Jenn Aubert, author of “Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready! Set! Launch!” and inspiration for many women entrepreneurs, answers some insightful questions for us at StartupNation:
As a busy mom-entrepreneur, where did you find the time to write a book while also launching a new business?
Great question! When I started the book, my son was home with me and it was incredibly challenging. I lived for naps and utilized every minute to make progress on the book project. I won’t lie; I used movies from time-to-time to buy me a half-hour to do phone interviews. My husband is very supportive and would sometimes take our son out for the day on Saturdays to allow me some quiet time to write. When he started preschool last fall, I was able to make significant progress. I utilized those precious hours to the fullest by plotting out the three things I absolutely had to accomplish during that timeframe. It is amazing how quickly you can focus on your priorities and how much you can accomplish when you have set perimeters around your time.
What inspired you to write “Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready! Set! Launch!”?
As a woman entrepreneur I have always known we are different than our sisters in the corporate world and our male entrepreneurial counterparts. Our motivation, definitions of success, and challenges are unique. I personally wanted a book that spoke to me and gave wisdom and examples from other women who have been there and are doing it. Not just iconic women role models, but more ‘real life’models of success as well.
Tell us about the “Role Models Wanted Project.”
In the fall of 2012, I happened to be looking at my book shelf and noticed that most of the books written on business, marketing, social media, and so on were written by men. I thought that perhaps I was missing something and decided to ask a forum that I was a member of what they were reading, who were they following, and who were their role models. It was a pretty innocent question. I was curious. The answers that came back regarding the role models were mostly men who ran significant-sized multinational companies. Few women were mentioned other than Oprah. I asked my friends the same question and they similarly draw a blank. I realized that something was amiss if there were few examples of role models that come to the forefront of women’s minds when starting a business. I took a year and interviewed 100 successful women entrepreneurs across a variety of industries, geographies, and points in their careers to understand what makes them unique and how role models may have played a role in their development. The project became my book.
Who are your role models in business?
Honestly, every woman I interviewed inspired and energized me. Each had so much to share and offer. My role models in business have shifted and changed over the years as I’ve grown and changed. I feel like I have so many now it’s really hard to narrow it down. I admire Alexis Maybank (Gilt) for her business acumen and ability to build a massive organization. I saw her speak and was incredibly impressed by her warmth and approachability. She’s a mom of young kids, too. I’m also impressed by Gabby Bernstein who has created a mini-empire around spirituality and has kept true to her message. She’s fun to watch.
I adopted the notion of collecting lots of different role models to learn from and be inspired by because each has something different to offer.
Can you share some of your favorite business “Dos and Don’ts”from your book?
My favorite “Do” is to start taking action and continue taking action daily. I think it is easy to wait until all the stars align or delay starting because you’re waiting for the timing to be better. There really is no better time than right now. You don’t always have to jump in 100 percent today, but you can easily start making small steps each and every day. Before you know it, you’ll have built a business or have written a book. I interviewed 100 women and wrote a book within one year while raising a toddler and running a business. I’m not a super woman by any means but I did a little bit each day, kept at it, and voila, a book!
One of my favorite “Don’ts” is do not go it alone. Women are highly social, connected creatures yet many women start businesses in a vacuum. We tend not to ask for help or hire the people and services we need to build and grow. We’re givers not receivers. I’m guilty of this, too. It has been challenging for me to ask for help but when I have and have received it graciously (without apology), it has paid off tremendously. It takes practice asking for the help you need.
What advice can you share with women who are starting their own businesses and are looking for support and inspiration?
When you’re looking for support or inspiration look to the iconic figures for inspiration (what I call stretch role models), but don’t forget the women just a few steps ahead of you on this journey. They have so much to offer. Also look to different people for different needs. It’s nearly impossible to learn everything from just one or two people.
Looking ahead, what do you think the future holds for women entrepreneurs?
I whole-heartedly believe the future is bright for women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in general. Technology, social media, and low entry costs have made it much easier for people to start businesses. As women, we can be our own worst enemies. However, if we do the inner work of curbing our self-sabotaging behaviors and stand up and unabashedly share our successes with others, then the sky’s the limit on what we can accomplish. It’s all there–we just have to jump in.
What’s next for you?
Over the course of the last year, interviewing over 100 women for this book and reading the stories of many more, I had an “ah ha”moment for my next venture. Although I’m an acupuncturist and have my own private practice, I call it my “day job.” My real passion is women entrepreneurs so I’m about to beta test and launch an online marketplace and community to inspire, educate, empower, and connect women so that they can create success for themselves on their own terms. More to come later this year on that! I can’t wait.