The Voice of Successful Female Entrepreneurs: The Journey & Experiences
International Women’s Day is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights and we have a very special article demonstrating that. All of the quotes below have been given to Contapp by successful female entrepreneurs.
Female entrepreneurship has experienced huge growth and has bought new innovations to the table. The number of businesses owned by women has increased by 114% in the past 20 years. It’s incredible to see this flourish in recent years.
Female entrepreneurs represent the fastest-growing category of entrepreneurship worldwide. There is no doubt in saying that women are essential to the economy.
“At Contapp, we encourage and support all paths of entrepreneurship. It’s an exciting journey that requires hard work, ambition and resilience. Empowering female entrepreneurs is not only the ‘right thing’ to do but it is also the ‘smart thing’ to do for every country & industry.“Giuseppe Milazzo, Founder & CEO @ Contapp
We speak to some incredible females who are part of this success. They voice their personal experience of female entrepreneurship to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Michelle Griffin – Founder @ BRANDthority.com
As a personal brand and visibility strategist, many of my clients are women entrepreneurs who’re ready to be more visible in their field. I’m honoured especially to help smart women be visible, vocal, and valuable in creating a platform to help their clients.
As more and more women enter into entrepreneurship, I want to see them be THE brand, not the women-led brand. A well-defined and differentiated personal brand is one of the best avenues for strong and mission-led women to rise above the noise and be visible and valuable as exactly who they are.
Christine Michaelis – Marketing & Creative Start-Up Coach @ Creative Start-up Academy
In my almost 10-year-journey as a female entrepreneur, I have come across a lot of entrepreneurs from different countries, backgrounds, industries & personalities. For sure I could feel in some countries that it is more difficult to be seen as equal compared to men. But with knowledge and precision, I could change this attitude.
From working within the start-up scene across the world, I have to say that, in some countries, it is still more difficult for female entrepreneurs to be taken as seriously as men and get investment. I can also say that it has changed a lot over the past 10 years and there are more female entrepreneurs, companies and investors etc, that focus on female entrepreneurship.
I would like to encourage everyone to keep going – the start-up journey is long and asks for a lot of patience – this is for men and women.
Laura Yeo – Founder @ Young Entrepreneurs of England
The journey of becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t “just happen.” You have to make it happen. My own curiosity and drive over the years, from my first side-hobby fashion business to my small agency business, to my project management business, were all discarded breadcrumbs leading me to be the successful entrepreneur I am today.
Having owned my own business for more than 6 years, I’ve come to realise one of the most common struggles we women entrepreneurs display when it comes to embracing leadership is hesitation. Hesitation to take the leap, hesitation to speak up, hesitation to leave our mark on the world.
The quote ‘empowered women empower women’ rings true in my everyday life, seeing other women start, try, fail, retry, and succeed is what drives me to continue on the road of entrepreneurship.
Now more than ever, this is the time to stand up. To recognise your worth and the gifts that you bring to the table. The world needs more examples of women who are ready to dive in and take charge, and it starts right now with you. Let go of that hesitation, so you can step into your leadership with confidence and make the impact you desire.
Rosalia Lazzara – Co-founder @ The Content Hive
The journey is not the same for all people. I am experiencing this journey of entrepreneurism as a young woman. These two labels are important is because we know that today these features still get used against us.
I’ve been silenced and told to “tone down” because I am “too much” “too confident”. My age has been used against me. “I am older than you so, therefore, I must know more than you”. An entrepreneur rises above this and focuses on talent.
I started my first business when I was 10. By 30, I was well into my corporate career in financial services and was living a high life. Due to the pandemic, I was redundant and jobless. Everything I worked hard to achieve was gone. By the time it was my 31st birthday, I had two Ltd companies and a higher income than I was earning at the bank.
Today I am an advocate for the underrepresentation of women in finance and senior women in the workplace and in general. I am an advocate for social media safety. I am an advocate for bringing more financial education into schools and universities.
Zoë Share – Founder @ The Brand Voice Mag
I started my first company at 25 years old. As a young woman with no prior business experience, I have learned a lot about valuing myself and my time. When I became a parent, I became even more clear on how I wanted to be treated, who I wanted to surround myself with and how intentional I want to be about my journey.
My tip to other female entrepreneurs (and entrepreneurs in general) is to look carefully at your clients, employees and numbers and ask yourself: are these people aligned with my goals and values? Are the profit margins being produced aligned with my goals and value? To me, these are game-changing questions.
Pauline Kwasniak – Marketing Manager & CEO
When I was growing up I was convinced we were all equal; men and women. In secondary school, I observed that boys were encouraged to be bold, adventurous and risk-taking. At the same time, however, we girls were told to be polite and feminine.
In the business world as a startup founder, I definitely saw this division carried through into the business world. I was the only female in my tech accelerator cohort in Ireland in 2018, and felt that I had to prove myself twice as hard – as a female and an immigrant.
That is why for me personally as an activist and speaker, it is key to start talking about women’s entrepreneurship from a very young age and change our education system to inspire and empower girls to become whoever they want to be: not just polite and feminine.
Anush Mnatsakanyan – Co-founder & CEO @ Burnwe
The difficulties are not because men don’t take us seriously, but it’s about managing to be a woman and an entrepreneur at the same time.
Using your time wisely is one of the major struggles we face as women. We need to manage our personal and business needs efficiently, whilst being equally energetic and enthusiastic in both places.
