In 2016 I left my job as the CCO of a very successful tech scale up. I wanted to start a journey by myself in this great big world and on my own terms. I had the classic struggle of finding a balance between my personal life and my passion for my team and my customers. Before that, even when I worked at large corporates like Apple, I always felt I was in control of making my own choices and I wanted that feeling back.
Many around me including some of the people closest to me said I was crazy starting my own business. But I had nothing to prove to them. I’ve never been someone who stays on the path of traditional expectations. I had to follow my gut. I wanted to help tech companies become customer centric and contribute to the world by evangelizing my obsession for customers.
Now 2 years later, I am still in the middle of the journey, but loving every minute of it. I am the proud co-owner of 2 other tech companies that I co-founded along the way, next to my first love Q10 Consultancy. For the like-minded women, I would love to share how I sustain my entrepreneurial spirit.
I truly believe confidence is the most important aspect in any entrepreneur. Ever since I was a young girl I have been lucky enough to have been brought up by my parents who made me believe that I can be anything I want, without any limitations. My father even made sure I was able to maintain my own car, cause he always said, you do not need to rely on anyone unless you choose to. I lived and travelled all over the world which gave me a different and amazing perspective to life which helped me grow in my confidence and independence at a young age. That is a wonderful start in life and a luxury to be raised this way I found out later in life.
I feel we (women) are our own worst enemy. You are only limited to what you think you are. Not, what anyone else thinks. So be confident. Believe in yourself and your business.
Trusting your Gut
You are given this beautiful thing called soft skills which entails your gut. In the past I have tried to ignore it but it always proved me right. So be in touch with your inner self and trust your gut. It is always right. Even if it makes the path you travel on for a moment more difficult.
Create a team around you with expertise on things you are not as good at. I’ve learned very early on you cannot do it all. No one can. So make sure you hire people with the right mindset and a skillset different from yours which is complementary. Stay positive. Positivity is lifesaving. Learn from failure and take the best of it and grow. Positivity is an important trade of any leader, it equals that you have problem solving skills, something everyone needs. This in combination with confidence (note this is not arrogance) is a killer combination for a female entrepreneur.
Embrace Your Soft Skills
We don’t need to become men. It is important we embrace our soft skills. Female entrepreneurs spend more time in business on things like empathy, relating to their customers and actually bringing that vision to the market.
Today in Tech, where we are living in the ’age of the customer’; meaning the customer has (almost) all the power and the vendors need to listen to them, it is of most importance to have a customer centric company. This is what women are so amazing at. This will distinguish your company from most competitors and eventually it will grow your business tremendously over the longer term if you take care of your customers. They will come back every year and grow their business and tell other potential customers. Recurring revenue is essential nowadays, so use this strength!
Find a Mentor & Network
As an entrepreneur in Tech but also as just someone in the working world I always love to have a mentor. Someone I can bounce ideas off. This can be an expert in your field or other female entrepreneurs or both. And think outside the box on this. I have a mentor who has nothing to do with my line of expertise, but is a great business woman and does not even live here in Holland. With the internet the world is your playground. I mentor as well. Find someone or a group you can connect to, that you admire and make it a win-win situation. Advice and mentorship needs to work both ways and once you find that safe space to unwind and share experiences you will find quickly you will be learning from each other.
It’s been said enough time, but it’s important, make sure you have time for yourself. Don’t lose sight of your priorities.
As a single mom of a 4, 5 year old with my own businesses, time management, a great backup network, and making priorities is of the essence. Luckily nowadays we can all work flexible. If I need to be home I choose to be home. But sometimes it does not work, then don’t sweat it. Give yourself a break and think ’I do the best that I can’. Meditation is great and what I always try to do is go outside a lot, for fresh air and moving. So after lunch I always take a walk when I can, to clear my head and prioritize my afternoon. I like to talk to people while walking. You create better high quality conversations when you take people out of the business environment.
Women are natural entrepreneurs and leaders because of their attention to detail and their ability to multitask. It’s very easy for us to look at the little things, and that’s what matters to being an entrepreneur. All we have to do is believe in ourselves.
About the Author
Martine Niermans is the Owner at Q10 Consultancy, a company that focuses on helping companies to create the best customer experience and journey. She founded Q10 Consultancy because of her passion for Customer Success and the growing Saas industry. Due to her international upbringing she came in contact with different cultures from an early age. She took the best of all worlds in terms of service and this is how she takes customer success to the next level.