May 11, 2017
From 2010 to 2012 I hemmed and hawed about officially launching Her Corner.
Me? Start a business just for women? That sounded so … *girly* … or something.
You see, I’d been raised professionally with men, all my mentors were (and remain) men, most of my professors were men, and frankly, I like working with men.
And yet, there was a thread that ran through my life that made this move so obvious – to everyone but me. I attended an all-girls school from elementary through high school. I worked in corporate America running the women’s initiatives. I went back to business school and participated in the women’s clubs. I obsessively read every report I could find on how and why women were (or were not) succeeding in business (corporate and entrepreneurship).
But I was scared. Feminism in the business world wasn’t mainstream yet. I didn’t want to be perceived as a crazy man basher. I also didn’t know whether there was any money in this. And launching yet another business (my fourth), and this time, exclusively for women, was risky. Was I willing to sink more money into a new business? A new website? A new suite of offerings? Would anyone want what I was offering? Maybe there was a reason it didn’t exist.
But one day something bigger than my fear turned on. It was my anger (some people will tell you that anger is fear turned inside out). I became angry that all the smart, motivated and ambitious women around me weren’t more successful in their businesses. Darn it, these women had risked a LOT, spent hours upon hours launching and working in these businesses, put themselves out there and made themselves vulnerable. And yet … those businesses were not thriving.
And that made me angry. It wasn’t fair.
But then I realized: I know how to fix this!
Despite my fear, I knew that women support other women. We want to help one another. We are natural connectors. Put us together, and we’re going to ask, “How can I help you?”
And in that moment, my fear was trumped by my anger and conviction that I could help. And that belief, my own personal why, has never wavered. It has helped me manage the ups and downs of launching, running, and now growing a business that so far has helped almost 1,000 women grow their businesses.
If only it hadn’t taken me two years to get there.
Frederique Irwin is the founder and CEO of Her Corner, a peer-powered consultancy dedicated to accelerating the growth of women-owned businesses.