Statistics show female entrepreneurs get awarded funding at a disproportionately smaller rate than their male peers, even though women who receive venture funding bring in 12% more revenue than male-owned tech companies and are likely to have greater success overall.

Why the imbalance? The abysmal presence of female VCs, low numbers of females pitching, and the prevalent gender bias we have, are just some examples. To help overcome this, I’ve created these three tips, based on the most common mistakes women make when delivering their business idea pitch.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Pitching your idea for the first time is already a daunting task, so you want to eliminate anything that could prevent you from delivering what you want to say clearly and confidently. Practice your pitch in front of the mirror over and over until it is ingrained and flows naturally. You may even want to set up a video record so that you can play it back.  Self-awareness is one of your most valuable weapons when it comes to pitching, so having a video copy, as daunting as it sounds, can be really useful in helping highlight your weaknesses to better your performance.

Once you’re done practicing alone then go out and practice your pitch in front of different people: work colleagues, friends, mentors, family. They should be a mix of age and gender and preferably not all familiar with your industry or business cvoncept. I say this because in most cases, women will often find themselves pitching to an all-male group of VCs and it’s natural to feel uncomfortable about this, especially if your product is aimed at a female market.

I know of a woman who once pitched her online childcare service to an all male panel who had never looked for a babysitter because their wives always handled that area. In an instance like this, your audience may not have had relevant experience related to your business idea, and without practice, their reaction or lack of engagement could be off putting. Being prepared for different (or, frustratingly, the same) investors will leave you feeling more prepared and confident in your approach.

Avoid industry jargon and buzz words

Remember that not everyone will understand your industry as well as you do, especially if your idea is esoteric, age or gender-targeted. So when making an impression in such a short amount of time it’s important to focus on getting your key points and messages across, instead of using industry terms that people may not understand, or having to spend time defining what these terms mean, in the hope that you will appear educated on the topic.

I once heard a pitch from a woman who was working in the health industry. Her solution and product was truly groundbreaking. However, when she tried to explain what it was, no one could understand what she was talking about and in the end, they tuned out. My number 1 tip in this instance is to have someone from outside your industry, interest or target market listen to your pitch. If they can’t understand your idea, chances are, neither will a board of potential investors.

Don’t spend too much time explaining the problem

This is something I see both men and women do, regularly.  So many times, I’ve heard pitches where the founder focuses too much on the problem and doesn’t spend enough time talking about what the solution is and why they their idea is the best way to solve it. We all understand you are passionate about the problem you’re trying to solve and explaining the issue is important. However, developing a well-balanced pitch involves touching on these elements while focusing more closely on the solution you have developed.

My advice is to highlight the problem clearly, don’t try and solve multiple problems, and finally, outline simply why current solutions are inadequate. This way you will ensure people don’t switch off. Understandably, investors get more excited about the strategy of your solution than the problem you’re tackling.

 

While these are my top three tips for delivering your best pitch yet, I also think we need to see some action from the other side of the pitch fence. By this I mean we need more women in leadership positions, making the decisions of who gets the money and how much, in order to see a real shift in the number of female led business ideas attracting the right level of funding.

Furthermore, whether gender discrimination is intentional or not, it’s limiting the access female entrepreneurs have to funding, and evidently needs a greater push to break down these barriers. Investors, lenders and other financial firms need to be open to greater education on the potential of women to improve the business world.


Christie Whitehill is an award-winning entrepreneur and mentor in the Australian tech space. She is the founder and CEO of Tech Ready Women – an accelerator program specifically designed for non-tech female founders who want to step confidently into the tech space. They work towards not only up-skilling women in tech start-ups, but also giving them opportunities for funding and eventually working towards the establishment of our own fund solely for women led businesses. For more information, visit https://www.techreadywomen.academy/


What if the biggest limitations holding you back from business success are also the simplest to change? For every problem or hurdle, there are infinite possibilities – if you are willing to be a person who invites in opportunity over obstacles.  In truth, our biggest obstacles to success are the limited points of view we inherit from the people and world around us and then lock away in our mindset.

This is what I came to discover when I started my translation business at the age of 48. At the time, I had no previous experience running a business and faced a lot of doubts – both in my own mind and verbally, from those around me.  When I challenged my mindset and took action, my business and I became unstoppable.

