You’re Not Different. And that’s a Good Thing.
For years I have suspected that all of us, all women business owners, are working through similar challenges. We all face fears over capacity for growth and questions about our own ability to manage all the moving parts. How can I be present with my kids if I’m running a multi-million dollar company? Does hiring employees mean dealing with insurance and payroll (sounds like a headache already!)? What if more clients, more stores, more customers, more everything – means less of me to go around?
If you ponder those questions while trying to build your business there is good news. You’re Not Different & You’re Not Alone. Thoughts like these make each and every one of us consider throwing in the towel. What I can tell you is this: above all else, we don’t have to figure it out alone.
I have seen this to be the case across our first market – the DC / MD / and VA communities, and invariably I would visit or run a meeting and hear women saying – verbatim – the exact same thing:
- “I just don’t know what to do next.”
- “I think I’d like to hire, but I’m not sure how to do it and I’m a little afraid of what that step involves.”
- “I just cannot do it all,” and so on and so forth.
Part of what we do in our Her Corner groups is we listen, we reassure, we give examples of how it’s been done by others, and we remind one another that it can be done. But the difference is this: we look at it from a business perspective of how it can be done successfully, taking into consideration the owner or founder – and what would make her happy. Why? Because everyone’s definition of growth (and success for that matter) is different.
So when I first started talking with our strategic partner, SMARTY, about running our Groups program in their home markets, I suspected we would find similar challenges. What I didn’t expect was to feel like I had never even left my own back yard.
Last night we launched a new Her Corner Group in Boston, MA. It was a wonderful group of 12 women from diverse businesses – some with employees, some without, some with 5 years under their belt – some with more and some with less. Some women were wrapping up successful Kickstarter campaigns, some were struggling to determine the next step in a family business. And as I listened to them talk about their work, I was amazed, delighted, and slightly dumb struck at how easily our model applied in this completely new market. In this safe and welcoming environment, the women opened up – about their fears, about their challenges, about how tired they felt, and also about how excited, optimistic, and proud they were. Immediately they chimed in to offer ideas and stories, and when they broke into working teams, they challenged one another to think bigger, get specific, to harness the collective intelligence of the group and to problem-solve.
But what left me pleasantly stunned was that I literally felt like I was hearing the same conversation that I have heard in my own Groups program in Chevy Chase, DC. And while the fact that the same conversation was happening was not enough to leave me speechless, what did was the fact that I truly understood, I really knew, that if we could help women in DC, MD and VA grow their businesses by applying our Groups based model and program, we could and would help women in Boston, in Los Angeles (where we launch next) do the same. What I have suspected all along is true – together we can change the game for women business owners. This validation and realization created such a sense of wonder for me during our Boston Group launch.
I am so grateful to Amy Swift Crosby, the founder of Smarty, for understanding how we could work together to make a greater impact. While we operate two communities, we share one mission – to help women business owners grow according to their own metrics for success.
Last night was just the start of something thrilling and exciting. Together we will redefine what it means to be a entrepreneurial woman, with networks and support systems in place that kick doubt in the ass and bring home not just the bacon – but the whole breakfast.