Today on International Women's Day, YouInc sits down with five women entrepreneurs to reflect on success: what it means to each of them, and the challenges, proud moments, and responsibilities that come with boosting the social and economical viability of our communities and cities:
A Believer in Bees: Aja Horsley, Drizzle Honey
Calgary-based Drizzle Honey, a District Ventures backed-company, makes products that help keep the beekeeping industry in Alberta buzzing. Drizzle Honey has sold more than 3,000 kilograms of honey produced by 20 beekeepers.
Success is having work that is creative, makes an impact for the benefit of others and financially for myself, and allows me to make decisions on my own terms.
Her biggest challenge in her work: I struggle with the unknown. If I don't know the answer or the outcome it causes me anxiety. I've had to take huge steps this year to try to overcome these feelings as the owner of a startup and knowing the risks involved. Patience (growing a business takes time), acceptance of the constant ups and downs, and a partner that is beyond his years in mindfulness, have all been helpful with this.
Her proudest moment in building a business: I've worked to produce something that is the highest quality, and of benefit to other people, like the beekeepers I work with, the honey industry and other Canadian small businesses that help supply my packaging.
How she keeps accountable to her goals: Daily lists and scheduling; weekly planning sessions where I step back to look at the bigger picture and make sure my smaller tasks are aligning to the bigger goals. Taking down time is also really important to clear my brain, check in with myself and make sure I'm not getting caught up in activities and thoughts that don't align with my goals.
Raising Up Indigenous Youth: Gabrielle Fayant, Assembly of Seven Generations (A7G)
Ottawa-based A7G's local program, ReachUp! North, uses tech and entrepreneurship to help Indigenous youth develop leadership skills to create community change. Its recent graduates have helped plan and organize events, promote a fashion line, and launch a catering company.
Success is when reconciliation and restitution can occur in Canada. Indigenous peoples are often not given opportunities to succeed the same way most Canadians are. Things that most Canadians take for granted like access to meals and shelter, a clean home, clothes and even water, are just a few things that prevent Indigenous youth from being able to feel good about themselves. Success is happiness. My happiness is dependent on the overall happiness of my community, my peers, my family and my mentors.
The biggest challenge in her work: Being overwhelmed and overworked without enough capacity and resources to combat the reactive and urgent issues; and being able to be proactive and to think strategically about growth and the future.
Her proudest moment in building a business: I'm proud of the amount of lives we have been able to change, and the young lives that have been inspired or encouraged by being a part of a community network.
How she keeps accountable to her goals: Creating a list of goals. When there's so much that needs to be done it can be easy to get lost in the bigger picture. I ask myself, What can I do? And what do I need help with? Can I actually accomplish this or are there smaller steps that need to be taken? In this type of work, the one word you hate to use is "no", but I have learned that honesty is always the best policy. You can't take on everything even if you want to.
Empowering People To Work From Anywhere in The World: Danielle Greason, Founder, VA Lifestyle
Australian Danielle Greason founded VA Lifestyle to help people and their businesses become location independent. She's built an online skills training program for virtual assistants that has seen nearly 400 people enroll over two years.
Success is being both willing and able to apply your resources - time, money, energy, focus - to all of the things you value most, every single day.
The biggest challenge in her work: The need to expect, and accept, times of slower business growth. If my productivity drops, for personal reasons, I need to be proactive about managing my mindset to move out of the feelings of resistance, into acceptance and gratitude. This happened last year when I was experiencing asthmatic symptoms for about four months; it's happened when I've had severe morning sickness during pregnancy; it's happened when I've had months of sleepless nights while breastfeeding a newborn.
Her proudest moment in building a business: My commitment to keep taking daily action, even when I've felt extremely uncomfortable, uncertain or out of my depth. As I reflect back, it sure seems like the results of those past efforts keep on compounding over time. I'm proud that I've stayed in the game long enough to have the chance to really experience that. It's the best kind of motivation.
How she keeps accountable to her goals: I visualize each major business goal as a single mountain peak, within a long valley full of mountain peaks of various shapes and sizes. Each day I ask myself three questions: What am I doing today to hike towards that next peak? Does it look like I'm on track to get there in the time frame I've decided on? Are there any additional resources I'll need to get there?
Saving Time in Construction: Tracy Young, PlanGrid
PlanGrid gives more than 42,000 contractors and their teams access to their building plans through a single app. More than 500,000 projects worldwide have used PlanGrid to complete buildings like the Levi's Stadium, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and California Pacific Medical Center.
Success is often rationalized. I believe that when people see luck, what they're really seeing is the result of hard work.
The biggest challenge in her work: Every day presents a new challenge for me as I establish the best ways to lead the company, but I'm lucky to be surrounded by experienced leaders and individuals that I'm always learning from. The construction engineer in me cannot help but take large problems, break them down into smaller issues, and solve them one by one.
Her proudest moment in building a business: I'm most proud of the team and culture we've built at PlanGrid. Founders found the company, but it takes a dedicated team to build it. Early in my career, I was lucky to work for a construction superintendent who was a true leader - the kind of person that everyone wanted to work with. I learned three core lessons from him which I still hold close to me heart: 1) Always have your team's back, 2) Ensure everyone knows what we are trying to accomplish together, and 3) Speak openly about the problems that we must solve together.
How she keeps accountable to her goals: Focus and prioritization are key. My goals are also the company goals, so writing them down and ensuring the executive team is aligned helps to hold everyone accountable. We discuss the status of these goals each week.
Increasing Inclusivity & Diversity in Design: Melanie Araujo, Front & Center
Front & Center is a Silicon Valley-based design education program for underrepresented communities in technology. The 2016 program trained 75 people on basic design, communication and networking skills; five people were hired into design roles by companies with diverse leadership teams.
Sucess is creating opportunities for others; passing on the skills that I've learned to uplift others like myself, who might not have had the privileges that most folks in technology do.
The biggest challenge in her work: Being a person of colour is a continuous challenge. When you have everything questioned, from the way you look to the way you talk, you're always expected to perform better than others and still be perceived as less. This makes it harder to do day-to-day work, but especially hard to raise funding or close partnerships.
Her proudest moment in building a business: Having built an audience that is interested in the struggles of underrepresented people in technology. The ability to captivate an audience and tell them about how to effectively mentor and support people of colour to get ahead in Silicon Valley.
How she keeps accountable to her goals: Truly analyzing what I achieved in my last effort, and setting metal goals to surpass those achievements. I get really hard on myself, but it's the only way to beat complacency. People of colour usually get one shot at proving themselves, so I treat every opportunity as a single shot, and try to make the best of it, no matter what external forces try to hold me back.
What does success mean to you? Share your stories with us in the comments below.
Tags: business advice, business success, female entrepreneurs, female leaders, success story, danielle greason, drizzle honey, gabrielle fayant, international womens day, melanie araujo, plangrid, va lifestyle