…drumming her fingers on her desk, Molly needs to decide to either continue using SalesForce as her CRM or make a move to use HubSpot… which one? The internet comparison tools don’t answer her specific questions; she wished she could bounce ideas to people who understood her predicament. In Aisha’s case, she ran a spa business from home but couldn’t keep up with all of the appointments because she was communicating with her customers on multiple platforms, leaving her overwhelmed. Who could Molly or Aisha turn to for advice? Google?

Needing support isn’t a sign of weakness.

Building your business isn’t an easy feat for anyone, and specifically for the women entrepreneur, the climb is a little more challenging. I have found this especially true in the rise to the summit; it’s a lonely journey. Lonely in that not having the support to bounce ideas off, not knowing the answers to the questions lurking in my head, and sometimes lacking the knowledge of tech, finance, taxes, marketing, or business questions.  

Also, family members don’t understand an entrepreneur’s life and the questions and doubts we go through in our quest to “make-it-happen.”

The internet has tons of answers, but I always ask how this solution applies to my situation. I wish I could speak to someone who understands my predicament; it would yield a better result. And, probably a more economical one too.

Doing things together is just better.

By putting ego and pride aside, I learned that being in the company of like-minded women and those who had walked the path before significantly increased my chances of success. 

In doing so, I was able to make better decisions and faster. And it’s so much better for the mind and body. Sharing the ups and downs and bouncing ideas off of a trusted group of women who shared this journey brings so much relief. And the excitement of being an entrepreneur doesn’t get old, or that burnout feeling lessens significantly.

I wished that back in the day was that someone reminded me to ask for help when I needed it. When it became unbearable and when I got stuck. It would have saved me so much time, like literally tons of time.

Another benefit is when we help others, we also help ourselves. There is a famous saying about raising a child takes a whole community.  

A business is like a child. It takes a community to build a successful one.

#bettertogether

Raise your hand. It’s ok. 

Breath and remember you are a remarkable human being. You have talents, passions, and gifts that are all unique to you. Yeah, there is only ONE of you in this world. And you drive and gift that your business brings to the world is needed! However, doing so doesn’t mean you don’t need a little support, help, or mentoring. The benefits of doing it together outweigh trying to hustle by yourself.

As women in business, we should always seek out new opportunities to learn. Why not learn from women who have gone through the process before you? These women have failed and succeeded, and often I find that they have failed many times and somehow have found the will to get back up again. By the time I have the opportunity to speak with them, they have finally found success and have many words of wisdom.

Going solo doesn’t mean being alone.

Being a hijabi with an MBA and was in the throes of the internet when it first started, in 1998 that I got my first tech job at AOL. And throughout my career, I found myself always in a male-dominated environment. I saw the inequalities and lack of diversity in the field led me to start a business that catered to Muslim women.

It was my first startup. I went at it alone and found myself finding very little success and being young, and I lacked focus and self-awareness. Had I had a mentor, I would have seen that my team turned on me, and I couldn’t heed or met the market needs. Needless to say, that business died a lackluster death.

You’ll hear similar accounts from other female founders, many of whom feel shut out of more traditional mentors and entrepreneurs’ networks.

For example, Polly started a woman wellness company Unbound; she struggled to find her place among male-dominated tech entrepreneur circles. “It was hard to be taken seriously in general because of the products that we were selling,” Rodriguez says. Also, she grew up in the Midwest from a lower-middle-class background-so; no one in her life had started a business before.  

So rather than going at it alone, she turned to some of the enclaves for women founders in New York. “I think that’s how I ended up building a massive network of female founders,” she says. “I absolutely would not be here today if I didn’t have them to turn to.”

It was the same for me. I found it profoundly different when I learned, connected, and was with other entrepreneurs that looked like me and shared the same values.

Birds of a feather might fly better together.

Imagine women in business as an influential band of advocates, collaborators, and allies. Imagine women entrepreneurs who know how to leverage their innate strength, overcome barriers, and build relationships that drive growth in their businesses and careers. 

Male networking is a given — golf, squash, attending sporting events — while cliché, these are business-building that build incredible opportunities. 

By contrast, women pride themselves on multi-tasking but fail to build into their schedules the networking opportunities men take for granted. The truth is that networking influences the growth of a business. However, being a single female entity in a male-dominated room can, on occasion, be uncomfortable and doesn’t always yield positive business growth.

When women network with other women, these problems decrease exponentially. It is essential to be creative in networking. For example, I have brought together women entrepreneurs and friends for warm homemade cinnamon rolls to my home for years. It has been productive, comfortable, and good for my creative and mental well-being. 

Shared interests among women provide mutual respect and invaluable sounding boards. Spending this time with these women has given me tremendous business insight to develop my business continuously.

Had it not been through these meetings, I wouldn’t have Noorbiz today.

Connect and grow.

So, asking for help and seeking support is not a sign of failure. It’s a sign of strength and maturity.  The benefits of joining a group outweigh going on your entrepreneur journey alone.  

There are many types of groups out there. Free or paid.  I have found paid groups to have more impact on helping me move forward in my business.

However, before choosing, it’s essential to self reflect what your needs are and what you want to achieve from joining a group or hiring a mentor. 

Consider reflecting on the leaders of that group, their affiliations, their background. Also, consider who are the members of that group and how those members will serve you and your business.  

Often, we tend to look at popularity and size and the string of successes by unicorn, fortune 500 companies that they have served.  Big and popular is all well and great, but how will that suit you, a startup, a diverse women entrepreneur, a mom, or a woman looking to transition out of a corporate career.   The large groups might not give you the attention you need at this stage of your entrepreneurship journey.

Noorbiz is a membership that serves diverse women entrepreneurs to achieve their goals practically and sustainably.  As diverse women entrepreneurs and professionals ourselves, we understand your unique challenges and have trodden that path before you.   We believe in personalized attention, and we know that you can do it.  

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