After working with people from all walks of life, ages and continents, I noticed that many of us become deterred from starting business because of some common misconceptions. Here are four of the leading myths about business success, and how to shift your mindset so that you can go beyond them and enjoy creating a thriving business!

It’s too late to start

When I was launching my business, I received a lot of different opinions about my ability to succeed. Some folk were happy for me, and others, even those close to me, expressed doubt and uncertainty (and even disbelief) that I would choose this. I was told that I was at a disadvantage as a woman over 40, that I was out of touch with market trends and wouldn’t be able to keep up. I had moments in the beginning where I hesitated. After all, these people were close to me, and their points of view mattered. How could I move on with what I desired to do and not offend them?

It came to a point where I had to become clear with me: If I was going to put other people’s points of view and judgements first, I was never going to do and be something for myself. What would happen if I put myself first? To get over this hurdle, I used a simple tool – I asked myself a question: If I was really choosing for me, what would I choose?

From this simple question, I was able to step outside the opinions of others, gain the clarity I needed to trust myself and follow my own desires. The funny thing is, once I started doing that, many of the people who had initially doubted me changed their behaviour toward me and sought out my business!

Wait until you are ready, certain, prepared, etc…

“I have to wait until I am ready!” used to be one my favourite point of views – one I often used to slow myself down.  But what I finally realised is, I would never feel ready. I just had to go for it or nothing would happen!

Have you ever had an idea to start something, and then thought, “I’d better take another course,” or, “I need to prepare better first,” or you didn’t want to try something new unless you were sure you could do it perfectly? The myth we buy into is that it is possible to be 100% prepared, perfect or ready.

But what if you are never at your “best” because there is no such thing?  What if we are always “under construction”? There is always more we can add, accomplish, achieve and create. Instead of waiting to be ready, at our best, or getting it just right, ask: What is the best I can be and do today? What can I accomplish and what can I create?

You have to have the right education or experience

Do you allow all of your experience, knowledge and difference to count in the creation of your business?

When I first started studying languages and sociology, I would never have predicted that one day I would be able to combine that experience to create a successful business. I can translate and speak different languages, therefore I’ve been able to expand the range of people I work with and talk to, and the locations in which I can conduct classes and workshops. My background in sociology gives me both an individual and global approach to people – and approach that is different and that works for me.

In addition, I am a mother and I use my experience with parenting and raising my son to relate to a wide range of women and talk about things not many people feel easy speaking about. Take some time to look at all of your talents and abilities – especially the ones you believe have no value. Ask: What is it that’s special about me that I haven’t valued, because it’s easy for me? What would it create if I included those capacities in my business, too?

You have to copy someone else’s model

There are a lot of ‘answers’ out there about the right way to do business, create business, run a business … right down to the optimum business hours!  But the best way to create a business is not to follow other people’s models, but to do what works for you.

I started creating my first business – translating books – so that I could spend time at home with my son. With this translation business, I could do the work at home while my son was at school or at night when he was sleeping.  It worked for me for that period of time, and I used my skills and created money.  Importantly, I was able to change my business model when my personal circumstances changed. Ask yourself: How can I create my business in a way that works for me?  What if it didn’t have to follow a structure or system or model that limited you to achieve success in your business?

The more you trust yourself and don’t buy into the opinions and judgements of others – even the experts or people who you care about – success becomes so much easier, and a lot more fun!  What do you desire, what do you know and what can you create that no one else can?


Norma Forastiere is a business mentor, natural therapist and certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness® special programs. A native Portuguese speaker with a proficiency in English and Spanish, Norma founded her first business, a translation coaching service, at the age of 49. She offers workshops and consultations for those willing to explore greater possibilities in life, and in business. Find her at http://www.normaforastiere.com/


We all have big ideas. There are things that we want to do to positively influence others and make a difference in the world. When it is time to “take the leap”, however, we are often left a little overwhelmed with all the details that go into making our business or organisation thrive.

That’s where experts like Jessica Kinsey come in. Jessica is the founder of Prodigy and Co, a consulting company dedicated to helping impact-driven organisations build strategy behind their mission. She understands that most leaders are “big picture” dreamers and have the courage to start things, but sometimes need guidance on how to establish and grow their ventures.

