Best Business Advice from Female Founders

What’s the best business advice you ever received from a female founder? In honor of Women’s History Month, we spoke to 14 female entrepreneurs about the advice that put their business on the map for success.

From hiring the right people to investing in authentic relationships, check out these tips from female founders to encourage you in your entrepreneurial journey.

1. Have strong contracts.

“The best advice I ever got was from my mentor. It’s so simple, yet it has had an impact in every aspect of my life. She told me to have strong contracts.

At first, I thought, okay so I should get a lawyer for starting my business. It was much deeper than that. While it’s important to protect yourself and your company with strong contracts, it also hits on the fact that we are not going to get what we want unless we demand it in writing. Some of my biggest mistakes in business have come from not heeding this advice. It has also saved me on several occasions both in business and in my personal life.” — Holly Berrigan, Founder, MYSA Natural Wine

2. Systematize everything.

“When I first started my business, a female founder friend of mine told me to systematize everything. She told me to create a repeatable system for everything I do. This allows me to hire someone to do it as soon as I have the cash. She said this frees me up for other bigger tasks. I’ve used that advice from Day 1. It has been the single most important advice for scaling my business.

It just seemed like such an actionable thing. I could try it right from the beginning and free myself up from tedious tasks that could be done by anyone. As a new business owner, it’s hard to know where to begin and this piece of advice helped me focus and move forward.” — Lanai Moliterno, Founder and CEO, Sozy

3. If you’re waiting for permission, you’ll wait forever.

“The best piece of advice I received from a mentor of mine is if you’re waiting for permission, you’ll wait forever. It’s essentially an iteration of the famous Shirley Chisholm quote: ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’

As a woman small business owner, there’s always a tingling of imposter syndrome lurking in the back of your head. It’s almost like we are waiting for someone to tell us we’re good enough, that we’re doing it right, or that we deserve to be here. The women entrepreneurs I know and look up to didn’t ask permission. They just did.

Once I realized that, it was like a switch was turned in my head. I stopped doubting myself. I owned my experience, my knowledge, my expertise. Once you can achieve that confidence, it resonates around you. People can feel that confidence. In turn, they are more likely to trust you and use your business — leading to success.” — Tabitha R. Myers, Esq., Managing Attorney and Owner, Midtown Law

4. You don’t need to be a unicorn to be successful.

“The best advice I’ve received is that you don’t need to become a unicorn company to be considered successful.

This resonates with me because all the female founders and companies that get the attention are these giant ones that get millions in VC funding. Reaching that level can feel like an unattainable goal. It can be discouraging and make you feel like you aren’t successful no matter how much you achieve. In reality, there are tons of small businesses and female founders that are really successful – without having to be on the cover of Forbes.” — Alli Echelman, Founder and Creative Director, Calin New York

5. Hire the right people for the right job.

“The best piece of business advice I received from a female business owner is to outsource the parts of my business that I don’t love or am not an expert at. I learned to not to be afraid to invest in contractors with highly specialized skill sets.

This goes for any part of the business that you and your team don’t have the expertise, is project-based, or does not warrant hiring full-time staff. Hiring the right people for the right job is essential for growth. Just make sure that you do your due diligence with verified referrals or reviews of the services offered.” — Jessica Randhawa, Owner and Head Chef, The Forked Spoon

6. Fortune is made in the follow-up.

“A female founder told me ‘the fortune is made in the follow-up.’

Don’t be afraid to follow up with a person, even if you get rejected. You got an answer and can move on to the next. The process of following up has helped me make more money in my own business. At first, I was afraid because of what the other person might think of me but the more I kept following up, the fear went away. It helped me build confidence in my own abilities.” — Sheena Yap Chan, Keynote Speaker and Coach

7. Focus on brand messaging.

“The number one piece of advice I received from a female founder is to focus on the brand messaging. Tell your story and how your products and services are different from everyone else’s.

I was taught the importance of educating your customer base via emails and acquiring new customers via paid ads. It’s important to nurture the existing customer relationships and talk about your story. When the tough times come, ask your loyal followers and customers for support. If you don’t start now, you will not have a loyal audience that is willing to spend money on your brand or services.

