Balance: blending that masculine and feminine energy is vital. You need to be able to take time off when you need it and also be able to get things done when they need to be.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shannon Dolan. Shannon Dolan is a functional nutritional therapy practice that focuses on the root cause of symptoms for optimal function. Her practice, Health With Shannon, supports women on their health journey through hormonal balance, and menstrual health. Health With Shannon also provides corporate wellness presentations and workshops centered on nervous system health and stress resilience.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I am so grateful to be here! My story has a few twists and turns that have gotten me to where I am today. I graduated with a degree in nutrition and a minor in strength and conditioning that lead me to personal training. After spending years in the gym helping a variety of people I always noticed that there was deeper healing that needed to happen with my clients. I dove back into my nutrition studies which ultimately lead me to become a functional nutritional therapy practitioner. Interestingly, during the time I went back to school was also when I started to have issues with my own health. I was having month-long periods, was deep in negative body image, was over exercising, and under eating. Nutritional therapy helped me get back on my feet, healing my relationship with food, improving my menstrual cycles, and all around changing my life for the better. Experiencing that change within myself made me realize how many people out there need this work, and that’s when Health With Shannon was born!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Where do I even start! Being an entrepreneur you never know what hat you’ll have to wear that day. Do you need to be an IT person, a website developer, a content creator? But, I’d say recently I’ve had interesting experiences of going viral for two different videos on two different platforms and managing that sudden growth in such a short period of time. I went from feeling stuck to all of a sudden having my calendar blocked with calls, having a full inbox, and also managing the comments and direct messages in each app. There was a lot of positive about that expereince, but also a negative side of having to manage criticism and learning quickly if your systems are set up for growth.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I have been that person who accidentally double books herself! I used to only keep a paper calendar until I finally realized that wasn’t sustainable, so tried out using the iPhone calendar. For some reason whenever I put events in my apple calendar it wouldn’t go to the correct time. Then I had that heart drop moment when someone emails or texts you like “hey I’m on the zoom link, where are you.” The worst feeling! Since then I have been diligent about double checking my sessions, blocking off times when I need to, and color coding every event on my schedule!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve had amazing coaches throughout this duration and believe that everyone needs a coach in whatever area of life you are trying to excel at. I also am lucky to have an incredible support system at home. My fiancé has been through the journey with me. I started getting the entrepreneur bug when we first started dating and I lived in a 400 sq foot studio apartment. It’s impossible to hide in a setting like that. On days when I was second-guessing myself, coming up with all of these ideas, and working my tail off to make something happen he was there all the way! He continues to be my number one cheerleader and my sounding board for all of my ideas!
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
It can be intimidating to start something! There are many fears that someone has to face. No one ever tells you the self-work that goes into being a business owner/ boss. Facing those fears and doing the work needed to break them is a challenge. For example, dealing with any mental roadblocks you have around money. My female entrepreneur friends and I talk all the time about the money mindset work we have been doing to overcome the thoughts that were built in from a young age. If you feel uncomfortable with money, there will be a subconscious block to you being able to create it within your business. It can also be a challenge if you do not have many examples of women in your industry who are succeeding in what you want to do. If you can’t imagine it, you cant obtain it.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
I think as individuals and a society we need to be more transparent about the challenging parts. With social media it often looks like these founders wake up one day and made six figures and have the picture perfect life. We all know that isn’t true, but how refreshing would it be if people would tell you more about the messy side of being an entrepreneur!
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
Majority of women naturally have this gift of feminine energy. Feminine energy allows for creativity, intuition, empathy, and comfort to slip into life. For so long the world has been operating in a masculine “go, go, go, get over it and keep going” mentality that has left many people in burnout and, what I have seen, health issues. Women taking up founding roles can help bring in more of this balance, not only allowing for improvement in the way we do business, but also in our own health/ function.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
That it’s easy! Like I touched on before, it isn’t smooth sailing all the time and you have to be quick on your feet to solve problems. Every business goes through growing pains and has to shift and evolve, and with that comes a lot of hard work and dedication!
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a founder. It takes a mental toughness that can be hard to sustain. There’s the personal inner work one has to do to get out of their own way, while also being able to take criticism from strangers on the internet (particularly if you’re on social media). I think the type of person that is able to be a founder is someone who loves being creative and innovative, someone who is fiercely dedicated to helping people for the greater good, and someone who won’t be completely thrown off course with negativity. However, having a “regular job” is great for some people! For those wanting the consistency of a paycheck and being able to focus on their one role and excel at it, it makes perfect sense to have a “regular job”. Being a founder definitely doesn’t have consistency and you have to wear many hats until you outsource!
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, What are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
1) A greater purpose: my mission in Health With Shannon is to help millions of people heal, connect, and understand their body’s at a deep level for long term health. I want this for so many people because I know what it feels like to be lost, confused, and to feel like you are the only one with this body that feels “broken”. Having a purpose and a grand vision is how you’ll be able to get up every morning.
2) Support: I mentioned how having coaches and support is so important through this process. It is worth every penny as they can be on the outside looking in and see improvements that can be made that you are blind to.
3) Intuition: being able to know what your customer needs before they say that they need it is a gift. Thankfully many women innately have the gift of intuition. This skill can be tremendous at helping you connect with clients and customers.
4) Discipline: The one word I was trying to avoid saying because of it’s masculine nature, but it’s so important! If and when you become a full-time founder of a business you are responsible for nurturing it everyday. It can be easy to want to sleep in, or put things off until tomorrow when you are your own boss, but that will get you nowhere.
5) Balance: blending that masculine and feminine energy is vital. You need to be able to take time off when you need it and also be able to get things done when they need to be.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
The work I do naturally makes the world a better place. For example I have an online course, Feminine Vitality, that helps people heal their menstrual cycles and balance hormones. The students in this course have been able to heal that then allows them to be more like themselves every month. That helps strengthen relationships, builds confidence, and allows them to do the work that they are passionate about! I also love working with corporations that have a company mission centered on a positive goal!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
For people to stop using filters on their faces and using edit apps on their photos. I know it sounds silly but I can’t imagine being a young woman these days. I personally stopped using a filter on my face whenever I do an Instagram story or Tik Tok video and it feels so refreshing because I know I’m not feeding into these impossible beauty standards. The world needs more authenticity and this is a great place to start!
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would LOVE the chance to hang out with Brene Brown. I’ve watched her Netflix special a handful of times, love her books, and her overall message of vulnerability. Plus, she seems like she would be the easiest person to get along with!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.