In our interview, Jessica shares with us some basic fundamentals behind thinking through the structure of your organisation and how to move past times when you feel stuck.

Jessica, I am so excited to connect with you and share more of your story with our readers. To begin with, would you tell us why you started your business?

I started Prodigy & Co to help small businesses and nonprofits be more creative in their strategies for products, services, programs, marketing—pretty much everything. I’m a huge believer that we can’t solve problems or make a difference by doing the same thing we have always done, and I saw too many people just “rinse and repeat” the same old thing, or something someone else had done, hoping it would work, but not making progress.

What is the meaning (or backstory) behind your name “Prodigy & Co.”?

When you think of a prodigy, you think of a young kid who is exceptionally gifted but needs guidance and direction. That’s how I think of my clients. They excel at what they do. They have a heart and a passion for the work or the people or the craft, but they need guidance and direction. Most of them don’t have business backgrounds. They are the makers and doers who need help creating a sustainable organisation for their work.

You obviously have a passion for working with entrepreneurs and leaders who are “impact” and “mission” focused. Where did this desire to help these specific people come from?

There are a lot of big challenges we are facing today and I want to work with the people who are trying to make progress, trying to make a difference. Whether you are a for-profit or non-profit, if your goal is to make a positive impact on people’s lives, I want to help you do that. I also think that businesses and organisations that are built out of a passion to make an impact are more likely to last. Money is not enough to keep you going when things get tough. Money matters, a lot. You have to pay your bills and support your family. But when things get hard, and they absolutely will, most people can go get money elsewhere. They can go back to a “real job” and have stability and safety. Mission-driven people do the work because they can’t not do the work. That kind of passion is contagious and exciting.

Do you provide a variety of services, which one are you most excited about?

The work I enjoy most is helping non-profits bring a social enterprise aspect to their organisation. I see too many non-profits rely solely on donors and they are fundraising their entire budget each year. It wears them down. They are working hard enough to do good work in the community and make a difference. If I can help bring something to the organisation that can earn revenue so they can have a more sustainable, regular source of funding, that’s an incredible feeling. It can also be a real challenge to balance revenue generation with program impact and outcomes, and that’s a fun thing to take on.

What is the main difference between a non-profit and a social enterprise?

This is such a tough question to break down, because everyone has a different opinion. There’s the difference between a non-profit and for-profit which is based on tax status with the IRS, and what the goal is related to money. Are you putting it all back to the mission, or do you want to take earnings out for the owners?

More broadly speaking, the term social enterprise (to me) means an organisation that was founded based on a sense of mission and making a positive impact in the world, and all or most of their revenue comes from the creation and sale of a product or service. I believe that kind of organisation can be a for-profit or non-profit. Not everyone agrees, but I think for-profit businesses can exist for social good. That the owners can “do good and do well”, as it’s sometimes said. Some non-profits are social enterprises because they create a product or service that they sell. Some non-profits are 100% donation based—I don’t consider those social enterprise.

It’s about the combination of social and enterprise. You have to be mission-driven and focused on making a positive social change. The social part. And you have to be selling something. The enterprise part. I don’t think the tax status matters.

I would like to see more people start for-profit social enterprises. I believe there is this dichotomy in the way people think about doing good versus making money. That it is either/or. You either go into business and make a lot of money and then give it to charity, or you go to work for a nonprofit and you make next to nothing and kill yourself for the greater good. I think we need to re-think that. You can do both. You can start a for-profit organisation that is built to do good and earn a lot of money at the same time. It’s about staying mission-focused, taking great care of all of your resources (people, environment, etc.), and doing what is right. I ultimately believe if you do that, profits will follow, because people want to buy from and support companies that do good.

What are a few tangible pieces of advice you would give someone looking to grow their business or organisation but currently feels stuck?

Find a support system of like-minded leaders in a similar place as you, and learn from and lean on each other. Especially for solo entrepreneurs or non-profit founders, it can be so incredibly difficult to go it alone. When you have someone to bounce ideas off of and ask for advice and support, it can be a game changer.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. I’d like to say focus on one thing, but I know that isn’t possible, especially in the early stages. But be mindful of the work and projects you do take on. Protect your energy and time, and put it into the things that will move the needle the most. We often feel stuck because we don’t know the right next step because there are a thousand things we could do. The more you focus in, the less that happens.

