Ankita Terrell and Emily McDonald are the women behind My Founder Circle, a community designed to support female founders while they start, grow and scale their companies. They sat down with Jessica Abo to talk about how they’re helping female founders supercharge their business and how you can too.
Jessica Abo: Ankita, let’s set the stage for a second. How many female founders start their own business every year and how many of those actually make it to year five?
2.6 million businesses are started by women every single year. Now, of course, the actual number is probably way higher because a lot of solo entrepreneurs never register themselves as a business. And of those, 50% fail by year five. So only about 1.3 million make it to year five and beyond.
And why do you think that is?
The timing of their launch often isn’t right, the product-market fit isn’t right, or perhaps they just don’t have the right tools or a community to help them in their success. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey, and we want to change that.
Emily, when women come to you, what are some of the challenges that they’re facing?
Women come to us typically when they already have a business, they already have revenue, and they already have customers, but they’re really confused about how to scale their business. They’re often feeling overwhelmed. And I actually built a seven-figure fashion business myself and I faced those same problems, so I totally understand. They don’t know what to try and what works. And there are so many options in front of them that they feel alone and overwhelmed by how to get from where they are now to a scaled, more successful, more profitable business.
Ankita, when you say you helped top founders supercharge their growth, what does that look like?
Emily and I have very unique experiences. She built a seven-figure company. I previously worked in venture capital, worked for a startup and in a nonprofit, and I went to business school. So between us, we’ve both done and studied what we teach. So we help founders supercharge that growth through very tactical support. We act as their co-founders. We provide a lot of support with mindset growth as well. So both tactical support in group and one-on-one settings, and also a small group community they can lean on.
I recently heard that we have more than 6,000 thoughts a day, and 85% of those are negative. So how do you help your clients and your students who are in that negative mindset? How do you help them shift?
We want to remind our founders that having negative thoughts is really common. It’s really common to encounter bumps along the road as you’re growing a business and as you’re growing as a human. We support founders very deeply, both in a group setting and one-on-one, and help them overcome their limiting beliefs. We want to hold up a mirror to you and help you be the best you that you can be. We heavily invest in learning different modalities and techniques to be better founders and now better coaches. Often, these techniques and modalities have taken us years to learn and we continue learning from them and bringing in outside support to help our founders.
And like Em said before, we have a lot of experience. She built a seven-figure business and overcame a lot of these challenges. I worked across nonprofit and venture and in funding B Corps and have absorbed a lot of what makes a business successful. And having a plan in place and having coaches that really believe in you as a human goes a long way.
And to add to that, we like to remind founders that some of the things that you perceive as negative that happens in your business actually end up being some of the biggest growth moments and some of the things that lead you to some of your biggest successes.
Speaking from experience, I think every time I’ve hit a low, climbing out of that process has always led me to my next offer or my next program. So that brings us to growth. How do you advise people when it comes to growing their business?
What I want to encourage founders to do is invest in help, join a community or hire a coach, or get an advisor who can really be there in a more effective capacity, someone that you can bounce ideas off of, someone that you can be extremely honest with when things are going wrong. You need that support. You can’t build the business alone. And it really takes a combination of mindset and strategic work. So when we work with founders, we build a strategic roadmap while we also work on this mindset and in their professional growth. We believe that you cannot have a successful company without both pieces of the puzzle.
What do you want to say to the women out there who are listening to this and just feel bad that they might need help?
Here’s what I say about juggling it all, is that, think about it as if you’re juggling balls, and some of the balls are glass and some are rubber, and your clean house is a rubber ball and your health is a glass ball. So make sure that the balls that you’re dropping are rubber and not glass. You’ll always be dropping balls. And the other thing is everyone needs help. Even male founders aren’t nervous about asking for help from their friends or their business advisors. You are more successful, you’ll make more money faster, you’ll make fewer mistakes, and you’ll save time when you actually enlist help with your business.
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