Sharing your story is key to success. When people know you and trust you, they naturally will buy from you and support you.” — Pooneh Ramezani DDS, CEO, Dr. Brite, LLC

8. Ask for help.

“The best pieces of advice that I got in my entrepreneurial journey was to ask for help and that failure is part of the path to success.

For a long time, I was afraid of my idea being stolen. However, when a friend made me reflect on the excuses and barriers that had prevented me from starting on this journey for five years, I started to talk about my ideas openly and to ask for advice. It has been incredible how much people are willing to help or connect you with the next step when you just ask. This has opened doors and made an otherwise nebulous path more clear. Through this, I have met many whose failures have turned out to be their greatest opportunities. It has allowed me to embrace the uncertainty and enjoy the entrepreneurial journey.” — Jessica Lubahn, MD, Founder and CEO, ONDRwear

9. Invest in authentic relationships.

“The best piece of advice I received from a female founder was to be genuine with your intent and invest in authentic relationships.

Be genuine. be authentic. It’s simple, right? Not necessarily. There is an art to achieving those personal connections that last for decades. She perfected it. I watched her open her agency with potential clients banging down her door. Those prospects were purely from her building those relationships throughout the years. Sending birthday cards, remembering colleague spouses’ names, recalling stories she pitched to specific journalists? She takes pride in knowing those details. When she goes to a reporter, it doesn’t feel as if she’s pitching a story. She’s catching up with an old friend. Who doesn’t want to get to that level?

Public relations professionals spend their entire career networking with journalists, colleagues, and industry leaders. Investing in relationship-building has been key to my agency success. Half of my clients are a result of following her advice.” — Moneé Cottman Luckey, Principal, Amplify Public Relations

10. Spend more time on your business than in your business.

“The best piece of advice I ever received from a female founder is to spend more time on my business rather than in my business.

Our most important resource is far and away, time. To that end, we all only have the same 24 hours in a day to be as successful as possible. While it is critically important to be present in your business working on the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities such as responding to customers and creating your product, long term stability will only come by working on your business.

This advice has pushed me to spend more of my time focusing on things like business strategy, partnerships, and community involvement each of which have brought greater levels of success and profitability to my business.” — Blandine Mathieu, Founder, NiceDay

11. Build a network.

“Early in my career I was encouraged to prioritize building a network. Often, this is what gets deprioritized particularly for women who are balancing work, family and other commitments.

Your network can be incredibly powerful. It’s important to connect with people outside of immediate circle and nurture and build your brand. You never know how you’re going to find your next star. There are so many unexpected ways that your network can work for you — whether getting great advice, new insights, inspiration, or tapping into new service providers and employees.” — Beth Gerstein, CEO, Brilliant Earth

12. Narrow your focus.

“The best piece of business advice I’ve received is from Cate Rosales. She shared with me, ‘if you try to serve everybody, you will serve nobody.’

This resonates with me. At the outset, I believed that I needed to provide content and products that would serve a wide audience. But, after hearing this advice I realized that I needed to narrow my focus. I needed to really think about who I wanted to serve and what would help that group of people the most. This helped me to create specific content and products that resonate with my audience. In turn, I was able to stand out and grow a dedicated customer base.” — Kathryn Schwab, Head of Content, Bobbie

13. Success is just beyond our comfort zone.

“As a female founder, I’ve listened to countless hours of business podcasts and I’ve read piles of business books. The best piece of business advice I’ve received came from a fellow female business owner, Lisa Suttora, in the form of a motivational quote: ‘success is just beyond our comfort zone.’

It’s just what I needed to hear to take action. Whether you measure success by sales, followers, or personal mindset, being in unfamiliar territory will allow you and your business to evolve. Now, instead of hiding from fear, I use it as a guidepost to find my next course of action.” — Danielle Jackson, Founder, Celestial Silk

14. Always look forward.

“The greatest piece of advice who actually was my mother-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor and has passed away. She gave me this simple yet brilliant piece of advice: never look back and always look forward.

This has always stayed with me because she was a survivor and had the will to look forward. One should be aware that business cycles will always fluctuate. There will be upswings and downswings. Be prepared for these changes, as they will always come and go.” — Suzanne Sachs, President, Vintage Diamond Ring

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