For non-profits, be extra strategic about donors, board members, and partners who share your values and want to do things the right way. Don’t just take money because you need it, and try to find donors who believe in the importance of “overhead” or “administration”. It’s not a bad thing. You can’t run an organisation that is understaffed with underpaid people, or reach your audience with no marketing budget. It’s such a hard thing to do, but it makes an incredible difference.

What is your vision moving forward? Where would you like to take the company from here?

I’m looking to hire my first (part-time) staff member to help keep me organised and on target. I have a lot of big ideas and I need some reining in, sometimes. That’s a really exciting step for me and will allow me to do more of what I truly love, which is strategising with organisations on how to grow their impact.

I just kicked off an 8-week intensive with small non-profits locally to help them set a solid foundation to maximise and grow their impact, and maintain financial sustainability. My goal is to adapt that intensive into an online program early next year, so I can increase my own impact in the non-profit space.

I would like to start working with more for-profits that want to add or increase social impact through their businesses, whether that is through their internal processes or partnering with non-profits. It comes back to my comment about “doing good and doing well”. I’d like to see more businesses put an intentional focus on that.   

My ultimate vision is about expanding my impact as much as possible. I have a finance degree, so the power of compound interest was practically beat into me in school. I want to create a compound impact. I want to look back at the organisations I’ve worked with and see how my work has helped them create massive positive impact with their beneficiaries and then see how those people whose lives were changed have gone on to create massive positive impact as well.

 

About Jessica

Whether Jessica was performing at Clown College, or calling women in nursing homes via a “phone-pal” program, or volunteering at the YMCA, she has always been a dedicated servicewoman. But even more than serving, Jessica wants to serve strategically. Jessica can be easily influenced toward your passion, and she wants to hear what you’ve got up your sleeve. She holds a degree in finance and an MBA from the University of Tulsa. She has worked as an adjunct professor at the TU, teaching Creativity and Innovation to some of the brightest entrepreneurs in town. She still can’t decide if coffee or wine brings better ideas. But who wants to choose? You can connect with her at prodigyandco.com

 


People don’t do business with companies; people do business with people. In fact, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people over brands.

As difficult as it might be for the introverts and behind-the-scenes folks out there, if you are a solopreneur, you are the face of your company. In order to build trust with your company, people need to resonate with you and who you. Creating a strong personal brand is especially important for business owners like you.

But what is personal branding? Does it mean you have to post on social media about what you’re wearing and eating every hour of the day? Not unless you’re a diet or fashion blogger! Personal branding involves creating a reputation for yourself (through clear messaging in social media, networking, press, and/or published content) that makes your audience trust you and see the value you and your business provide.

But great personal branding it is not primarily about selling your product or service. It’s meant to get people to know you first, and then your business.

If you’re just beginning to develop your personal brand, the process can be a bit overwhelming. Here are 6 personal branding tips for solopreneurs:

Establish your core values

Start off by making a list of what’s important to you. Do you want to be warm and gentle, or up-front and straight to the point? Is your tone more serious and straight-laced, or do you like to use a little more humor? Define your traits, values, and voice. Then dedicate yourself to letting those values bleed through every decision you make or action you take.

Quick tip: Write down your core values on post it notes and stick them all around your office so you’re always reminded to remain on-brand.

Have a compelling story

There’s a great story behind how you got to where you are today. Did you always used to watch your mother put on makeup in the morning—and now you own a beauty empire (like Kylie Jenner)? Did you notice a discomfort in your own life and seek to create a revolutionary product to fix it? Discover the compelling core of your story, and proudly tell it in a memorable way. Aim to make it relatable, but most importantly, keep it honest. Your audience will be able to tell whether or not you’re being genuine. [Editor’s note: Need help telling your story? Our Write Your Own Story Journal was designed to help you discover your story and get it down!]

Quick tip: All good stories have a protagonist, conflict, and resolution. Make sure whenever you tell your story (through your content, website, resources, etc.) you establish yourself as the protagonist, the conflict as the gap in the market you intended to correct, and the resolution as how and why your product or service is revolutionary.

