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Building a Better Boss Babe: 5 Tips to Get Through the Tough Times

Successful businesswomen share their tips on how to get through the tough times of being an entrepreneur

Amy and Nancy Harrington, Co-Founders of The Passionistas Project.
Amy and Nancy Harrington, Co-Founders of The Passionistas Project.

Being your own boss sounds great but it isn’t always easy. From learning the art of self-motivation to being your own cheerleader, there are lots of challenges to entrepreneurship. But many women find that the payoffs are worth the struggle. And for women who are following their passions, they know that they have to stay the course on the path to success.

Sometimes building your own business can feel like a lonely venture. But there are so many other women who have started from scratch and have wisdom to share. These five insightful tips might help you get through a tough workday.

1. Combat the Self-Talk   

Melody Godfred is the author of the books “The Agency” and “The ABCs of Self Love” and the founder of two successful businesses — the branding and resume creation company Write in Color and the self love movement site Fred + Far. While she’s faced lots of challenges throughout her journey, she sometimes find her biggest struggle comes from within.

She described her most significant professional obstacle as being hard on herself. “Even though I have two businesses, there are days where I look at myself and I feel like a complete failure because ever since I was a child I never felt like I truly lived up to my potential. I always felt like I was almost there but not quite.

That self-doubt isn’t visible to others in a social media driven world where everyone strives to present a positive image online.  “I think anyone looking in from the outside would say, ‘You’re crazy. You’re there. You’ve accomplished what everyone wishes they could accomplish,” Melody conceded.

The reality is often very different according to Melody. “There are days where I feel like all I do is fail and all I do is make mistakes. So combating that kind of self-talk is a part of my daily existence.”

But Godfred has found that focusing on the positive feedback she gets from the online community she’s created with Fred + Far helps her get out of her head. “I’m so fortunate and that the feedback I get is so consistent and so authentic and full of love. I’ll get Instagram direct messages where people say, ‘The world is a better place because of you. Keep doing what you’re doing.’ What more can you ask for than that — than to feel like you’ve made an impact on the world and you’ve made a contribution?”

2. Take It One Step at a Time

Karen Arceneaux is a dancer, choreographer, personal trainer and fitness coach, who has devoted her life to the art of movement. She came upon her biggest professional challenge as the instructor of an Ailey Extension’s Student Performance Workshop.

“I got to choreograph a piece for 53 people. That’s 53 different people, individual personalities, individual work ethics, beginner, intermediate, advanced, lazy, want to work hard, I’m not showing up for rehearsal. But I made it work,” Karen recounted.

She realized the power to not feel overwhelmed was in her hands. “I took it one day at a time. I didn’t stress myself out,” Karen explained. “I said, ‘Okay, you are a choreographer. Make sure the movement works for their bodies. Create movement that works for the individual. Don’t try to put movement on someone that’s beyond what they’re capable of doing.’

By focusing on the tasks at hand, Karen saw results across the board. “It was a challenge, but the piece went off without a hitch,” she reported. “It was a beautiful piece. Maybe three people dropped out, but there were major people on stage and they all look good and it’s because I was organized.

Her step-by-step advice applies to all types of businesses, not just performance. “Take each rehearsal one rehearsal at a time. Don’t think of the ninth rehearsal when you’re at the first rehearsal. I do that first rehearsal. Let’s do what we need to do. From the first rehearsal then I say, ‘This is what I need to do for the second rehearsal.’ So it’s just about being organized and making it work.”

3. Set the Right Tone for Your Team

Natasha Case was an architectural intern at Walt Disney Imagineering in Hotel and Master Planning when her life took an unexpected turn. She started making ice cream sandwiches that she named after famous architects and handing them out to her colleagues. Soon she and her partner Freya Estreller decided to turn the tasty treats into a business.

