On a lovely evening in San Francisco, this past Monday at the Thumbtack HQ, 75 business-minded women (and a few men too) gathered to hear an incredible panel of women business owners discuss their experiences with launching and growing their microbusinesses. Titled, “You don’t have to be Superwoman to grow and scale your business,” we were there to learn, share and network around how women can overcome the barriers they face in starting their own businesses.
Building off our newly released research on microbusinesses – the panelists, led by Council Member and small business owner herself, Jaime Nack, had built a wide variety of businesses – and shared their inspiring stories of how they took the leap to grow and scale their businesses.
For example, Chantelle Hartshorne, started her own style studio called ChantelleStudio and shared her secrets to success – amazing customer service and high creative standards. Karmi Soder started her business NewboRN Solutions because she noticed a need for new families having a hard time getting specific types of baby care and she started to match practitioners with need. Heidi Gibson started the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen because she loves grilled cheese sandwiches and realized after pouring herself into something she loves that other people loved it too (who doesn’t love a grilled cheese sandwich?!) And finally, also in the delicious department, Wendy Lieu shared her powerful story of starting her business at 19 years old, a risk-taking young person, who had a vision and ultimately quit her job to run Socola Chocolates.
The stories were inspiring, but also honest, about hurdles that you must overcome – asking for that first round of investment or loan, hiring your first employee or taking the leap to follow your dreams at all knowing it might not work out. Chantelle spoke about eating ramen for months at one point! They also had concrete advice and great local resources including the SBA District Office and Renaissance as places to learn how to write contracts, how to write a business plan or how to hire an employee.
While the stories were diverse, the common thread of advice from all the entrepreneurs was that when starting your own business you sometimes have to embrace the unknown and overcome your own fears – ask yourself objectively, “can I really do this?” Usually, you can.