November 1

10 Key Lessons On Starting Your Own Business From Women Entrepreneurs Who’ve Inspired Me

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Starting and running a business is one of the most rewarding things that I believe one can do with their life. That’s why I try to seize every opportunity I get to help promote entrepreneurial spirit. I’m especially passionate about helping female entrepreneurs. Now more than ever, women are being encouraged to start businesses and there’s never been a better time in history to do so. But there’s still a long way to go for us, along with obstacles that we have to face that our male counterparts don’t necessarily have to deal with. I wanted to put together a post about some of my top tips for starting and running a business, but as I set off to create that post I thought, “I’m just one woman starting a particular type of business. I wonder what the female entrepreneurs that I admire would have to say about what they’ve learned along their journey?”. So I reached out to a few of the women that I look up to and asked them to share a crucial lesson that they’ve learned from starting and running their own businesses. Some of these women you might recognize, and some you may not have heard of yet, but each of them has shared what they feel the number one lesson they’ve learned and how they believe that has contributed to their success as entrepreneurs.


Lela Rose, Designer

“The importance of building a great team has been my greatest lesson. The people that you surround yourself and your business with are extremely vital to success. In addition, these are people that you spend a majority of your time with and creating a community/ family like atmosphere makes work feel like fun.” 


Karen Behnke, Founder of Juice Beauty and Serial Wellness Entrepreneur

“Follow your passion and that will get you through all the ups and downs of running a business. Becoming an entrepreneur is incredibly rewarding and amazing, but at times it can be lonely and a bit scary. If you are working in your area of passion that passionate energy will fuel and allow you to overcome the hurdles that inevitably happen in an entrepreneurial life. My lifetime passion is wellness and organic living with Juice Beauty being my third business in this area. Starting an organic beauty company TWELVE years ago was pretty crazy given that, in 2005, not many consumers were thinking about their beauty product ingredients! My zest for organic living and changing an industry has fueled me and our company’s growth beautifully. I think the main downside of being a driven entrepreneur can be lack of sleep; however, there are so many benefits of running your own business including creating an interesting life, completing your sense of purpose and meaning in life, and having some control over your destiny.”


Reese Witherspoon, Founder of Hello Sunshine & Draper James, Actress-

“Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know something. Ask questions. When I first started Draper James, people were talking so fast and I didn’t understand half the terms they were using. So I would turn to the person on my right and say, I’m so sorry, can you please explain? Now after 2 years of being in retail, I know all the terms. But it was really beneficial to ask a lot of questions in the beginning.”


Chloé Adelia Watts, Founder and CEO of chloédigital

“Find people who share your vision. From the very beginning I set out to work with people who felt the same as me about the industry we are in. Whether they be my team, CD members or friends. It’s so important to keep you motivated through all the ups and downs that come from being in business. They feed your soul and help you stay focused on the dream you are building.”


Alli Webb, Founder of Drybar

“One lesson I learned early on was how critical it is to remove “toxic” employees, regardless of how skilled they might be. For example, in one of our first shops we had a stylist that was such a major ring leader of negativity. She brought morale down for the entire shop and create an uncomfortable work environment. I was reluctant to fire her for a long time, however, because she was such a talented and requested stylist. When I finally reached a boiling point and let her go, I couldn’t believe how dramatically the vibe atmosphere in that shop improved. And my fear that it would impact our business proved to be unfounded. It taught me that the most important part of hiring employees is finding people with the right attitude, not just the right skills. My brother Michael (and Drybar business partner) and I always say, “You can train people to do almost anything, but you can’t teach them to be nice!”


Aimee Song, Founder of Song of Style

“My #1 biggest lesson I’ve learned was to hire people for the things I’m not good at. It was only two years ago I started hiring people to work with me. Hiring people meant I could focus on the creative parts that I enjoyed and work more efficiently. Also, another lesson I’ve learned recently is that being busy doesn’t always equate to success and the power of saying no.”


Lisa Sugar, Founder, President & EIC of POPSUGAR

“There are so many lessons I’ve learned as each year brings on new challenges but I think the most valuable lesson is to think about the long game. There are distractions left and right and new shiny objects that set companies off course. Its great to experiment, adapt and try new things but the core of what you create with your voice, vision and values should remain the same. That and the need to work hard and play nice which I wrote about in Power Your Happy. Starting a business is not easy and it can be very stressful. It’s important to give it your all while also being positive, respectful and a team player as you hire people to help you create something epic.”


Natasha Oakley, Founder of A Bikini A Day & Monday Swimwear

“The most valuable lesson I have learned in running my own businesses is the importance of passion within your work. Running a business, especially when it’s one you own means working long days, 365 days of the year which can take a huge toll if you don’t genuinely love what you’re working on. You can easily get burnt out, lose interest and you will take natural challenges and obstacles much harder. If you’re passionate no goal is too big because you will do whatever it takes to reach it.”


Jillian Bremer, Founder Sweet & Spark

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned along this entrepreneurial journey is that nothing changes overnight. You have to be willing to put in unwavering dedication and patience to let your ideas and business evolve organically. It takes a lot of trial and error to find your unique voice in the marketplace and the right business partners to help strategize and then execute your ideas from a creative standpoint. Nobody is an expert in everything! I never could have told you five years ago that today, in addition to our vintage jewelry collection, we would also be offering feminine clothing from some of our favorite designers. My biggest piece of advice is to let go of your expectations, trust your gut and time will always tell.”


Annie Lawless- Founder of Suja Juice & Lawless Beauty

“My most valuable lesson learned from starting and running my own businesses is to trust your inner voice and ignore anyone who tells you your idea is a bad one, or that what you are doing will never work out. I have had naysayers doubt my ideas, vision, and choices. It’s ok, you can’t please everyone and usually those in opposition are uncomfortable with your confidence. In the end, I am always right when I follow my inner voice and do what feels right to me. As women, sometimes it can be very easy to allow other’s opinions or input shake our belief in ourselves, our direction, and our decisions. Understanding the difference between valuable constructive criticism and unnecessary noise is incredibly important when selecting which advice to take and leave behind. Additionally, age is irrelevant. I was very young when we launched Suja. It is easy for people to make you feel too young to do something or doubt you because you don’t have “experience.” I quickly learned, I was willing to push harder and try things some people twice my age weren’t. Being young can be an incredibly valuable asset because your hand is on the pulse of social media and up and coming trends that can be really helpful in your marketing efforts.”


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