Coolhaus ice cream was launched in a broken down postal-van-turned-food-truck that Natasha and Freya had towed to the Coachella music festival. It is now a multi-million dollar business with a national fleet of trucks, two brick and mortar stores and distribution in supermarkets nationwide. 

While Coolhaus started as a company of two, it takes a lot of support to run the organization today. And as Natasha pointed out, finding the right team and learning how to be a leader isn’t always easy.

She has found the key to success to be “getting the right people on the team and knowing how to motivate and inspire. Everyone’s so different in what makes them click and tick. That takes time to learn.”

Natasha has created an inclusive environment to keep her employees engaged. “When you can show how fun it can be, then you really can get so much more out of your team because they’re wanting to do it. They’re not being forced to sit behind the desk. When we’re trying a new flavor we let everyone in to try it. Someone’s not being hired necessarily in a certain position to say, ‘Oh, we’re relying on your pallet to fix this.’ But let it be a team thing, a bonding thing, to all sit and see what everyone thinks about the seasonal line or whatever it may be.”

4. Step Into Your Power

Stacey Newman-Weldon found herself at a crossroads a few years ago. Suddenly out of work after a long and successful career in magazine ad sales and recently divorced, she was in search of a new path.

She decided to start by taking baby steps to new adventures. Every Wednesday, while her sons were with her ex-husband, Stacey was free to explore. She started blogging about her exploits on her website Adventure Wednesdays and now inspires other women to take a walk on the wild side.

But making such a bold move hasn’t always been easy for Stacey, she explained her biggest challenge has been “grieving my corporate career and stepping into the fact that I can start my own business. I have something important to say and others want to hear it. I am stepping into my own power about that.”

Still it wasn’t easy for Stacey to acknowledge that she has a deep wealth of knowledge to share with other people. “I did have a whole meltdown of who the heck am I to be doing this? Which from what I understand is a big thing that a lot of entrepreneurs to go through. And we each have to find our own answers to it. For me, you know, when I say, ‘Oh, who the heck am I to teach this?’ I’m not a therapist. I’m not a life coach. I’m not an adventure guide. I’m not a tourist tour guide. I don’t have any of those accreditations.”

But she realized that what she might lack in formal training she more than makes up for in her years of walking the walk. “I have a lifetime of experience. And a lot of the way I present things and have learned things are based on experience. So I was like, ‘Who am I not to be sharing myself this way?’”

5. Perseverance Pays Off

Beth Harrington channeled her entrepreneurial spirit into making movies. Always interested in storytelling, Beth was an early pioneer in documentary filmmaking and one of the first women to make a foray into directing music documentaries. She’s received countless accolades throughout her years in the business for movies like the Grammy Award-nominated film “Welcome to the Club: The Women of Rockabilly” and the critically acclaimed “The Winding Stream.” But she finally earned the ultimate honor this year when she won an Emmy Award for a film she made called Fort Vancouver, which aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Having written, produced and directed all of her independent projects, Beth acknowledged that there are many obstacles to getting any project off the ground. “Everybody has hurdles in the work they do. But for a filmmaker to even get to be creative, you have to do all this other stuff before you even get the chance to be creative. It isn’t like you go out and buy a canvas and then you paint. You have to raise the money to buy the wood to put stretch the canvas on the frame.”

But with decades of experience under her belt, Beth understands that showing up is more than half the battle. “The biggest thing that I know about anything creative is perseverance. I have come to realize it’s more important than talent. It’s more important than intelligence. That’s who wins the game. You have to persevere.”

Sisters Amy and Nancy Harrington have been inspired by the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp campaign and decided to use their skills as celebrity interviewers to work to tell a different kind of story. Where many podcasters reserve their airtime for the elite, Amy and Nancy are talking to amazing women you probably haven’t heard of, who are making a huge difference by following their passions. From the founder of a successful ice cream company to a volcano scientist running for office to an artist who makes sculptures using melted down nuclear weapons, Amy and Nancy shine a light on the positive stories of women on The Passionistas Project Podcast.

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