Growing up, we all have grand ambitions – visions of ourselves making bold career choices, pursuing our passions, shaping our destinies. Then real life happens. Daily obligations and practicalities prevent many of us from chasing our dreams.
Here, 3 businesswomen reveal their own stumbling blocks to success, and how they overcame them.
Shannon Auton, OOB
14 years ago Shannon swapped a high-flying career in HR to launch OOB, the Omaha-based organic ice cream and berry company, with her husband Robert. In 2013 OOB was named one of the country’s fastest growing exporters by Deloittes.
Despite this, Shannon believes that OOB should have become a lot bigger a lot sooner. “I allowed certain things to hold me back.”
1. A reluctance to take big risks
“I prefer calculated, conservative risks. We should have gone into the Australian market, extended the ice cream factory, and spent more on good staff, much earlier than we did. I wanted the business growth to come first.”
Solution: “Be prepared to invest upfront in the future of your company. Put your money into areas that will develop the business. It’s an enormous risk, but the reward comes when you see the resulting expansion.”
2. A fear of the unknown
“I’ve never been constrained by a fear of failure, but rather a fear of the unknown. For example, the major players make decisions I can’t predict, like product deletion, that will impact hugely on our business.”
Solution: “Be as informed as possible. Research, ask advice, and keep up to date. Life throws curveballs so learn to adapt and act quickly. Deal with the facts and don’t take it personally.”
3. Family responsibilities
“Our children were infants when we launched OOB. Robert and I had moved from salaried positions in the commercial sector, and I was worried how my financial situation would affect my family. I needed to put food on the table.”
Solution: “Remember that you’re doing this for your family and their long-term security. Which is all the more reason to have a solid business plan and absolute faith in yourself.”
Angelique Fris-Taylor, Publicity PR
Angelique launched her first PR company in Auckland 11 years ago. Now founding director of Publicity PR, Angelique was named PR Personality of the Year in 2012. She’s refused to let anything stand in her way, including:
4. The security of the day job
“I worked for a big company handling PR and key clients, and after four years the role was comfortable and familiar. Then one day I woke up and knew I needed to make some serious changes.”
Solution: “Take control. Come up with a well-thought-through plan that works for you. I put a proposal to my employers, suggesting I handled their PR on a contract basis. This was the first step to setting up my own PR company.
“It was horrifically scary at first, but luckily I have a supportive husband who is also my business mentor.”
5. Time pressures
“My dad said to me once: ‘As you get older, time passes quicker.’ He’s right. How many times do we complain that we don’t have enough time to do everything?”
Solution: “I’m inspired by this quote: ‘The 2 questions that come to mind about anything… Is it worth your time? Is it worth your energy?’ If you’re ever unsure about taking on a project, these answers will put your priorities in perspective.”
Bronwyn Kay, Bronwyn Kay Agency
Bronwyn Kay lives in Gisborne. She founded the boutique Bronwyn Kay Agency in 2008, and it’s now one of the region’s most successful real estate agencies. She’s overcome numerous challenges to be where she is today.
6. Societal expectations
“I married at 17 with no goals beyond being a homemaker and mother. That’s what society led me to believe my role was. But somewhere in my psyche I was entrepreneurial, competitive, and ambitious.”
Solution: “Discover what you’re good at and what you’re capable of, then ignore other people’s opinions and follow your own path. I left my abusive marriage in 1981 and needed to support my family, so went into real estate. I found out that I could do the job, and do it well.”
7. Thinking too small
“When I started working, all my bosses were men. They were quite upfront in their ambitions and it took me a while to understand that, as a woman, I could be too. And I didn’t have to work for them, either.”
Solution: “Know what you don’t want. I don’t want someone else directing my traffic so that’s why I set up my own company. I aim to be one of the best because that’s what my clients deserve. Dream big.”