According to Entrepreneur.com, women own 10.6 million businesses in the United States and they employ 19.1 million workers (that’s one in every seven employees). Female businesses account for $2.5 trillion in sales! Still, with all the strides being made on the financial front over the last twenty years, females still deal with some of the same age old drawbacks in the workplace; mainly at the hands of each other. Best-selling author Cara Leyba speaks to this dynamic in her book GIRLCODE: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur.
“Most women entering entrepreneurship feel very alone. You feel a lot of negative energy from other women and there is an underlying sense of competitiveness that says if she has achieved success, that means I cannot,” Leyba explains. Her book was created to combat the sense of isolation many women feel when embarking on the journey to entrepreneurship. “I want women to know that they aren’t alone,” she says. “Don’t compete: collaborate. Another woman’s success isn’t your failure.”
With femmepreneurs image is key to establishing and maintaining a brand. “Branding ties into everything; it’s an all encompassing lifestyle. I have learned about branding through my own experiences. The more I embrace it, the more it works. I promote having a champagne life which is having the best of everything. It shows up in every choice I make when it comes to image,” she says.
Fellow author Amber Bryant (Motherfunders, BRAVO) echoed Leyba’s thoughts. “The name of my brand is Stiletto Mom. What we wear tells people who we are. When a woman puts on a pair of stilettos, it gives her a certain attitude. When I look good, I feel good and that’s the energy I put off,” Bryant says. “When women become mother’s it’s instinctive to put others first. Our club Stiletto Mom is about regaining ‘you’ and letting go of the mom guilt to reclaim your identity. Get out a pair of your baddest stilettos and strut! Lose the fear.”
The business landscape is changing and more often than not the idea of what business looks like is becoming more diverse. Denying one’s femininity is not a prerequisite for business owners the way it was decades ago for women entering the workplace. Bryant believes her fellow femmepreneurs are better off bringing their individuality to their business even if it doesn’t work on the first try. She says, “There are boundaries but being transparent is what connects people with you. I had to learn to drawback and be specific about my words and how I’ve handled things. Don’t beat yourself up about your mistakes. People see through the fake.”