Find your niche

When it comes to marketing messages, focus is key to success. If you try to speak to everyone, you’ll end up speaking to no one. You’ll resonate more and have to talk less if you focus in on one specific group of people you want to be heard by—you’ll have less competition and more results. Then do your research. Search your product or service and your competition. See what kinds of people would need your help. Would your product or service most benefit a stay at home mom on a budget? A large organization with a lot of resources? The more specific you can be the better.

Quick tip: Describe your ideal client in depth (including demographics such as age and gender, and personality traits and struggles)  and let that guide your description of an audience.

Join a community

Find people who care about the things you care about! Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to interact with people in your industry and target market online. Networking is extremely important in order to get your name and face out in front of people who care about your mission and need the value you bring. Attend workshops, seminars, speaking engagements, networking events—any group that is likely to have like-minded people in it. Meeting people in person is the best way to show off your own unique personality and style, which is great for proving the authenticity of your personal brand.

Quick tip: Eventbrite is a great way to find local networking and industry specific events in your area. (There’s a bunch of free events on there as well!)

Leverage social media

Social media is both the easiest and most difficult way to build awareness for your personal brand.  If you’re careful not to get sucked into the social media vortex, you can test different strategies for sharing your brand on social media and slowly make it an easy and natural part of your engagement with specific groups of people. Just make sure that whatever you post, it’s true to your values and personality. If part of your brand is being a community advocate, post a photo of you supporting local businesses at a festival. If part of your brand is being funny and quirky, post a meme once in a while.

Quick tip: Utilize industry-specific hashtags to interact with people in your niche and reach your target market.

Google yourself

With any new experiment you undergo regarding your business, it’s important to measure your efforts in order to stay focused—or find out whether something isn’t working and should be abandoned!

An easy way to check on your online presence is to Google yourself to see what comes up on the first two pages, including  photos, social media accounts, press, etc. What you’re seeing is what your audience is seeing! If you see something that doesn’t adhere to your personal brand (such as a questionable photo of you at a party ten years ago…), try to correct it. Googling yourself is also a good way to see where you should step up your personal brand. If you’re seeing a lot of Twitter posts pop up, but your audience is mostly on Instagram, make a note to start posting more on Instagram. Do this assessment every once in a while to make sure you’re appearing how you want to to your online audience.

Quick tip: A good way to rank high on Google search results is to start a blog that practices proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO). An easy way to start practicing SEO in your blog posts is to research and use popular industry-specific keywords that will get your audience to find you and your content.

 

Bottom line: Define what values mean the most to you, so you can be conscious of them both on and off line. Make your story relatable and engaging, but make it honest! Focus in on your niche so you know exactly who you’re trying to reach. Interact and network with like-minded people on social media groups and at events nearby. Use social media to spread awareness about your personal brand, but don’t post something that doesn’t adhere to your brand. Google yourself every once in a while to make sure what your audience sees is what you want them to see, and to see all your personal brand efforts in action.


Alicia Galan is a certified Content Marketing expert by Hubspot Academy and the Content Manager at Sunbird Creative. We are a boutique branding agency based in Harlem, NY that helps solopreneurs and small business owners carve their niche in the world.


Being a mum and an entrepreneur can be thrilling, fulfilling and a way to really have the best of both worlds. Yet, as any mumpreneur will tell you, it can sometimes feel as if you’re going a bit crazy, trying to juggle it all, taking care of so many people, working crazy hours and trying to do it all.

Here are five pragmatic tips to stay sane in the midst of all the chaos:

Indulge (briefly) in insanity

Sometimes the best way to stay sane is to have the freedom to indulge any emotion. Find someone to watch the kids for an hour, go for a walk, lock yourself in the bathroom, or call a friend and ask them if it’s ok to just vent. If you are sharing with someone, let them know they don’t need to fix anything for you; you just need a safe place to let some stuff out. Give yourself permission to feel and let out whatever you’ve been holding in. Allow yourself to be angry, sad, to scream, cry, or go crazy. Often, you’ll find you’re over it before you’ve even begun. When we resist or suppress things, they fester and create problems down the line.

Done is better than perfect

We could all drive ourselves crazy trying to be perfect and get everything just right. Acknowledge that you can either keep working and reworking everything (both job wise and parenting wise) or you can get it done and move on. There is no such thing as perfect. The quest for perfection will only keep you in endless amounts of judgment and stop you from creating. Do your best and know that it is far better than you realise anyway! If you find yourself obsessing over tiny details, ask yourself: “will this matter in five year’s time?” If not, choose to let it go.

