6 Key Lessons From Female Founders That You Really MUST Know
Karin Conroy* Many female founders in the law industry face unique challenges that result in a refined ability to manage their time and effectively build their own firm. Throughout their career, they have learned that there is great value in learning the effective measures of juggling a career and raising a family.
There are a vast amount of resources you can learn from female leaders in their industry, including LawFuel articles like this about three Chicago law firm founders. Take their advice and build your career without fear of failure or fear of missing out with your family.
Being a Working Mom Teaches Your Children Valuable Lessons
Hallie Balkin is an attorney who works full time and has two children. Even though it’s hard to juggle full time work and time with her family, she says it’s well worth it.
She says, “One of my favorite things is when my daughter plays dress-up and plays ‘Mommy,’ telling us she is smart and gets to help people.”
Hallie goes on to say, “The mom guilt is palpable. But at the end of the day, my daughter and son get to see that women can accomplish anything. Being a lawyer allows me to show them there are no boundaries when it comes to one’s passion.”
Struggling with time management between work and spending time with families is a common issue among female founders of law firms and other entrepreneurial businesses.
But there are several benefits for both the children and the woman who works full time.
1. Stick to Your Values
Madeleine Shaw is an entrepreneur and is the Co-Founder of natural menstrual health products pioneer Lunapads and the Founder of G Day.
Madeleine explains, “The way entrepreneurship is constructed by media these days is not serving us and it’s not serving women. We have this idea of a unicorn: this billion-dollar Silicon Valley, tech-savvy, rockstar entrepreneur that’s almost invariably male and who is the icon of the entrepreneur in the current media.
I’m not saying they don’t exist but 90% of entrepreneurial startups are small businesses that are being started primarily by women, who are not unicorns, who actually have reasonable, sustainable business models that make sense and products that provide good value to their customers.”
Madeleine explains to not only show financial metrics as a new entrepreneur, but to lead with your values. What’s the change you want to see in the world?
As female founders start their entrepreneurial journey, keeping your values in mind will help stave off any discouragement that may come along. Stick to your idea of why you wanted to start a business and make it a reality.
2. Believe in Yourself
Carrie believes it’s important to invest and believe in yourself. She says, “You can make all kinds of excuses about why you’re not good enough to do it. But the reality is it’s not about you, it’s about helping other people.
“And you’re good at that. If you invest in yourself and believe in yourself, other people will do the same.”
To be a successful female founder as a lawyer or entrepreneur, you must learn to get over your fears. Use your talents and gifts to help others and when you do that you will grow as a leader.
3. Balance is Not a Static State
You can grow and change directions in your journey as a lawyer and learn so much about yourself and how to help other people. Most of all be authentic.
Here is a quote from Jill Robertson, Principal and Landscape Architect at DIALOG.
“Early in my thirties, I was struggling to find any semblance of balance. A career I am passionate about, two small children, a husband with an equally demanding job – all important aspects of my life that were not in alignment.
“My best friend, who is a yoga teacher, reminded me that balance is not a static state, but rather a series of small adjustments. It is that continuous state of learning, of growing, of changing that allows a person to find stability, navigate change, and discover the confidence to chase down your dreams.
“My best advice is to be bold. Be Brave. Be authentic. Go for it. The only factors that can limit your potential are self-created.”
Jill has great suggestions to help you stay focused on your career. Don’t limit yourself with your own fears and the feeling of lack of confidence.
4. You Don’t Have to Be Perfect
Are you a perfectionist? Do you need to have your hands in every detail of your business?
Here are some words of wisdom from another entrepreneurial female founder, Shane Evans, co-founder and president of Massage Heights.
“I’m a true entrepreneur: I strive for perfection, and I tend to have lots of ideas that I want to bring to my team right away, so sometimes it can get overwhelming for them. I want to be a part of everything and be the best at doing it, but that tends not to be the most conducive approach to creating a productive working environment and relationships.
“I had an unrealistic expectation of myself and others, and my unrelenting pursuit of perfection stole joy away from myself and those closest to me.
“I had to learn to not expect that of myself; just expect the best that I can do. It was a long yet healing process of looking introspectively.
“With that, I learned to love myself more, despite what I thought were ‘flaws.’ By not focusing as much on perfection, I was able to focus more on my health and loving myself.”
Great advice. It’s better to not focus on perfection, but to just do the best you can.
5. Trust Your Instincts
Sometimes it may be hard to trust your own instincts when it comes to building a business. You start to search everywhere for someone to tell you what to do.
Lauren McGoodwin, founder at Career Contessa and host of The Femails podcast, offers her take on finding experts and running with your first instinct.
“When I was starting my business five years ago, I hired a fancy sales consultant to help me identify my revenue streams. Thousands of dollars later, I had an ‘expert’ telling me to remove half my services and just focus on the media advertising portion of my business. My gut disagreed with this, but I also kept thinking, ‘she’s the expert.’
Fast-forward to today, and I’m so happy I ultimately listened to my gut. The digital advertising world has changed a lot in five years, and I would not be able to sustain my business had I not diversified. So, the lesson here is to trust yourself, be kind to yourself in the process, and realize that no one is truly an expert — we’re all figuring it out as we go.”
This is so true. Women are their own biggest critics. Lauren’s advice is to be kind to yourself.
Trust yourself and don’t be heavy handed with all your endeavors as an entrepreneur. It’s better to start and learn from mistakes and move on than to let your dream die because you criticize yourself all the time.
6. Sometimes You’ll Need to Change Your Career Path
Freelancing or developing full time roles like Rachel Rodgers (below) who works as CEO of her business Hello Seven offers women entrepreneurs the ability to build a business and spend time with their children. The skills and success they’ve had don’t need to be lost or forgotten.
Rachel Rodgers is a successful intellectual property attorney and business coach. She worked hard for years before she realized there has to be a better way.
Here’s how she explains it:
She says “I knew this life wasn’t for me. That there had to be a way to have a big career and also enjoy life. To have a family and a business. To have success without having to kill myself for it.”
Rachel Rodgers ended up starting her own business which allows her to attend and watch all the after school functions that her children participate in.
Female founders in the law industry continue to pave the way to finding ways to build a career and raise their children. Several of them become freelancers with law firms or they work remotely with a law firm.
Female lawyers start their own businesses in order to keep up with their skills and expertise with the added benefit of having more time to spend with family.
Take the lessons and advice these female founders in the law industry and other entrepreneurial businesses have used to overcome difficulty and fear. Sometimes the guilt of not seeing your children all day because you opted to build a career as a lawyer can be unbearable.
Be encouraged and follow other women who have led the way to financial and time freedom. Take their advice and keep going!