Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs and their Winning Attitude
We all want to know the secret formula behind what makes a successful entrepreneur. We as females, often look to other women as role models to inspire us. This blog will explore the backgrounds, challenges and attitudes of three very different exceptional female entrepreneurs: Arianna Huffington, Sara Blakely and Michelle Mone. All of whom display a different combination of our Winning Attitudes.
It’s easy to sit back and assume that it was a simple journey, down to luck or a case of ‘right place at the right time’. What we don’t see is the level of persistence, grit and dedication that goes on behind closed doors.
Arianna Huffington is my example of a female entrepreneur with burning ambition and dogged determination. Huffington is a prolific author and international media entrepreneur who started the global news platform The Huffington Post, and has since launched her new company Thrive Global in August 2016.
But how did she do it? What attributes does she have that have made her successful? Do they fit with our Winning Attitude research?
Huffington began writing books in the 1970’s but it wasn’t until 2007 where her book ‘Thrive’ became an International Best Seller. In this thirty-year gap, she was accused of plagiarism and started two separate online media platforms – arrianaonline.com and resignation.com – before succeeding with the Huffington Post in 2005.
Huffington clearly displays the attitude of ambition and determination, exemplified by selling The Huffington Post in 2011 to AOL for more than $300 million and becoming one of Forbes ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’ in 2014. As Campbell (2015) notes, the ability to cope with pressures and setbacks acts as the opportunity to excel.
Her latest venture, at the age of 66, is her new company Thrive Global, a digital start-up platform dedicated to health and wellness.
Sara Blakely invented Spanx, the hugely popular line of shapewear for women in 2000. Blakely is my example of a female entrepreneur with constant curiosity and maximizing opportunity.
So how did she go from selling fax machines to being the youngest female billionaire in the world? What attributes does she have that have made her successful? And do they fit with our Winning Attitude research?
In 1998, while working as a fax salesperson, Blakely couldn’t find any undergarments to go with her white trousers. So, as she would later explain to Forbes, she created her own solution; ‘I cut off the feet off a pair of panty hose and it allowed me to wear a pair of great strappy sandals.’
She credited her father with helping her develop the courage to be an entrepreneur. “My father encouraged my brother and I to fail. I specifically remember coming home and saying. ‘Dad, Dad I tried out for this or that and I was horrible,’ and he would high-five me and say, ‘Way to go’.’ He didn’t attach any negative stigma to failure in fact it was encouraged.
In March 2012, Blakely made the cover of Forbes magazine as the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. She wasn’t afraid to fail, and she made the most of the opportunity when it presented itself in her creative imagination.
Michelle Mone is a great example of a female entrepreneur with unwavering belief, burning ambition. Now a Baroness and with an OBE, Mone has become one of the UK’s most influential ladies as her reach as an entrepreneur, global speaker, designer and innovator is wide.
Let’s explore what attributes made her successful. Baroness Mone, experienced a very difficult upbringing, she grew up in impoverished East End of Glasgow and at the age of 15 years old her father fell ill and declared paraplegic and wheelchair bound for life.
She was forced to leave school without any qualifications and search for full time employment. She was made redundant after two years in a sales and marketing role in a Glasgow Brewer. As an only child after losing her younger brother to Spina Bifida, Mone has since admitted to exaggerating qualifications on her CV in order to get jobs.
Research has identified external forces, both positive and negative can act as a drive for success. McCann (2015) describes a ‘Move From’ mindset, where the biggest driver behind success is the fear of failure and to prove others wrong. Negative external forces have the ability to aid the hunger and drive to succeed. She built up Ultimo Brands and MJM International into a £40m international business, and Mone ranks among the UK’s most successful businesswomen.
At Zircon we are fortunate enough to have our very own inspiring female entrepreneur. Amanda Potter founded Zircon in 2000 with £100 from her bedroom. The business moved from her bedroom to a state-of-the-art converted garden shed, and in the present day a hugely successful consulting business.
Amanda is known for her single-minded focus and determination. She stated ‘My belief is that in order to be successful you need to have the drive and energy, confidence in yourself and your ideas and a determination to succeed. You also need the resilience to pick yourself up and brush yourself down if you do not succeed’.
We all want to know the secret formula behind what makes a successful entrepreneur. Zircon’s research concluded that there are 10 Winning Attitudes and the exceptionally successful individuals will exhibit a handful of these attributes.
To read more about what makes up a Winning Attitude from the point of view of 42 business savvy corporate CEOs and edgy entrepreneurs, committed Olympic and sporting stars through to charismatic media personalities, please take a look at our White Paper.