Be willing to be a “bad mum”

Are you looking from the outside in at what others judge as good or bad qualities in a parent? If it hasn’t already, this will drive you crazy! Trust in you and your children to let you know what works for your family and be willing to get it ‘wrong.’ There will always be people passing judgements. But if you’re willing to be seen as a bad mum, you have the space and allowance for yourself to be you and find out what works and doesn’t work. This will teach your kids it’s okay to be yourself too, no matter what anyone else thinks!

Include your kids in your business

Rather than setting the stage for your kids to resent your work and see it as ‘the thing that takes mum away from me’, let them know what you’re up to. No matter how young they are, you can give them information about why you are spending time away from them. Young kids can understand phrasing such as, “Mum is going on this trip in order to make money so we can buy you toys and yummy food.” As they grow older you can give them more information about what things cost and give them ideas of how they can value money, and start to make their own money too!

Ask your kids if they can contribute to making work tasks easy for you. For example, “Can you play quietly while I make this phone call and then we can go outside and play together?” Oftentimes being fully present and engaged with your children for a short period of time allows them to relax. Then they can more easily accept, and respect, your working hours.

Don’t pretend you’re not a mother

Lets face it, your kids will always be your number one priority. If they need you, you will be there for them. Taking care of them when they’re sick, hurt, or going to a special event with them, is part of what’s required for you to stay sane. There’s nothing more distracting than trying to work when your kids are tugging at you (energetically, emotionally, or physically) So be upfront with your colleagues and clients. Let them know what’s going on, without oversharing.

You’d be surprised how understanding people can be if you just let them into your world a little bit. And if they’re not… maybe you don’t want to be working with them!


Lauren Marie is a Joy of Business facilitator, acupuncturist, entrepreneur and mother of twins. She travels worldwide, facilitating classes and changing her clients’ point of view about life, health and business. Born on the outskirts of Washington D.C., Lauren now lives on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. A passionate creator and conscious rule-breaker, Lauren seeks to inspire other mothers to see the possibilities others overlook and to embrace every challenge and choice that parenthood brings. www.meetlaurenmarie.com


Values, values, values! Having strong values is vital in life. They help us to create the future we want to experience. When we use our own values to make decisions, we make a choice to focus on what is important to us.

Possessing strong values is what Bianca Bellantoni is all about. Bianca is the CEO and founder of her self-titled womenswear label, BELLANTONI. Bianca had a vision and made the necessary steps to achieve that vision while always keeping in mind her core values. The clothing company is based out of Vancouver, BC and is known for being a sustainable and cruelty-free organization. Bianca, a Leader In Heels herself, sat down with us for a chat on her experiences throughout this journey.

Can you give me a little background on yourself? Who you are and what lead to the creation of your business idea?

Hi, my name is Bianca Bellantoni and I am a 26 year old designer based in Vancouver. I love animals and I have a strong desire to make a significant impact during my time on this earth. I applied to fashion school in Toronto because I wanted a creative career. Fashion ended up being an outlet that seemed fun, and one that I felt I would do well in. Within my first year at Ryerson University, we were taught about the negative impact clothing has on the environment as well as the people involved making it. This was extremely alarming to me and it really changed my outlook on the fashion industry as a whole.

I learned about the waterways in Asia that would “magically” change colour based on the latest colour trends at the time. I learned about large populations of cotton-farmers being diagnosed with brain tumours. I learned about toxins being dyed and sprayed all over various fabrics. I was at a point where I wanted to quit attending fashion school for good. It took an honest and vulnerable conversation with my Mom to remember that if I really wanted to make a change in the fashion industry, I was going to have to stay in it! From then, I focused my studies and assignments around sustainability.

Upon receiving my Bachelor of Design at Ryerson University in Toronto, I had a deep desire to want to make clothing the way I believed they could be made and in a way that stayed true to my values. That is, without harming people, without harming animals and without harming the planet.

“I had a deep desire to want to make clothing the way I believed they could be made and in a way that stayed true to my values.”

How long have you been operating your business now? Was having your own business something that had always been of interest to you?