One of the factors that made me continue my business journey to success is self-belief. If you have faith in yourself, you can make others believe in your services and products.
I’m not afraid to seek out support. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak; asking for other peoples’ ideas and input is critical to future-proof your business. Don’t be ashamed to ask for directions.
Finally, less emotion and more action. Do not overthink; just do it. Sometimes that’s what we need.
Kelly West – Co-founder @ ONLE Networking
Being a woman in business for me has been an incredible journey. Starting my career in the corporate world and then moved on to create my own businesses alongside my husband and business partner.
I realise the challenges that women entrepreneurs face and personally understand how hard it can be to juggle the many facets of life and work. I also recognise that as we move through time and the world evolves, these challenges equally affect male entrepreneurs in similar positions.
My hope is that as more awareness around these challenges is brought to light, the whole next generation of women in business will benefit from the support and equal space of men in business.
Gaynor Matthews – Co-founder @ myNexus
We know that female entrepreneurship contributes to the UK Economy and with more help & support becoming available, I think there is no better time for women to follow their dreams.
However, being a female entrepreneur is not without its challenges, especially around funding, female entrepreneurs are no different to male entrepreneurs and yet we are treated differently when it comes to money. This is because of the inherent bias in an outdated process and something we’re determined to change at myNexus.
Georgina (Smyth) Bowman – Founder @ Myshoots
I have been working on Myshoots for two years and can say it is very hard. I think I’ve made it harder for myself as not only am I a female founder looking for investment (where only 2% of females get funded). The industry I’m trying to get the app into is also very male-dominated, as is the tech industry.
However, I have passion, mission and determination. Plus, I don’t want to be tagged. I accept I have to work it harder to be accepted, compared to a male founder in this space. I have won £30K of government grant funding to date which shows the idea is validated and I have a customer-insight survey to back the validation.
It’s great having West London Shooting School as the pilot for the MVP which demonstrates to investors that this industry needs modernising. It is a long road to get to solve a problem that many have told me needs solving.
Nargis Jafferali – Co-founder @ Blazon
In my opinion, it’s never been a better time to be a founder and have the honour of working in ‘startup land’. There’s a wealth of opportunity (if you look hard enough!) and such an increasing global appetite for innovation and industry disruption. It takes a courageous and charismatic personality, to break down the barriers and grow a successful new business.
It’s no secret that plenty of women in the business face a unique set of challenges that their male counterparts. Whether it’s securing investment, juggling family life, or simply breaking stereotypes to push through, there are some (not all) women that face adversity and just have to work that extra bit harder.
Gender equality needs to be solved, and I believe that starts with awareness, education and just more people using their platform to talk about the change that needs to happen. But, ultimately, the results speak louder.
When more strong, inspiring women step forward to demonstrate their abilities, show off their industry prowess, and reap the rewards with their incredible startups – the world will listen!
Tina Marker – CEO @ Windward Design Group LLC
After learning the ropes of entrepreneurship the past 14 years, the best advice I can give to newcomers and those already in the trenches is to build relationships, especially with other business women.
Find a vibrant women’s networking group in your locale (or start one!) and get active. Support each other and lift each other up. Ensure your business and brand are on point. Always live up to the promise of your brand. The rewards of word-of-mouth marketing via this approach will be worth your efforts!
Jacqui Patton – Managing Director @ Ink Blot Creative Limited
To be a successful entrepreneur you need to be confident, creative, a risk-taker and someone who can create a team that can bring your vision to life. None of these attributes is determined by gender, but opening doors to these opportunities are often more difficult for women and non-binary people.
Only 13.5% of the executive director positions in FTSE 100 companies were held by women in 2021. We have a long way to go before the power balance in the working world is equal and inclusive.
But the joys of being an entrepreneur is that we have the power to make these changes in our own businesses, and open doors for others that might not have been easy for us to walk through.
Karen Melonie Gould – Founder @ Gateway2enterprise
Female Entrepreneurship has come a long way since I was pitching for equity 20 years ago, although we still have a long way to go. Yes, there are now female-led funds, angel groups and angel investors in the space.
However, the ecosystem for Women Entrepreneurs is nothing like it is in New York City. London has a long way to go!
Giselle Naimi – Founder @ Buzz Social
Growing up, I had two passions in life. One was the desire to become a lawyer. The other option was to become an entrepreneur. Choosing an entrepreneurial career was not an easy one. While entrepreneurship has been challenging, one of the best perks of being an entrepreneur is managing your own schedule and being flexible in your projects.
As a working mother, I needed the flexibility to be there for my little one while also pursuing a career in which I could thrive. After 8 years in various marketing roles, I founded Buzz Social, a marketing consultancy that specialises in helping small businesses and start-ups thrive through cost-effective and no-fluff digital marketing.
As a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry, I am constantly being challenged by unconscious gender bias. Fortunately, I can navigate and shift the conversation so that it includes my ability to lead in a marketing role.
I hope to break the bias and encourage other women to be bolder and more vocal in the pursuit of their dream careers. I couldn’t be more proud of the woman I’ve become as a result of my entrepreneurial journey!
Supporting All Entrepreneurs on Our Startup Journey
We all have different experiences of entrepreneurship. We’re in full support of everything mentioned by the successful entrepreneurs above, working towards turning a startup into a global name.
One of the best tools to do this? Creating a powerful product and building a supportive community. Something Contapp works on daily.