People love to give unsolicited advice, especially if you are a woman in business—and don’t get us wrong, some advice is good (we all need a little guidance in our lives), but other times, these tidbits are the opposite of helpful (or downright offensive). We asked a few entrepreneurs who are a part of our exclusively female-founded and -operated marketplace, Girlboss Goods, the worst advice they’ve ever received. The overarching lesson here? No one knows your business better than you.
Oma The Label
“When I was in the process of applying for colleges in the U.S., I asked my high school professor to write me a reference. I remember that word for word he wrote, ‘Neumi is an average performer and will achieve nothing more than average.’ I remember being so shocked reading this. He didn’t think I could make it, and if I didn’t have much faith in myself, I would have believed him.
I ended up graduating with honors and starting my own business. When I look at my brand today, I think to myself, ‘Wow, look at what I have created. If this is what average looks like then I will take this over anything, any day.’ I would say to do the best to trust yourself and never let anyone else set standards for what you can and cannot achieve. Sometimes people project or don’t have your vision and foresight. They might be operating from a place where they think they are giving you valuable advice—but please use this as a reminder to be aware of what advice you actually want to use.”
Laura Burget and Connie Lo
Three Ships Beauty
Laura: “‘Never bring on a co-founder.’ I can't imagine not having Connie along for this journey of building Three Ships. There's no doubt in my mind that we wouldn't be where we are today without both of us being at the helm of the business. I've run companies as a solo founder before and I found it super lonely. I thrive in team based environments, and one of the amazing things about having co-founder(s) is that you're able to balance out each others’ strengths/weaknesses.”
Connie: "’Wait to launch your beauty brand until you can find manufacturers, co-packers and a fulfillment center. People won't buy your products unless they're legit.’ Wow, am I glad I didn't listen to that! By starting Three Ships with $4,000 in savings in my tiny apartment kitchen with handmade products, my co-founder and I were able to test and sell our products so much faster. We brought them to farmer's markets and craft fairs to get customer feedback, and iterated our packaging and formulations. If we had waited until we felt fully ready, I'm not sure if we would've ever launched!”
Daniela Angelucci and Michelle Osei-Bonsu
“One of the worst pieces of advice we ever received was to never say ‘no.’ While always saying ‘yes’ means taking on every opportunity that comes your way, it also means saying ‘no’ to ever putting your mental health first. As we’ve grown in our careers, we’ve learned to recognize the power of saying ‘no.’ It meant making room for ourselves in our lives. It also meant giving yourself the time to focus on the projects you currently have on the go, while still having time to focus on the important people in your life. It allowed us to pull away from having our value being centered around performance at work, to how we could be better to ourselves and those around us.”
Written Word Calligraphy
“‘Winners don't quit,’ or just the general sense that we shouldn't ever give up. Over the past decade, I've pivoted my business many times, and in those times I've ‘quit’ certain things, I've only grown my business or grown my product line. It's okay to admit that a path isn't going the best and it's okay to quit it, too. We also learn from those experiences.”
“‘Growth is all that matters, so do it fast.’ As an impact-driven business, we're constantly throttling between creating a positive impact in the world and growing responsibly. There's an innate tension here, even more so as we're creating a new category of compostable clothes, requiring new ways of thinking and doing in the fashion industry (which traditionally is all about fast fast fast).”
"Probably not the worst advice I've received, but when I started MantraBand in 2012, my close family advised me to quit the business idea, and instead get a job in HR."
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