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5 Ways To Encourage Female Entrepreneur Friends

Career

Truth: for a long time my family had absolutely no clue that I got paid (In actual money? No way!) for what I do for a living. In fact, I think that a lot of my family members still think that I live in a hole in a wall NYC apartment and am riding the system – even though I make more money than my husband who has a full time salaried job. I am a full time freelance writer and own a blog and left the corporate world back in 2013 to pursue those dreams after being laid off – for the second time.


Taking the plunge into being full time self-employed is hard emotionally and financially and is effing scary. Most people don’t really get what it’s like to start your own business and until it takes off and becomes a well-oiled machine (ahem, putting money in our pockets), the slightest comment can make or break our day.

So if you have a friend who is an entrepreneur and going for a rough time, here’s how to encourage them without pissing them off.

1. Don’t give advice unless we ask.

I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Whenever we’re chatting and you offer advice for a problem that we’re having, I promise, it’s only going to frustrate us more. Just lend your ear.

Just be a sounding board and listen to our struggles, sometimes we just need a pair of ears to ramble on and on to. And most of the time, we need to figure out our answers all on our own.

2. Be there to listen, but don’t pretend to understand.

Listening is one of those most encouraging things for women because it lets us know that we are cared about and that you are honestly interested in what we are doing. But all of that can be quickly tarnished when you pretend to understand that you know our woes – especially if you haven’t actually walked a mile in our shoes. Just be a sounding board and listen to our struggles, sometimes we just need a pair of ears to ramble on and on to. And most of the time, we need to figure out our answers all on our own.

3. Let them know how proud you are of them.

It’s so amazing how far the statement “I’m proud of you” can really go. It is so powerful to hear those words from someone that you look up to in life, especially whenever you might be having a business setback. Take the time to let your entrepreneur friends know that all their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and how much you are in awe of that they accomplished. This will probably be just the inspiration they need to push onward.

4. Treat them to a pedicure.

Or treat them to any equivalent to a pedicure. I had an experience many moons ago whenever I was out with another female entrepreneur friend who was much more seasoned than I was and she wanted to stop and get pedicures together, spur of the moment. At that time, I barely had two pennies to rub together and knew my husband would kill me if I charged it. I told her my situation and she happily treated me to my pedicure that day. Why? She told me that she knew in a couple years from now I would be treating her when we were out together, and she was right.

5. Bail them out.

Whenever your entrepreneur friends fail, (and they will) bail them out. It doesn’t have to be financially bailing them out, sometimes just a visit with wine in hand will do. Bailing them out lets them know that you are on their side and championing them no matter what happens.

3 Min Read
Business

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.