Help me! I’m a woman entrepreneur and I need a man to tell me how to move my startup forward. Really? Well, not quite. You see, what I need are allies (men and women), people who genuinely want to help out another entrepreneur because they can, and I’m not opposed to the guy or gal who wants some financial stake (after all, this is business) – but often that requires me reaching out to you or you extending an ear in the first place.
If you’re a woman in startup land, I have no doubt that somewhere in your journey some guy has given you unsolicited advice. It’s happened to me. In fact, my business partner Coach Dawn and I were just talking last week about the number of men we meet (some who literally have just shaken our hand at introduction) who immediately go into – “here’s what you need to do …” or my favorite “Women don’t need that” without realizing that his behavior is one of the many reasons why our work got started in the first place.
Men have tons of media outlets that cater to their entrepreneurial and innovative ideas. Hell, most of the articles you read in a mainstream entrepreneur magazine are catered to and written by a man. We flip that at Lioness by creating a space for women to engage in startup land with content that is written by and for us talking about our challenges and helping women solve some of their most basic – but crucial – needs like marketing, funding and sales strategies. With the current business climate and leadership gaps in our industries, having the confidence to meet those challenges isn’t easy. So we offer empowering programs and coaching sessions that give women the mental toughness, accountability and clarity needed to pursue their passions with purpose.
When Coach Dawn and I were having a frustrating week last month, we fell into a great pow wow with Liz Roberts, the general manager of the accelerator program at Valley Venture Mentors. It was one of those venting sessions you need to relieve the tension. We told Liz about some of our recent frustrating experiences and she immediately understood. Liz, who has a long history in tech, reiterated we were going to meet some guys who will make assumptions right off the bat because we’re women and/or entrepreneurs of color. Some people were just going to simply be assholes but it was our duty to make sure we had a clear and concise message for our business.
And she was right. We’ve been working with some wonderful and supportive men since Lioness was first a really cool idea. There have been a variety of them who have contributed knowledge and expertise to move us along because they believed in our mission of elevating, educating and supporting the female entrepreneur. Sometimes it’s easy to let a few duds spoil the whole pot. We need male allies who want to even and diversify the playing field to make the startup world and its creations that much more rich.
What were some of your challenges last month?