Did you know that in 2022 only 1.9% of venture funding went to woman-founded ventures? Think about that… Out of $100 of venture money, only $1.90 went to female- founded companies. Women are still sorely underrepresented in the business world.
When I first started EB, I put my entire savings into this ‘crazy bra venture’, paying for the first patents used in our bra technology, and even doing the first patent drawings myself to save money. Those patents allowed me to attract an amazing investor that has backed us through thick and thin.
Today, Evelyn & Bobbie is thriving with an incredible team, a growing catalog of world-class products and the best customers in the world. But it hasn’t always been easy. With my own experiences in mind, here are my top five tips for women dreaming of starting their own business.
- Write a business plan. Most people will say that you don’t need one. Sorry ladies, but I call BS. You need a business plan for yourself. Putting it down in writing forces you to think about each aspect thoroughly and you’ll be more prepared to answer questions from investors. Keep in mind that your “plan” is pretty much guaranteed to change. But you will still do better – and be more prepared to pivot – if you write a detailed plan up front. Updates to your business plan help you track the evolution of your ideas. Most critically, if you aren’t crystal clear on how you’ll make that first dollar (who will pay you, why, and for what), you don’t yet have a business.
- Learn about powerful body language. This is a very important and sometimes overlooked topic. We learn in subtle ways starting at a very early age about so-called feminine (often deferential) body language. Watch yourself on video. Understand how your body language – things as simple as turning your head to the side, or making a statement with a question–might undermine the authority that you convey in your area of expertise. Take up space; use long pauses; count to three before responding… Whether you're raising money or simply asking for a raise, poise, posture, and directness matter.
- Stand tall. Be comfortable in your own skin. It’s a continuation of the previous point, but I started this company because as a woman in business my underwire bras were getting in the way of me feeling & performing my best. An uncomfortable bra can actually cause you to slouch (it’s called a neuromuscular feedback loop), and that’s a no-go. EB bras were created to be ‘gear for life’ so you can focus on the task at hand, unencumbered. So I mean it when I say, wear EB bras and underwear everyday, so you can stand tall and lead from the heart. That’s our motto for a reason.
- Someone has to be first, and that person can be you. Remember, if you’re the first person to create something new, a lot of people will tell you “if that were a good idea someone would have done that already.” Lord knows I heard that too many times to count. True innovators know that’s not the case. Someone is going to be first – why not you?
- Don't share everything. Be cautious when sharing key pieces of your business, especially competitive differentiators. Trust your gut on what to share and what to hold close to your vest. Even when talking to prospective investors, it's always ok to say "I'm not ready to share that, but if the relationship advances, of course I’ll be an open book." Also remember that people close to you often want to keep you safe, so don’t assume that your family and friends are going to cheer you on from the start.
Whether you are a creative mom who is working on a side hustle or a soon-to-be-business-mogul, I salute you. Our success opens up new options for the next generation of women.