Ankita Terrell and Emily McDonald are the women behind My founder circle, a community designed to support female founders as they start, grow and scale their businesses. They caught up with Jessica Abo to talk about how they help female founders boost their businesses and how you can too.
Jessica Abo: Ankita, let’s set the stage for a second. How many female founders start their own companies every year and how many of them make it to the fifth year?
Each year, 2.6 million businesses are started by women. Now the actual number is probably much higher, as many solo entrepreneurs never register as a business. And of those, 50% fail in year five. So only about 1.3 million make it to year five and beyond.
And why do you think that is?
Often the timing of their launch is off, the product-market fit isn’t right, or maybe they just don’t have the right tools or community to help them succeed. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey and we want to change that.
Emily, when women come to you, what are some of the challenges they face?
Women usually come to us when they already have a business, already have revenue and already have customers, but really don’t know how to scale their business. They often feel overwhelmed. And I actually built a seven-figure fashion business myself and I faced the same issues, so I totally understand. They don’t know what to try and what works. And there are so many options before them that they feel alone and overwhelmed with how to get from where they are today to a more scalable, successful and profitable business.
Ankita, when you say you’ve helped top founders boost their growth, what does that look like?
Emily and I have very unique experiences. She built a seven-figure business. I worked in venture capital before, worked for a startup and in a non-profit organization, and I went to business school. So between us, we’ve both done and studied what we learn. So we help founders boost that growth through highly tactical support. We act as their co-founders. We also provide a lot of support for mindset growth. So both tactical support in group and one-on-one settings, and also a small group community they can lean on.
I recently heard that we have over 6,000 thoughts a day, and 85% of them are negative. So how do you help your clients and your students who are in that negative mindset? How do you help them move?
We want to remind our founders that having negative thoughts is very common. It’s very common to encounter bumps in the road as you grow a business and as you grow as a person. We support founders very intensively, both in groups and one-on-one, and help them overcome their limiting beliefs. We want to hold up a mirror to you and help you be the best you can be. We invest heavily in learning different modalities and techniques to become better founders and now better coaches. Many times we had to learn these techniques and modalities and we continue to learn them and engage outside support to help our founders.
And as Em said before, we have a lot of experience. She built a seven-figure business and overcame many of these challenges. I’ve worked in non-profit and venture and B Corps finance and absorbed a lot of what makes a company successful. And with a plan and coaches who really believe in you as a person, you can go a long way.
And just to add to that, we just want to remind the founders that some of the things that you view as negative that are happening in your company are ultimately some of the biggest growth moments and some of the things that will lead you to some of your biggest successes lead. .
Speaking from experience, I think whenever I’ve hit rock bottom, climbing out of that process has always led me to my next offering or my next program. So that brings us to growth. How do you advise people when it comes to growing their business?
What I want to encourage founders to do is invest in helping, or join a community, or hire a coach, or find an advisor who can really be there for you in a more effective capacity, someone who you can bounce ideas off of, someone you can be very honest with when things go wrong. You need that support. You cannot build the business alone. And it really takes a combination of mindset and strategic work. So when we work with founders, we build a strategic roadmap while also building this mindset and their professional growth. We believe that you cannot have a successful business without both puzzle pieces.
What do you want to say to the women who listen to this and just feel bad that they might need help?
This is what I say about juggling everything, think about it as if you were juggling balls, and some balls are glass and some are rubber, and your clean house is a rubber ball and your health is a glass ball. So make sure the balls you drop are made of rubber and not glass. You will always drop balls. And the other thing is that everyone needs help. Even male founders are not nervous to ask for help from their friends, from their business advisors. You are more successful, you earn more money faster, you make fewer mistakes and you save time when you actually enlist help with your company.