When you think of women entrepreneur role models, I bet you can only come up with a few: maybe Oprah, Sheryl Sandberg, or Marissa Mayer.
But what about someone who’s not a billionaire? What about women who run a small but thriving solo business?
Entrepreneur and author Jenn Aubert is on a mission to find great female entrepreneur role models, share their stories, and kick off a revolution of women entrepreneurs across the country. In her new book Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready! Set! Launch!, Jenn collects 100+ interviews with entrepreneurs and explains how you can find – and become – an entrepreneur revolutionary. She took the time to answer some of Freelancers Union's questions below:
1. Why are role models so important to women entrepreneurs?
Role models are invaluable. When we see what is possible, we believe it’s possible for ourselves.
As women, we are constantly looking for ways to improve ourselves, our work, our relationships, and how we interact in the world. People misunderstand the notion of “role model” thinking that it is simply copying someone else. I think it is about observing, learning, trying on strategies and seeing if they work. It is about finding ways to better ourselves by learning from the examples of others.
Finding role models is easier than you think once you realize that you don’t need to find everything in one person. If you’re looking to learn how someone integrates their work and family life, you can look to one person. If you want to model someone who has created a tech company while also contributing large sums of money to her favorite charity, you can look to another. There are so many fantastic people to learn from and be inspired by. And the beautiful thing is that with the Internet and people sharing gobs about themselves, it is even easier to find role models.
The real trick is realizing that you’re most likely a role model for someone already. You might approach your work differently if you already knew you were a role model for others, that other people are watching and learning from you. Might you stand a bit taller? Might you be more eager to share your wisdom and insight with others? Would you behave in a different manner? There will always be people a few steps behind you looking for inspiration and guidance. They may even admire you for things you take for granted. But as women we need to stand tall and be comfortable in our own power and guide others on this shared journey.
2. How can women discover (or rediscover) what they love?
I think that is an ongoing, life-long exercise. We need to discover deep down what makes us truly happy, what provides incredible meaning in our lives and what gets us out of bed in the morning. Reflect back on what made you happy as a kid. What does the perfect day look like if you could create it right now? What are you drawn to or find your flow doing?
It may be the love you have for your family, for your clients, for the world. It may be the freedom to be endlessly creative and express yourself in your work. It may be to leave a legacy or to change people’s lives for the better. Whatever it is, you need to find out. Some people meditate, other’s journal. Some people simply sit quietly and ask for the answer. However you unearth it, it’s important to know your bigger why and what truly drives you – this goes for business and for life.
When you peel away the layers and get down to the core, everything will shift because you’re working from a place that is more than just money, fame, status, power or collecting nice things.
3. Talk to us about the challenges of balancing family and work life.
While I was interviewing the women for the book I was frantically trying to find my own balance. I was managing my business and a toddler while interviewing, researching, and writing the book. Trust me, I was asking how others were doing it because I felt like I was drowning.
What I found was there is no one answer to the question, “How do you balance family and work?”. Everyone has their unique ways to integrate the two, knowing that true balance will never happen. That’s the one relief that came out of talking to over a hundred women. That no one really has the answer – the magic bullet – to “having it all.”
The key is to honestly do the best you can, ruthlessly prioritize what you most value and let go of things that just aren’t that important. There are only so many hours each day so honor that time and focus on what is most important to you.
4. What are the three things current women entrepreneurs can learn today to improve their businesses?
Take action. Don’t wait for all the stars to be aligned or to have the perfect plan. Perfection will never come – neither will the ‘right time’ so just get started. Small steps every day will get you a lot farther than you think.
Ask for help. Women are notoriously weak at asking for help. This not only goes for help with business but also asking for help at home. Find a mentor, get an advisor, ask for introductions, and ask for guidance. Hire a housekeeper, bookkeeper, or virtual assistant. Whatever it may be, ask for or hire the help you need earlier rather than later.
It may take longer than you expect. And, that’s OK. This one lesson, especially for a recovering Type A personality, was hard for me to swallow. But time and again I heard this from women and especially women with children. It’s important to go at your own pace and not beat yourself up over things. It’s easy to look around and compare yourself to others and those seemingly overnight successes. But you’ll learn that even the overnight successes are 10 years in the making. You need to just keep going – your 10 years will come.
Jenn Aubert is an author and entrepreneur. Her first book Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready! Set! Launch! (Balboa Press, 2014) explores the mindset, motivation and behaviors of successful female entrepreneurs and the role models in their lives who have influenced them. She currently lives in the Bay Area with her husband and adorable son. You can follow her adventures at: www.jennaubert.com.