The partners of Simon Associates Management Consultants are committed to helping young entrepreneurs, and particularly women entrepreneurs, take their ideas and turn them into successful business ventures. As part of our effort, in 2018 we started the Simon Initiative for Entrepreneurship through the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Washington University in St Louis.
Once again, it’s awards season in Hollywood. And once again, women have been largely (and very noticeably) snubbed by the film industry.
At the recent Golden Globes, none of these female directors were nominated: Greta Gerwig (“Little Women), Marielle Heller (“It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers”) or Olivia Wilde (“Booksmart”). What’s going on here? Is the male grip on Hollywood really that tight?
Apparently so. Take a look at this year’s list of Oscars nominees and you’ll see the exact same story: no women directors.
Should we be surprised? In 91 years, the Oscars have recognized only five women in the Best Director category: Lina Wertmüller (“Seven Beauties,” 1975), Jane Campion (“The Piano,” 1994), Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation,” 2003), Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker,” 2009) and Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird,” 2017). Bigelow is the only one woman who’s ever won, and no woman of color has ever even been nominated.
Sidelining women in film is a recurring pattern, not a one-off
I have been researching my next book about successful women entrepreneurs and female business leaders. As I have dug into the lives of these women whom I've interviewed, I've realized that there have been countless women over the years who have pushed the boundaries for the times they were living in and broken through to achieve lasting impact.
Each month, I will share with you some of my “aha” moments when I learn about one of these amazing women. Their stories have led me to acknowledge and be grateful for their remarkable lives. Perhaps we should remember them more often. Celebrate their triumphs. Let them remind us of what we must do to continue opening doors to the future for our daughters and granddaughters, regardless of the hurdles we have to vault or the challenges we must confront—and there are certainly an abundance of those all around us.
For June, I wanted to share Helen Keller’s story with you.
A day filled with excitement and insights as women gather to launch the Simon Initiative for Entrepreneurship.
It is not every day that you get a chance to do what you really want to do! Andi and I have been fortunate. We have been successful entrepreneurs who grew our businesses and are now sharing our experiences with others to help them do the same.
After I sold my company, Andi and I decided to make a contribution to Washington University in St Louis, something which would have a long-term impact, a multiplier effect, by connecting people throughout the university and even into the surrounding communities.
While it started as just an idea, like other entrepreneurs we knew that if we worked hard enough on it, something exciting would emerge. The Simon Initiative for Entrepreneurship came out of a lot of good ideas from the talented people at Washington University.
Although it's becoming harder and harder to make serious financial returns in today’s retail world in the age of Amazon, there's still room for entrepreneurs to excel at retail and e-commerce. So how are some succeeding when so many are failing? By driving change. But to drive change—i.e., sustain growth in changing times—takes courage, stamina and ingenuity. And, dedication, persistence and a lot of hard work.
But even in today's harsh market demands and strong competitors, can young businesses still make it big and maybe even transform the world of retail? Yes!
As proof, take a look at this list of retail startups led by successful entrepreneurs that broke out of the pack in recent years, either through smart marketing, unique services or highly specific target markets.
How many times has someone said to you, “That’s a great idea, you should really run with it and make it a reality”? And how many times have you successfully converted a brilliant idea into a successful innovation? If the answer to the second question is zero, you're not alone. Unfortunately, most potentially great ideas remain dormant. Why? Most people don’t have the resources, courage, time and/or money to take action.
But bringing an idea to life is really hard. As the saying goes, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” It's mostly a battle against time (competitors with the same idea are often right on your heels), so in the beginning, the crucial parts of your business strategy should be planning and research.
More like a marathon than a sprint, the process of converting an idea into something real is an ongoing one. To help you on your journey, here are a few things every entrepreneur should know.
Whether you’ve been in business a long time or are an aspiring business owner, you’ll discover how powerful and empowering it is to be supported by your fellow female entrepreneurs as you navigate your way through the complexities of entrepreneurship as a woman in today’s world.
We’ve put together a list of incredible websites with the mission to empower women entrepreneurs on their journey to success. You may be ready to grow an innovative business to reach your pinnacle of success.
The list below shows you the wide range of missions for these leaders. From the stories you will see on She Owns It to the EveryGirl that might just be you looking for the inspiration to live that great life. Take it from two life-long entrepreneurs. It is a great journey. One we love to share.
What's my message to women entrepreneurs? You've come a long way, baby, but don't stop now because (male-oriented) corporate America is beginning to notice.
As proof, just look at the numbers:
- Women now make up 40% of new entrepreneurs in the U.S.
- In the last nine years, 2007 to 2016, there has been a 45% rise in women entrepreneurs (compared with a 9% increase in all entrepreneurs)
- More than 11 million businesses in the U.S. are woman-owned, employing nearly 9 million people and generating more than $1.6 trillion in revenue
Clearly, women are not just diving into business, they're doing it very successfully, as I discuss in my recent article for American Marketing Association. (Read it here.)
So how do successful women entrepreneurs do it? What's their secret sauce?
When women get the chance to build companies, they build them differently than their male counterparts. Women tend to intentionally create cultures that encourage collaboration, team-building and innovative thinking, without taking their eyes off bottom line results.
Also, when women scale a business, they focus on long-term sustainability, not just rapid growth. This focus informs marketing strategies and corporate priorities, and is an oft-repeated refrain we are hearing at SAMC in our interviews with women CEOs.