How do you feel about being women entrepreneurs? Karen: We can find synergies where we can agree and accept that we wont agree on everything. That’s the psychology of women working together. It’s different than most male companies. In general, all studies have shown, generally more women work in collaboration better than a male dominate company where there is more of a literal hierarchy. It was our goal: we would be equal partners and the collaboration between the three of us. A woman-run company is different than a male-dominated company. Anne: I belong to The Commonwealth Institute, a womenrun organization. I’m part of a CEO forum for women business owners that support each other and help each other with the challenges of running a business. Karen: Whether I’m a woman or a man, I’m getting the job because I’m good. What is the most difficult part of being entrepreneurs? MB: Starting the company. The three of us we weren’t really able to just quit our jobs and just start the company because we had all this capital sitting in the bank. We drew up a business plan and we went to the Small Business Association and asked to be considered for a loan. We realized that we had a service we were providing we didn’t have a product so there was no chance that that was going to happen. So we said, “we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it on our own.” What a wonderful thing to be sitting here 17 years later. It really made us charge forward. No one’s going to help us. Anne: None of us had a good sense of what running a business was. None of us have had business degrees. None of us had a real business plan with financial projections and profit and loss statements. We are all really creative-idea people. So it’s the naïve approach and just continue to believe that we can do this. MB was doing the checkbook by hand and we were off $500. We learned very early on and we have core strengths and we bring on the experts consultants for HR, tech, and financial. Each of us is gravitating to manage this side of the business. MB works with financial services, I work with human resources, Karen works, with technology partners. We didn’t realize that all that came with running a business—best quality design and services. We had to quickly learn.
Karen: You can have an entrepreneurship mind. Someone who is an entrepreneur will fail two or three times before they succeed. Why did we succeed? There are a couple of layers: we chose to deliver a service that we were actually good at. We had a proven track record, our work had won awards, had been in books, and we had taught design. We had a strong track record in what we wanted to build the company around. You have to stay very focused if you’re going to be a good entrepreneur. You get to a roadblock to climb over it and get it around it. Being part of a team is part of being a really good entrepreneur. MB: Being an entrepreneur is also who you are as an individual. We have it in our DNA. This is what we’ve always wanted to do. It’s an adrenaline rush of not knowing. That is like the ultimate high. We are constantly pushing ourselves to go into the unknown for that rush. We’re diving off of a cliff to keep that energy and momentum because that’s who we are as people. Anne: All three of us have a low tolerance for boredom. How we can capitalize on that? How can we make this more interesting for ourselves? All these kind of things add value to the bottom line.