Let’s Talk: International Women’s Day Edition – Strategies to become a successful female entrepreneur

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In celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8th), we gathered a number of women in business to discuss what strategies they have implemented to become successful female entrepreneurs.

Let’s talk

Jenny Robb, Owner/Operator, Kiah Wilderness

Start with thorough planning, and keep reviewing the plan so it’s always as ‘right’ as it can be.

Pay attention to detail – in the tourism business it’s the little things that are the most memorable so consider every type of customer, every scenario and try to pre-empt their needs. The best guest comment I hear is “you’ve thought of everything”. Always under-promise and over-deliver: a guest’s delight and surprise about the experience you offer is extremely rewarding.

Enjoy what you do, or get out of the game. If you don’t love your work, it will show in the end product. If you do love it, it will flow through and the customer will feel it – and they will become your brand ambassadors and return visitors.

Be ready to deliver quality – every time – even when you’re not feeling 100%. In our game, every single tour has to be excellent, especially in the digital world where great reviews are crucial.

Laura Bradley, Head of Business Development, Gallagher Bassett

My advice is to be brave enough to take risks and recognise opportunities when they are presented – don’t let yourself be confined to traditional career pathways; seek out experiences and opportunities to learn something new that challenges you.

In following this advice, I’ve chased opportunities and put my hand up for projects I probably wasn’t ready for but was deeply passionate about. As women, this is often something we don’t do due to the “unentitled mindset” – stopping us from applying for roles because of fear or uncertainty about our abilities, even when we’re more than capable. So, my advice is, be conscious of this, remember that you belong here, you are qualified enough, you have value to offer and you can take up space. Jump in!

And another key piece of advice – surround yourself with other successful women – and when you become successful, advocate for and support other women around you.

Anthea Hammon, Managing Director, Scenic World

As the leader of a third-generation family owned business, I have been fortunate to grow up surrounded by entrepreneurial role models. My grandpa’s vision and my dad’s tenacity paved the way for Scenic World’s success, which is now the most visited privately owned tourism attraction in Australia.

The most powerful strategy I’ve embraced to enable success is to accept professional opportunities that push me outside my comfort zone. From speaking at industry conferences, accepting board positions I never imagined possible, and advocating on behalf of the tourism industry, I have made it part of my mission to say ‘yes’.

I firmly believe we grow the most when we challenge ourselves to learn, apply those learnings, and then review, reflect, adapt and change. I wouldn’t be the leader I am today without embracing opportunities that facilitate further growth.

Sarah Neill, Founder & CEO, Mys Tyler

Earlier in my career I was an intrapreneur. I was content in this role, it allowed me to execute upon ideas where I’d felt we could deliver a better product or solution than previously existed. I had supportive managers who trusted my instincts, and all was well. Then I pitched another idea and instead of receiving permission to build this product, I received $1m and permission to build a company. That company was Doodad, and that experience taught me that I could be an entrepreneur, I could be a CEO, and realised I wasn’t too bad at it.

As women, we tend to focus on what we KNOW we can do, rather than what we THINK we could do. We settle too easily, and we let others take the credit. Not everyone will have someone give them this push, so let me try: You can do it, you are more than capable, you will figure it out. It’s this mentality that has helped me continue on the path to being a successful entrepreneur.

Kate Save, CEO and Founder, Be Fit Food

Remaining true to the vision. It’s tempting to be persuaded by opportunities, trends and societal pressures – but you must evaluate everything critically to ensure it aligns with your vision and what you’re trying to achieve before pursuing it. During COVID most people weren’t interested in health change, they were reaching for comfort foods and on-demand delivery, but we weren’t willing to do anything that didn’t aid our mission of seeing Australians eat themselves to better health – because that would be inauthentic. We will see the fruit of this integrity because when people are looking for health change, we will be here. 

The same strategy must apply to who you hire. It’s imperative that every person on the team is on board with the vision, and is making decisions in line with it. This is important when it comes to partnerships too. In 2020 we became the first meal provider in Australia to be officially endorsed by the CSIRO, a title we had been working towards for over three years, and that wouldn’t have ever happened if we had swayed from our vision in the years prior for a quick win, or in pursuit of a dollar. Now we’re well and truly on the path to achieving our vision as a business, and it’s all because we were willing to stick to it no matter the cost.

