Being an entrepreneur is no easy journey — but it’s even more so for women. It’s no secret that the field of entrepreneurship is largely male-dominated, especially in tech-related startups. However, the future for female entrepreneurs are promising. While not nearly as much as their male counterparts, female entrepreneurs are starting over 1200 businesses a day. If you happen to be one of them, here are some tips that might help in starting and thriving in your entrepreneurial journey:
1. Be brave not perfect: “It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable” — Sara Blakely. Girls are traditionally taught to avoid risk and failure, smile and get straight As, whereas boys are taught to play rough and are habituated to take risks. Additionally, women only apply for a job where they have 100% of the qualifications, whereas the number is much lower for men with only 60%. The best way to practice bravery is to familiarize yourself with rejections and failures. You can try this by: learning something new, asking someone out and constantly putting yourself outside your comfort zone. Be gritty, and think growth mindset instead of fixed minset.
2. Strengthen your vision: “You can’t be what you can’t see” — Marian Wright Edelman. Find a role model, know what you want and do everything you can to get there. Once you know what you want, it gets a lot easier to know who to surround yourself with, and what to learn and do. Action leads to clarity.
3. Don’t let genetics define your narrative: You don’t have to follow societal expectations, especially if they don’t work well in your favor. Your background, race, gender, or sexuality might get people to perceive you in a certain way, but don’t let that stop you! Be conscious of stereotypes and generalizations, but don’t let it discourage you in any way.
4. Surround yourself with the right people: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” — Jim Rohn. With that, don’t spend your time with negative and unsupportive people, rather be around people who challenge you and support you to be your best possible self. Nowadays you can find communities and support groups everywhere — online, in person, through mutual friends, and more. With that said, get help from people and help people as well. There’s no better feeling that being in a supportive community who helps each other succeed.
5. Own who you are: Be unapologetically confident. What may be categorized as feminine traits, such as being graceful and loving, are not drawbacks — they are advantageous in their own ways. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are, but don’t doubt yourself, or judge yourself too harshly.
6. Actually do the work: At the end of the day, being an entrepreneur is getting your business off the ground, creating something viable and making sales. There’s really no substitute for hardwork, so there’s really no better advice than to be a lifelong learner and to work hard and smart. Know how to manage your time and energy.
This blogpost was inspired by the “Dream, Girl!” event on the 14th of April. The incubator where I work in, DUHatch, worked together with the Pratt Masters Program to host a screening of a new documentary, “Dream, Girl!,” which follows the journeys of several women entrepreneurs of all ages, colors, backgrounds and ventures. We invited Tatiana Birgisson, the founder of MATI Energy and Cecilia Polanco, the founder of So Good Pupusas, to be our panelists. Both shared their stories on the challenges of being female entrepreneurs and gave advice on how to tackle these obstacles.
Elena Lie is a sophomore from Indonesia studying Political Science and Economics. She started social enterprises, interned in a tech start-up and worked as a freelance graphic designer. At Duke’s entrepreneurship scene, she’s in the executive board of DUHatch incubator and The Cube selective living group. She is interested in toilet designs and the food and beverages industry.