In October, serial entrepreneur, author and speaker Jen Groover — founder of the popular Butler Bag, among other revolutionary ideas — was a featured panelist at the Inc. Women’s Summit in New York City. The annual event gathers both new and notable female business owners, entrepreneurs and experts from across industries for a day of discussion about successes, struggles and strategies.
Here, Groover shares her exclusive behind-the-scenes take — plus a few of her insider tips — with Beauty for a Purpose.
1. Entrepreneurship is cooler than ever.
The night before the summit, all the speakers gathered for dinner with executives and writers from Inc. I sat next to the magazine’s publisher and talked about the evolution of entrepreneurship. It didn’t used to be cool; people often viewed entrepreneurs as failures who couldn’t make it in the traditional business world. But today, entrepreneurs are the new superheroes. The field is now celebrated on a completely different level because we’re embracing the fact that people want to create and build their own lives.
It was also fun to talk to the other speakers and hear what they’re experiencing in their careers. Entrepreneurs love sharing stories because it gives new insight and creates camaraderie — it’s a like a burst of energy.
The lesson: If you want to be an entrepreneur, hang out with entrepreneurs.
2. When women support each other, we all rise.
On the morning of the summit, the room was filled with a really powerful vibe — it was a sold-out event with a mix of aspiring, new and seasoned entrepreneurs, representing 30 countries. I believe that entrepreneurs, especially females, have a very supportive energy when they get together (versus the mindset that there’s only room for one or two at the top). But my fellow panelists and I agreed that lack of confidence and sense of self-worth is often what holds women back.
The speakers who addressed social impact – including Elizabeth Gore, the entrepreneur-in-residence at Dell, and Shiza Shahid, co-founder of The Malala Fund, reinforced the idea that when we come together to support each other, we all grow faster. Case in point: When Shahid came to the U.S. to expand The Malala Fund, Gore was one of the first people she met who helped her figure out her next steps. Shahid’s experience was that one of the greatest gifts is to introduce women to other women who will help their cause.
The lesson: If we remember that our actions impact others, we can create a greater world more quickly.
3. Know your worth.
Since I have the perspective of an entrepreneur in the trenches, the focus of my panel was how to raise money to scale your business. I challenged the audience to be creative — after all, capital isn’t just money; human capital is our most powerful asset, so think collaboratively.
To that end, millennials especially (the focus of another inspiring talk) want to be part of what’s happening and to take ownership and responsibility. Within business today, success and satisfaction often derives from having more autonomy and the freedom to perform.
The lesson: Be creative, be clear about what you’re good at and don’t shy away from a leadership role.
4. Never give up — but it’s OK to take a break.
The co-founder of a tech startup told the story of how she almost destroyed her business by being overly confident. Amazingly, this go-getter started her company at a young age, but an inflated ego caused her to lose her footing and created friction with the people who were there to support her. About to go bankrupt, she was able to navigate a successful comeback.
How did she do it? She walked away for a few months, and in that time found insight. That’s a consistent strategy for entrepreneurs. Instead of overworking, they often find success when they take a step back and have some introspection, seeing the bigger picture with a new lens.
The lesson: Build your personal brand in a unique way that hasn’t been done before.
5. Your uniqueness is your power.
All entrepreneurs who’ve had uber-success share the above belief system. Once you embrace that idea, things begin to thrive. This particular day was very celebratory in the successes that women have — the audience had a renewed sense of, “I can do it!” But the best speakers are always the ones who are the most authentic and transparent — they’re the ones who impacted the audience the most.
The lesson: You can take words, wisdom and practices from other people, but you need to authentically be yourself to be the best you can be.