Philomena Kwok, Founder, Bloombox Co

As an entrepreneur, advice comes at you from all angles. Take all that you can get. Seek it out. Even when it’s conflicting and overwhelming and just TOO much. Then, get it out of your head, park it to synthesise and refer to in your own time. 

I keep a spreadsheet to log all the advice I get and refer to it – particularly when I’m in a rut. It helps me give rigour to decision making and even helps prioritise what to tackle next.

Tapping into perspectives of people who are even just one step ahead of you helps you stay on top of the game! One of the best things I did before giving birth was reaching out to new mum entrepreneurs in my network for the practical advice to navigate what I knew was going to be a real challenge as a solo founder. It’s one of the real reasons why we’ve kept the lights on and are thriving now.

Kim Evans, Founder, Lux Brows & Lashes

My most powerful strategy has been to stay true to myself. I think it can be easy for people trying to establish themselves in an industry to try to follow in someone else’s footsteps, or to strive towards a particular style or way of working because it has worked successfully for others in the past. I’ve always embraced my own style and that has led me to finding my niche in the brow market. As my business grew, I found clients were not just wanting fabulous brows, it was also very much about the ‘Lux experience’ and how the client felt when they completed the service.

Implementing a truly unique a personalised service to clients has continued to see us become leaders in this space. If last year taught me anything, it’s that being adaptable and staying true to yourself can get you through the toughest of moments.

Esme Borgelt, Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand Company, Kellogg Australia

I believe the most powerful thing anyone can do for themselves is to surround themselves with diverse
and open-minded people – those colleagues and friends who lift each other up, who challenge each
other to grow and develop in both their personal and professional lives. Doing this has provided me
with the ability to stay energised, to be continually inspired, to be hungry and focused on achieving the
goals I set for myself and for Kellogg.

I am so proud to work for a company that really focuses on helping its people to be their best with great
mentors and leaders all around the business. We’re also a company that champions diversity, inclusion
and equality, with a strong focus on accelerating our gender equity across all areas of the business.
To help achieve our focus on equal female representation across the business, we have a global
Employee Resource Group called Women of Kellogg (WOK) with chapters in every Kellogg region and
country. WOK is committed to inspiring and enabling women in the workplace – it is the driving force on
initiatives delivering on our gender equality targets around recruitment, retention and promotion of
women. Our vision is to create a gender balanced workforce where everyone has the opportunity to
thrive.

Beyond women, I believe that diversity across gender, culture, generations, and experiences make us
stronger, and is a key reason for our business success over the past 100 years.

Ann Wilde, Founder, Master Pilates

The most powerful strategy I’ve implemented for Master Pilates has been my prioritisation of two key things always – communication and customer service.

Communication has always been a top priority for me and I try to be both a proactive communicator and a good listener at all times. I have also sought out, and benefitted from the advice of mentors along the way, and have remained committed to creating positive change in my business. This has meant that Master Pilates is on a course of continuous improvement.

My commitment to customer service excellence has always run strong and word of mouth marketing is responsible for our client numbers today. From the get-go, I made sure that our product was authentic with my employment of only highly skilled instructors. I also set out to create a community that clients would feel a strong connection to, and created a beautiful studio atmosphere that represents a place a wellness for all who visit. 

Azadeh Williams, Founder, Managing Partner, AZK Media

I started AZK Media only four years ago, following a 15-year career as a global journalist, and it has grown tenfold in revenue and serviced some of the world’s largest brands. This is despite the heavily male-dominated B2B technology and business landscape, the perils of the pandemic and the vastly dynamic nature of our client needs in today’s digital and data-driven environment.

One of the most powerful strategies I implemented to reach what I defined as ‘success’ was to invest in our own company’s talent pool. I realised delegation and collaboration were both critical to scaling our business. By investing in people, a company not only has the premium resources and capability to deliver the best value for our clients, but it can also collaborate together and function like a ‘well-oiled machine’ to be a productive, happy and thriving business.


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By Guillermo Troncoso

Guillermo is the Editor of Dynamic Business and Manager of film & television entertainment site ScreenRealm.com. Follow him on Twitter.