What is one piece of advice you'd offer to other female founders based on what you have learned?
This is one of the questions I asked the many female founders I interviewed as part of the research I conducted to develop Breakthrough Labs.
These interviews were fascinating; the academic in me immediately wanted to write a paper using these data -- but I didn't have time! At their core, the interviews helped me understand the needs and pain points of the female founders I would be working with, but they also surprised me in their similarity. I interviewed female founders from all over the UK and several other countries. These women were from different cultures, age groups, professional and educational backgrounds and their businesses were in different industries. Yet their answers to this question were overwhelmingly consistent.
Their one piece of advice to other female founders: be resilient. As a founder, you're going to face a lot rejection on this journey and you just have to believe in your idea and keep going. You have to be resilient.
The academic literature covers resilience in many fields:
Medicine: Why do some people recover from illnesses while others don't?
Environment: How can the environment recover from disaster or destruction, whether natural or human-made?
Business: How can we build businesses that can survive economic downturn or changes in market or customer base?
Psychology - and now education: How can humans suffer great personal hardship and still lead healthy and successful lives?
As a solo female founder myself, I'm not enduring anything especially tragic, but I do feel like I'm on an emotional roller coaster sometimes. As I've been building Breakthrough Labs, I have encountered just as many disappointments as victories, and during the disappointing times I often reminds myself of the female founders' advice. I believe in what we are trying to do with Breakthrough Labs (if you don't know what that is, see this and this) and I know that for things to change, the change needs to start somewhere. Sure, I may throw myself a little pity party every once in a while, but I've been through harder things than this, and I'll keep going. I have resilience. Just like all the female founders we are trying to support.