We grew up in a society where the term “entrepreneur” is stereotyped as a job for men, where women were not seen as someone who could handle a business…until they were proven wrong. Now that we are in the era of girls growing up as risk takers and wanting to make a name in a variety of industries, it’s time for us to acknowledge that girl bosses do exist. It might not be as easy as it looks, but starting your own business is something we can all do as long as we put our hearts into it.
Most of the time, the drive to be a successful entrepreneur starts by being inspired by other successful entrepreneurs. That’s why we asked girl bosses; Abi Portillo, founder of Serena, a brand of 100% natural, environmentally-friendly, beach and personal care products, Krista Rodriguez, founder of Braveries.ph, a blog and e-commerce site, and Katherine Tsang, Janella Guzman, Frances Matugas, Cai Santos, Ella Sarol, and Leandra Miller, the team behind fashion brand Wunderwear—to tell us the things every girl needs to know about starting their own business!
1. Start a business with purpose.
Before you start, make sure you know your objectives so you won’t end up with something that exists for nothing. Krista says, “Bravery is the quality or state of having or showing mental strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty, and that is something we all do day in and day out. This is why I created Braveries.ph, a space where everyone can share their brave stories without the fear of judgment.” The Wunderwear team adds, “Women empowerment mattered to us, especially as an all-girl group. We wanted to fight for something that mattered to us which was to provide solutions to the everyday problems women face.”
It’s also important to build a business that you're passionate about because doing this would make the outcome more empowering since it’s something you want and know all too well. Abi shares, “I've always been passionate about environmental preservation. I have a very soft spot for the ocean and the creatures in it, among other things. It was very important to me that whatever business I went into would reflect this value.”
2. Self-doubt will always be there.
The fear of failure is something we all have, that’s why most of us tend to back out whenever an opportunity to grow is in front of us. But the Wunderwear team shares, “Our lack of experience and expertise in the industry was daunting, but that only pushed us to work harder and learn faster. We started off with clumsy sketches and numerous failed attempts at prototypes, but that helped us envision more clearly what we wanted the Wunderwear Comfit to be.”
Krista shared that she uses self-doubt as a motivation to keep moving forward. “It took me months before I shared my business on my own social media accounts all because I was afraid of people judging me. I think self-doubt will always be there, but deciding how you’ll deal with it will make the difference.” Abi adds, “At the end of the day, I always go back to the reasons that I started in the first place, with concern for the environment at the center. For as long as there is an opportunity to change people's minds and behaviors with regard to how they generate waste, and their attitude towards the environment, I'll keep going.”
3. You have to believe in your business more than anything.
Whether you like it or not, there will be people who won’t like your ideas. Their words might affect the way you view it, but Krista told us something that helped her to continue: “I believe in Braveries more than anything. I believe that people are brave and they all have brave stories to share. I believe that it’s about time that we have this kind of inspiration, and I believe that these products are elevated everyday essentials that speak to all of us.”
Fall in love with your business, and take care of it like your own child. After all, it is a representation of you, so you have to believe it even when no one else would. Abi says, “I believed so much in my product because my intention for their existence was sincere, it meant so much more to me than making money. I always tell myself that I was just going to be happy with whatever the outcome was going to be.” The Wunderwear team adds, “From concept to customer reviews, the team wholeheartedly believed in the product.” And that’s what really matters the most.
4. Setbacks are bound to happen.
Through this journey, you’re bound to experience a lot of challenges especially in the beginning. Lack of appreciation from suppliers, manufacturers, and peers may even be a never-ending process. But the Wunderwear team says, “In the end, it is what made us stronger as entrepreneurs today. All the challenges we have experienced have only driven us to push for success, and to find solutions to the issues we faced.”
Despite the challenges Abi faced in managing Serena as an entrepreneur with no prior experience, she shares, “What I do have are nerve, a sense of adventure, and some creativity, which I believe are more valuable characteristics of an entrepreneur.” Keep hanging in there and persevere despite all the setbacks. Krista adds, “If I could go back in time to when I started my business, I would tell myself that everything will be okay.”
5. You have to learn to listen to other people.
People will always have something to say about everything you’re doing; there would be supporters and naysayers. But you wouldn’t know which is which until you start listening to them. Some might have valid points that could help you further improve yourself and your business. It’s all about having an open mind and staying humble enough to seek guidance from others. Krista says, “Learn to ask for help and seek advice. Listen, and listen well. There is so much we have yet to learn. Why does this person say that my brand and I will fail? He or she might have a valid point that I can consider. Then I re-evaluate myself and think of action steps.”
Acknowledge that unexpected problems and last-minute issues rising is completely normal, so don’t be easily discouraged by this. If these female entrepreneurs got through it, you absolutely can, too! Owning your brand is key, so take a risk and show the world what you’re all about!
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