to work! HK is always looking and waiting for something fresh. Collaborations are an amazing way to extend your clientele, as well as to tap into new markets that you’ve never thought of before.”

5. For many women entrepreneurs, passion is at the heart of their businesses

One piece of advice that came up from women entrepreneurs over and over again was this: follow your passion. I totally agree! We need to feel strongly about what we do, and when we follow our passion, our work gets elevated beyond the ordinary, and we have the strength to go through difficult times.

Vivien Liu, the director of Architecture, Interior Design and Photography firm Studio UNIT has this to say. “For me, to be successful in what you do starts with having a passion for what you’re doing. This is particularly important for the business you’re starting because it’s going to be a roller coaster ride of ups and downs from the beginning, and nothing will drive you and keep you motivated but the passion for your job.”

Stacey Tyler, who founded transportation and security consulting firm Interactive Intelligence Corporation, emphasizes how important passion is from the get-go. Once you step out onto your journey, you have to be completely dedicated in order to even get the business off the ground. There will be naysayers who will doubt you, and if you don’t have a good team around you it could be hard to push through — but most of this perseverance will come from within. You’ll know in your heart that you’ll have something good and that you want to change the world.”

Must-reads for you!

The New Savvy has a ton of great advice for women entrepreneurs, just like this one, Steps To Success: Powerful Rules for Women Entrepreneurs, which I have to say is a must-read for anyone who wants to make it in business.

Or if you’re looking for some inspiring stories of women entrepreneurs, we’ve got this for you:  3 Asian Women Entrepreneurs & Role Models We Admire.

You’ve got this! You’ve got the grit, stamina, perseverance and passion to be a success, and we at The New Savvy are one hundred percent behind you all the way.

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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