Top start-up lessons we can learn from female founders

In celebration of International Women's Day, Climb Online's Lyndsay Morgan imparts advice from awe-inspiring female entrepreneurs....

For start-ups, advice and guidance from experienced professionals can be integral for development.

Whether provided by a mentor or relayed in a motivational talk, their words of wisdom can help shape and define how you work and engage with like-minded professionals.


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In fact, I would go as far as to say that the advice of inspirational leaders can help determine your future, by providing you with the drive you need to just keep going in order to succeed.

Not convinced? Here are some top business lessons to be learnt from four of the world’s renowned female leaders…

Michelle Obama: ‘Find people who will make you better’

When developing a business, so many start-ups work in isolation. Whether that’s as a result of not knowing who to reach out to or engage with, working from a home environment or simply the sense of pride in self-achievement.

However, with isolation comes limitation, and as Michelle Obama has so clearly stated, there’s a real benefit in finding like-minded people who will ‘make you better’, who will support you on your journey and will help you grow and develop as an entrepreneur and business leader.

Ever heard of the saying ‘Birds of a feather flock together’…? Well, this is it in practice. The haters will only drag you down.

Sheryl Sandberg: ‘Option A is not available. So, let’s just kick the s**t out of option B.’

When Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, was grieving for her late husband, she, with the support of her close friends, developed an inspirational motto.

One that not only helped her move forwards with strength, but one that can be applied to every walk of life, and particularly in business. This motto is explained below:

Let’s be honest, we all want option A: To create a business that hits the ground running from the outset, to experience an influx of new customers, to secure new sales and to grow year on year. We don’t want to lose staff members, or have to face difficult business defining decisions.

But sometimes, and particularly in the world of business, Option A just isn’t available, let alone possible – and it’s finding the strength, determination and deliverance to kick the s**t out of option B that will define us as people, and as business leaders.

Sara Blakely: ‘Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.’

As founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely has done more than her fair share to help women – and for many, her powerful words of advice are just as appreciated as her products.

The fear of the unknown can be paralysing. Paralysing for team members too unnerved to put forward a suggestion in case it’s wrong and undermined, paralysing for the developing entrepreneur desperate to break free from nine to five, and paralysing for the start-up, concerned about going in head first without any prior experience in running a business.

But Blakely couldn’t be more right. All business sectors need USPs, they need vibrance and they need difference.

Don’t let your fear of the unknown prevent you from following your career goals and aspirations, and use Sara’s golden nugget of inspiration to embrace your difference and run with it.

As in the end, we only regret the chances or opportunities that we didn’t take.

Arianna Huffington: ‘We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.’

In 2009, Ariana Huffington was positioned as number 12 on Forbes’ first ever ‘most influential women in media’ list. Two years later AOL acquired Huffington Post for a massive $315m.

Despite Huffington’s accolades, she is not one to refuse responsibility for mistakes. In fact, she does quite the opposite and often retells of her experience in suffering with exhaustion as a result of working 18 hour days.

Following a horrific health scare, Huffington understood what she needed to change, what she had done wrong and, as a result, learnt to adapt to a healthier work/life balance.

In business, and particularly when starting out in business, mistakes are inevitable. From making the wrong decisions to, well, screwing up royally – there’s no escaping it. However, it’s what you do next that really counts.

Instead of dwelling on negativity, learn from where you went wrong and think of every mistake as an opportunity to progress.

As people we learn, develop and change all the time, and in business we cannot control every.single.thing that happens to us, no matter how much we would want to. Accepting this, and failure in its entirety, will be key for development as an entrepreneur and for driving your business forwards.

Lyndsay Morgan is head of operations at Climb Online, the digital marketing agency founded by Apprentice winner Mark Wright and developed in partnership with Lord Sugar.

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