Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration Disney on the Road event in Washington, DC. This one day conference brought together social media moms from around the DC Metro area to experience a little Disney magic while hearing from women entrepreneurs. While the entire event was fantastic, the highlight for me was hearing from Jennifer Labit, founder of the global brand Cotton Babies and mother of four. A recent recipient of an MBA, Jennifer could have spent her time running through the basic tenets of business administration or highlighting the key takeaways from her coursework. Instead she imparted to the group a series of business truths, gleamed from years of building an incredibly successful business from a $100 investment, all while balancing work and family. Her presentation was refreshing – both insightful and inspiring. Some of my favorite moments include…
- Define your rules and values for yourself and for your business. Be sure to not only know what is important to you, but also to communicate those values to your entire staff. The people who represent you need to know what matters most to you.
- Define your goals for your business. Know what it is that you want as well as what it means to get what you want. If you don’t clearly define your version of success, how will you know when you’ve achieved it?
- Have an exit plan so that you know when you’re done. What does being done look like to you? Are you done when it isn’t fun anymore, when you’ve been bought for a specific number, when you’ve reached fifty?
- Think about the process you want to engage in to grow your business. What is your focus? Expanding? Becoming the best in one area? Develop a strategy that is good for you and your business, but to the exclusion of what is happening around you. Focus on what you are doing, not what everyone else is doing.
- Decide who you’re going to follow as you move through your business life. If you follow people just like you, you will never move forward.
- Understand intellectual property. Creators win when they keep creating. Be better than and ahead of the people copying you.
- Take time to think about what lives outside of you. Look beyond the balance sheet. Do good.
- If you can’t take a hat off your head and hire help, your business will never be bigger than you. When it’s time to expand, do it one task at a time, deciding which job hat you are willing to relinquish first.
For the last five years I’ve heard from well-meaning friends, most of them male, who have tried to redefine success for my business and my life. If only I would build, grow, expand, sell, outsource, pitch – work harder, bigger, stronger… It was incredible to hear a remarkably successful – by any definition – businesswoman empower a ballroom full of female entrepreneurs to create their own definition of success and present an open ended description of what it means to have an exit plan. Success for me will always mean creating financial stability for my family while truly enjoying life – including plenty of time focused on my family and not my business. I walked away from Disney on the Road with a renewed belief that running a small and consistent business within an otherwise full and blessed life means that I am a successful businesswoman. Sometimes being reminded to trust yourself is the most valuable advice of all.