Officially, it was a year on March 21, 2018. However, throughout school I put my designs and clothing in every fashion show opportunity that I could find and began building my online presence before I even had an online storefront. I never really said, “I want to be an entrepreneur.” I wanted to be a designer and an artist. My dad is an entrepreneur. He owned his own restaurant and now has a successful importing company, so I guess you could say that it is in my genes?

Did you feel like you had necessary skills to build a business? Was it something that was self taught?

I was lucky that almost all of my internships and jobs in the fashion industry were in small businesses or family-owned businesses. From working independently with designers, to working in a small bridal shop, to being a designer for a startup company, I was really able to see how companies ran on a smaller level. I thought to myself, I can do that! So I went for it. I honestly believe that if I sat down and tried to work through every little detail before I even started, I would have talked myself out of pursuing fashion all together.

What would you say are THREE skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

I believe the three skills or tips you need to be a successful entrepreneur are:

  • Believe in yourself and your business​ because no one will love your business more than you.
  • Be optimistic & persistent. Know that you will be successful, and find the strength to push through when times are tough and you feel like giving up.
  • Build a network & support system​. I’m not only talking about your friends and family, but surround yourself with other entrepreneurs, join interesting groups, like-minded meetups and find an accountability partner. I have the BEST accountability partner and I am so grateful!

What does a regular work week look like for you? Is scheduling down time important?

I have another job, so my weeks are pretty busy. I work part-time as a Marketing Designer, so I work on my business in the evenings, on most weekends, as well as the few days that I am not working at my other job. Scheduling down-time is ​very important.​ I consider this to be alone time. For me, I need time alone to re-energise and allow myself to reflect on my own life. I have started meditating every morning for 10 to 20 minutes and this has helped me to stay focused throughout the day. I feel mentally lighter and I can go about my day calmly.

What do you enjoy doing during your spare time?

I love going to breweries or coffee shops with my friends or going for walks around the city. Vancouver is just so beautiful.

What has been your biggest hurdle throughout this entire journey so far? How did it affect you and how did you handle it?

I think the biggest hurdle I’ve encountered, and I actually still catch myself doing, is being really hard on myself for not being farther than where I am today. I catch myself comparing my business to other companies who have been around for years and years, and pointing out how “slow” my business is growing. It can definitely be a good thing in that I maintain my ambitiousness and keep pushing myself to do better, but it can also be detrimental to my mindset.

“My meditation has helped a lot with this too, and allows me to detach from the outcome letting life and my business just naturally happen on their own terms.”

When this bothers me, my fiance pulls me out of my head so I can acknowledge how much I have already accomplished. He always brings light to the situation. He helps me realize that I cannot compare myself to other people who are already farther than me or people who are in a different situation to me. My meditation has helped a lot with this too, and allows me to detach from the outcome, letting life and my business happen on their own terms. I know that big things are going to come, but I need to be more patient with myself and continue to work hard.

What would you say is the most unique aspect/attribute of your business?

Many people love that I recycle my fabric scraps and turn them into pet beds to donate to local shelters. This idea originated from when I was in my third year at Ryerson. I was enrolled in a sustainability field study of four selected students. I focused my thesis on zero-waste. The pet bed idea came about from this class, and I began collecting scraps from students at my school to reuse. When I started my own business, I decided to incorporate this pet-bed-making process so I knew exactly where my scraps were going.

“Many people love that I recycle my fabric scraps and turn them into pet beds to donate to local shelters.”

If you had one piece of advice to give to someone who was just starting their own business, what would it be?

Make sure that you absolutely LOVE your idea. Don’t give up when it gets really tough and remember that success doesn’t happen overnight.

Leaders In Heels is all about nurturing, inspiring and empowering female leaders. In your own opinion, what are three qualities you think a Leader In Heels would naturally possess?

I think these women would naturally possess authenticity because it is just so important to be true to yourself. Courage because it takes a whole lot of it to go after what you want in life, and kindness because the world needs more kindness. When you lead by example, you can create that ripple effect.

 

Bianca is such an inspiration and her self titled label is up and coming in beautiful Vancouver. Show her some love and support and admire her unique and classy collections by finding her at:

Website/Store: ​www.bellantoni.ca
Instagram: ​@bellantonidesigns
Twitter: ​@biabellantoni
Facebook: ​BELLANTONI