Feeling Grounded at CWE’s Women Business Leaders Conference

November 2015

Maureen (front, left) joins in a speed mentoring session. (Photo courtesy of CWE)

Maureen (front, left) joins in a speed mentoring session. (Photo courtesy of CWE)

The path for a successful startup can be described as a skyward trajectory. There are, of course, the times along the way where your rocket’s engine sputters and stalls during an otherwise upward journey based on the broad knowledge of subjects you must master—or skillfully acquire a working knowledge of—in a very short time. For many entrepreneurs, this challenge is stimulating and fun. Sitting by choice in the astronaut’s seat is quite different than the job you toiled at for many years, even though you may have been learning new skills. In your new business, I suggest you hold onto your hat…and get ready to wear a closet full of them!

As I listened to women business owners discuss their varying stages of businesses—from seed to fully bloomed enterprises—at the recent Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) Women Business Leaders Conference, I realized the incredible evolution of Twirling Tiger Media that Anne and I have guided. I received affirmation from many well-established professionals from a variety of industries that we are on track and moving our business forward intelligently.

There are the dips to discuss, however, and I particularly loved the sessions offered at this year’s CWE conference discussing why failure is good for success. Mistakes…everyone makes them. Susan Duffy, executive director of Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, Babson College, pointed to a study and stated, “Universally, women have a greater fear of failure.” She suggested that we have to build up resilience to failure. Her advice on an ending slide: “Jump and the net will appear.” Tracey Noonan, CEO and co-founder of Wicked Good Cupcakes, moves past failure with this three-step company credo: Feel it. Fix it. Forget it.

I was impressed and entertained to hear the humble beginning stories of Zipcar and iRobot. Robin Chase recounted the process for her pre-launch period for her 22 customers wanting to obtain the car keys to her one lime green VW Beetle (go to her Cambridge home, walk up the stairs, look under the pillow in the basket). And Helen Greiner told the audience that CyberSuck was an early iRobot name before she collaborated with a branding company. Helen is on to a new company, CyPhy, and stated, “I’m trying to apply the lessons I learned with iRobot.”

If you find learning stimulating, view problems as challenges to overcome, and enjoy collaborating with many…become an entrepreneur.

—Maureen