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Leading Female Entrepreneurs

Being a Successful Leader: Advice from Leading Female Entrepreneurs

We asked some of our leading female entrepreneurs to share advice on how they reached their level of success for a four-part blog series. With experiences ranging from the tech sector to recruitment firms to social enterprises, they each shared lessons learned from their unique entrepreneurial journeys.

Today, we asked our leaders: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Zahra Al-Harazi

Be who you are. Be proud of it. Don’t let anyone tell you what and who you need to be in order to succeed. You already know.

With a no-holds-barred attitude, Zahra Al-Harazi helps people and organizations realize their potential for success, drawing on her experience as a pioneering woman in the business world with a unique approach to attitude, leadership, and success.

Erin Bury

The best thing I did before I launched my own business was to work for a strong entrepreneur to learn more about starting your own business. The media glamorizes being an entrepreneur, but the truth is it’s a lonely gig, there’s a ton of pressure to succeed, and there are high highs, and low lows. Working within a startup environment can help expose you to the inner workings of a company, and working alongside the founder also shows you the complete dedication and passion they have for their business. My advice is work within a startup environment before taking the leap yourself.

Named one of Marketing Magazine’s “Top 30 Under 30”, Erin Bury is a marketer, former technology journalist, and startup enthusiast who shares the ins-and-outs of entrepreneurship, marketing to millennials, creating a killer personal brand, and how to harness the latest digital trends.

Mandy Gilbert

You may be waiting for the perfect business plan, the perfect partner, the perfect timing. But there is never a perfect point to start a business. The hardest part is beginning. It can be an incredibly scary and daunting risk, but think about what your 80-year old self would say. Do you want to look back with regret, or admire the risk you took?

If you have a solid plan and some start-up capital, go for it. If not, try a side hustle to develop your idea further and strengthen your entrepreneurial muscle. Whatever and whenever you decide to take the leap, remember that all successful businesses started from one idea, and there’s no reason you can’t be one of them.

Having successfully built two international businesses from the ground up, Mandy Gilbert speaks on entrepreneurship, leadership, culture, talent, and building a professional brand, all grounded by her own journey from a “one woman show” to founder of multi-million-dollar enterprises.

Nilofer Merchant | Former Tech Executive | Bestselling Author

Claim your onlyness. Each of us — each of you — stands in a spot in the world in which ONLY we stand in. It’s a function of our history and experience, visions and hopes. Onlyness.

Yes, it’s a newish word, because we need one. Think about the language we use to describe originality — different, left-field, unique. Even when meant positively, those terms only compare us with those who ALREADY have power.

Onlyness means each of us has a place of power that is distinctly our own. It is the source from which we add value to the world and are compared to no one.

For example, I am an immigrant. I was born into a very traditional household. English is not my first language, which means I sometimes use the wrong word in speeches, and I didn’t go to notable schools. When it comes to traditional power, all that makes me an “other”, and an “outsider”.

But, when centered correctly, the value of these things changes.

  • Being expected to enter an arranged marriage makes me acutely aware of how social norms shape power (or lack thereof).
  • With English being my fourth language, I keenly notice how words shape the way we see the world.
  • Having spent 12 years juggling higher education with working — and zero years in the Ivy League — I know that good ideas can come from anywhere.

What I once hid in order to be accepted by my peers, I now reveal. Because what makes me an “other” to some is also what informs that power of place that is singularly mine, onlyness. This place of power where only you stand, this is your strength and the starting point from which you can find your people and accomplish big things.

Nilofer Merchant is a master at turning seemingly “wild” ideas into new realities, and showing the rest of us how we can, too. A bestselling author on innovation and collaboration, a TED mainstage speaker, and the recipient of the “Future Thinker Award” from Thinkers 50, Nilofer reveals new ways of connecting our ideas to the world in an era when the potential to make a difference is wide-open.

Barbara Stegemann

Get a mentor and ensure it is someone who inspires you and who believes in you. That someone should also have a vast network that they can call upon to help you. It was my mentor, W. Brett Wilson who introduced me to Farah at Speakers’ Spotlight. I feel very blessed to have such a vast network now in great part because my mentor has shared his world with me.

In her inspiring talks, Barb Stegemann shares her journey from launching her award-winning social enterprise, The 7 Virtues, out of her garage to becoming the first Canadian brand featured in Sephora’s new “Clean at Sephora” space in both Canadian and US stores.

Nicole Verkindt

Getting started is the biggest thing. And then get ready for a long grind! And for females in particular, figure out how your gender may allow you to see things differently in the market, and give you a competitive edge.

Nicole Verkindt is passionate about leveraging the talents of entrepreneurs. Speaking to the importance of disruptive thinking, women’s roles in business, technology, and innovation, Nicole shows audiences how the real key to success is learning how to push past being told “no” over and over again.