15 Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Business Advice

We've talked to many successful female entrepreneurs, creatives and business owners in our The Makers series, and we always jump at the chance to ask them just how they built their businesses from the ground up. From being patient to leading with kindness, their nuggets of wisdom and business advice are never far from our minds. Below, you'll find their stories of what these inspiring women wish someone would have told them when they were getting started.

So, whether you're thinking about starting your own hustle or just need a little inspiration in your professional life, these career tips will do the trick.

15 Successful Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Business Advice

1. Lillian Khallouf, Fashion Designer 

“Be patient, all good things come to those who work for it. Fashion is a tricky business, there are many falls before you. But it’s so rewarding and so worth all the falls. In hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing but I would advise anyone who wants to start a business to work alongside someone they aspire to be like or follow in their footsteps. Experience comes a long way.”

2. Kelly Thompson, Illustrator

“I had a business partner once who started off great, but actually ended up not treating me as a partner at all. Learning to let go, 'fail' and say 'this is no good for me' was a damn hard and stressful process to go through and terrible at the time, but now I’ve realised that once you get through, it doesn’t matter—I’m not scared to stand my ground or 'fail' again. I say 'fail' in quotation marks because in hindsight what seems like a failure at the time very rarely feels like it a year later—you always learn so much.

Be authentic, be true to you and never give up. Trust me you will want to at times, though it's always toughest before a break through. The only way out is through."

3. Emica Penklis, Founder of Loco Love

"Take responsibility for things that are hard and work through them even if you don’t want to. 

Another strategy is to seek the knowledge of someone more experienced to help guide and mentor, something we have been doing lately. As far as tools Instagram has definitely played a huge role in getting Loco Love noticed.

I would say another tool or strategy that has helped us grow is being unique, we have always done our own thing and stayed authentic to our values."

4. Courtney Adamo, Lifestyle Blogger

"Just start! Start where you are and use what you have and do it. You might fail, but you will have learned and grown from the experience. And one experience leads to the next.

I’ve learned that when you make yourself vulnerable, when you launch or share a new project, you set yourself up for criticism or judgement. Sadly, it’s human nature. I’m the eldest child from a big family, so it’s my nature to want to please everyone. I’ve learned the value of trusting my inner voice, and caring less about what everyone else thinks (within reason, of course)."

5. Ana Piteira, Founder of Reliquia Jewellery

"I always recommend that people just get started. It can take a while to build momentum so the sooner you get started, the better. The second most important factor in my opinion is persistence. “Success” or what one considers to be success might not happen quickly, but if you get started and keep going, chances are five years down the track you will be surprised by what you can achieve.

As the owner of a PR agency, when I started my brands, I certainly practiced what I preached. Especially at the beginning, my goal was to see as many people as possible wearing the jewellery. I wanted to create a community around the brands, but also demonstrate that a diverse group of women could relate to and enjoy the brand. This idea has been the most crucial in developing the loyal following for the brands for which we are so grateful."

6. Ilana Moses, Founder of Grace

"Trust your gut and just do it!

Growing up I never considered anything creative as a viable career option (call it a sign of those times), so I chose a ‘sensible’ route into law. But I was always doing creative things like collecting art, sketching etc and I have always loved anything design-related, from interiors to graphic design. When we moved to New York I was working as a lawyer part-time and the free time enabled me to dabble in fashion design. One thing led to another and I launched a label there."

7. Kara Demmrich, The Block star

"Although I’ve always known I’d love the process of renovating, I didn’t set out to make a career out of it. I studied Physiotherapy at University and worked for six years as a Physiotherapist, whilst renovating of an evening and on weekends. 

The advice I’d give to my younger self is to not have so much self-doubt. We’re all individuals who have something unique to offer – be confident in that."

8. Leigh Campbell, Beauty Content Creator

"Do everything with integrity and with your audience in mind. And don’t get into media for the salary!"

9. Sophia Kaplan, Co-Founder of Leaf Supply

"It’s great to learn and understand all parts of your business, but if there are things you really don’t enjoy doing (for me, bookkeeping) and can afford to delegate, hire someone to take this off your plate so you can focus on growing the business and doing the parts that you enjoy. Also keep in mind that not every business needs to be a huge corporation. I am ambitious in some ways but am also very happy with the smaller size of my operation. Don’t feel like you have to follow someone else’s path, do what feels right for you.

I have been incredibly lucky to have a strong network of friends who hired or collaborated with me from the start. I’ve definitely still had to prove myself, but it made starting out a little easier. At the beginning, I said yes to everything. This helped me get a tonne of experience, make lots of connections, and build my business. Now, since I am a bit more established and also have a little kid, I am in a position (privileged, I know) where I can be a bit fussier about what I take on. How to balance the creative and the commercial has been an important lesson for me. When you’re starting out, most of us have to do as much as we can, but it’s also important to step back and look at what direction your business is going in. Does it reflect who you are and what you want out of life? This will change as you navigate different stages of your life and career, but be sure to check in and make sure you’re still enjoying what you do."

10. Madeleine Whitter, Co-Founder of Ayu

"Go for it! Try to find something that you absolutely love doing, because starting your own business takes so much of your time and energy, and if you love what you are doing it won't feel like work.

Running your own business is never the typical 9-5 Monday to Friday. It's late nights and weekends. Giving 150% of your energy all the time. My challenge is remembering to set aside time for my beautiful family and of course for myself. I'm always looking to achieve the perfect work-life balance."

11. Lucy Roleff, Artist and Musician 

"Don't underestimate the power of just chipping away at a new skill or venture. Too often I feel we want to be proficient at something straight away, and we feel a bit scared of just working at something bit by bit, even when it feels really good to do, because we can’t quite envision the outcome.

When I started my freelance business in illustration, I had zero experience with commission work – but over the months, little jobs lead to bigger ones, and I just learned as I went."

12. Flex Mami, TV Presenter and Podcast Co-Host

"You have to start doing stuff, learn from it, and do it again. I feel like everyone is good at saying what they'd plan to do if they had more time, more space, more resources etc. and that's so boring! You just need to do.

I feel like you don't know how best to do something until you just do it, which contradicts a lot of the advice of plan, plan, plan. What I would find is that I would spend too long on the planning stages and not enough on the execution and then wonder what went wrong. I think the hardest thing to do is to risk putting out work and then using that feedback to make your best work."

13. Sophie Kovic, Founder of Seed & Sprout

"Find a mentor that’s done what you want to do. My mentor changed my life."

14. Jessica Nguyen, Home Chef

"If you believe in it, are truly passionate about it and have done your research to know there’s a gap in the market that needs it, just do it! You’ll never regret trying even if it fails, but you’ll always regret letting those ideas and opportunities pass you by."

15. Mafalda Vasconcelos, Artist

"Just go for it and never expect others to do the work for you. If there is a will, there is a way. Believe in yourself and never give up on your purpose. I wish I had started earlier, and I wish I had faith in myself when I was younger."

Here are 6 books written by female leaders that will inspire your career.

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