3 Women Who Started Their Own Businesses Share Their Best Piece Of Advice
Whether you're working to expand your side hustle into a full-time operation or just have an idea you know could be huge, taking the first steps toward turning your dream into an up-and-running business can be daunting — especially if you've never done it before. These days, it seems like everyone on the internet has advice for starting a business, but sometimes it's best to begin by taking a step back, evaluating your needs, and looking at the bigger picture.
"You have to be ready to actually take yourself on this journey, and I think in order to be able to do that you have to be really convinced you’re solving a real problem that has a lot of merit," Tzvia Bader, co-founder and CEO of TrialJectory, tells Bustle.
Bader would know; TrialJectory, a company she created in 2017 to connect cancer patients to clinical trials, won $10,000 from investors in November after she presented her business to judges at WE Pitch, a pitch event hosted by WE Talks for women-led start-ups. "Just having conviction in what you’re doing will help you get through a lot of the hardships," Bader tells Bustle.
If you're looking to start your own business, sometimes it can be helpful just to hear from people like Bader who have been exactly in your shoes — what challenges they faced, what experiences surprised them most, and what, if anything, they would do differently. Bustle spoke to the three finalists of WE Pitch about what inspired them to build their own business — and what advice they wish they had heard when they were first starting out.
1. Tzvia Bader, Co-Founder & CEO, TrialJectory
Bader knew from the start that not only was her business idea good, it was crucial. Bader started TrialJectory, a company that helps cancer patients find clinical trials best suited to their needs, after beating malignant melanoma herself. "I found out I had cancer, and I had to start fighting for my life," Bader says. But when she first tried to find out more information about her condition online, she was frustrated by how little easily accessible information was actually available for patients. So, she decided to do something about it. “I felt this mission to use technology and my knowledge and experience to help other patients," she says. "That’s what brought TrialJectory to life.”
"You’ll meet endless amounts of people who will tell you why you’re wrong, and why they know better."
Once she had an idea in place, one of Bader's first steps was to build a diverse and knowledgable team of researchers, product managers, and more who shared her same vision for helping patients quickly find access to treatment options that were right for them. "We all sat together and said, 'OK, if we believe in this mission, if we believe we can find a way to do it, let’s sit down and build it, and see if it’s possible,'" Bader says. "So that was the first thing — we wanted to really get on board and prove the validity of our statement."
Since starting TrialJectory in 2017, Bader says her biggest challenge has been to convince other people of the importance behind her mission. It's her own conviction in TrialJectory that has made her a better entrepreneur, she tells Bustle. Her advice for other people looking to get their company off the ground? Make sure it's something you 100 percent believe in. "You’ll meet endless amounts of people who will tell you why you’re wrong, and why they know better," Bader says. "But if you have the strength and the strong belief that you are right, you will be able to pull through and be successful."
2. Mandi Nyambi, Co-Founder & CEO, Le CultureClub
Mandi Nyambi is the co-founder and CEO Of Le CultureClub, a service that recommends highly personalized skin care products to customers based on their unique skin needs. Nyambi and her co-founder first started Le CultureClub as a newsletter with a simple goal: to decode the ingredients in many popular skin care products.
Nyambi, who comes from a science background (she studied stem cell biology at Harvard), tells Bustle she spent years managing eczema and sensitive skin herself, and was often frustrated trying to find products that worked for her. "I was literally reading research papers [...] to figure out the best ingredients for my skin, and therefore what products I should purchase," she tells Bustle. She knew there had to be a better way.
"Talk about your idea early and often. There's nothing to be afraid of."
The response to Le CultureClub's newsletter was so strong, Nyambi knew they were on to something — but deciding to take the leap to turn their idea into an actual business wasn't easy. "One thing that we were really afraid to do at first was tell people we had this idea," she says. "We were very protective of it." But, she says, it was largely through talking about her idea — especially with potential customers — that the shape of the business began to take form.
Nyambi says she did dozens of interviews with potential customers to figure out what exactly they were looking for when it came to their individual skin care needs, and used those responses to help guide Le CultureClub's mission as a company. Most recently, Le CultureClub expanded its services by launching a free online tool that can help people figure out if the ingredients in their skin care products are the best match for their skin, simply by copying and pasting a link to the product.
"We've felt that the best advice we ever got was from our customers, or potential customers," Nyambi tells Bustle. And that, she says, is what she wants other entrepreneurs just starting out to keep in mind. "Talk about your idea early and often," she says. "There’s nothing to be afraid of. One thing my mom kept telling me [...] was if you fail, it's fine. You need to go out and at least try to fail first before you decide that you failed. So it was getting over the fear of failure, and just talking about it. It’s when we started talking about it that we learned so much more. "
3. Jess Riegel, Co-Founder & CEO, Motivote
Jess Riegel first started motivote as a capstone project while she was a grad student at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service. She and her co-founders had just attended the Women's March in 2017, and were looking for ways to keep voters' energy and momentum going. "It got us thinking, how do we ensure that this wave of energy and enthusiasm that we’re seeing right now, how do we make sure that it actually translates into long-term concrete civic action?" she tells Bustle.
That's when Riegel and her co-founders began conceptualizing motivote, a digital accountability platform that seeks to not only mobilize young voters to actually go out and vote, but to encourage them to rally their own networks of peers to go out and do the same. With the semester coming to an end and graduation right around the corner, Riegel and her co-founders decided to see if they could turn motivote into an actual business. "We realized that this is really what we wanted to do, and it was sort of a now-or-never moment with the midterms coming up, and the current political moment that we're in," she says.
"Lean into what you're doing, and know that you're going to get a ton of rejection. There's pushback, and that's how you get better."
Riegel says one of her first tasks was to literally learn how to handle rejection. "We connected with some advisors over the summer who were like, 'Here are some different activities to prepare yourself to become good at being rejected,'" she says. "They were like, 'Go out and do something every day that will get you rejected.' Like, literally going into a bar and asking for a free drink — just ridiculous things, and then [we would] write it down and [we'd] talk about it."
It may seem silly, but Riegel says it actually helped when it came time to start pitching her business to new partners. "Lean into what you're doing, and know that you're going to get a ton of rejection," Riegel says. "There's pushback, and that's how you get better."
Of course, when it comes to turning an idea into a business, not everyone's trajectory will be the same. But, it can be good to hear from other people about what worked for them, especially if you're wondering what to do next.