How Mrs. Moneypenny Opened My Eyes To Business: By Rosa Sanchez
The First Step is Knowing You Can Do It
It’s an exciting time for women, the era we live in. Female entrepreneurs are coming into the spotlight from corners of the world carrying groundbreaking ideas we didn’t even see coming. It’s fascinating, this change of pace in the air, and for female founders like myself, it could not be more inspiring. But we are not there yet.
However ambitious, strong-willed and intelligent many of us may be, we are still often held back by the fact that we still (somehow) live in a male-run society. Not society, world. It’s changing, but it has not leveled out yet, which is why – though we may not realize it – we tend to think less of ourselves simply because society expects it. As Mrs. Moneypenny puts it in her wonderful book Career Advice For Ambitious Women, “as a gender, we are conditioned to please.” Now she does not mean this sexually, she means it in general. As women, we tend to like making people feel comfortable, just like we ourselves like to feel needed, wanted, appreciated – even in the workplace. Something which probably explains why women tend to stay in the same position/company much longer than men.
I understand that we are all different, but I do believe that as a whole, we need to be stronger. We need to have the courage to say “no” when we mean no and “hell yes” when we mean yes. We need to believe in ourselves and in each other, because if we can bring other humans to life through our lady parts, we sure as hell can run a business – if we try.
Defining Your Priorities is Key
When I first read Mrs. Moneypenny’s chapter on priorities – where she suggested we create a clear and truthful priority list before even beginning to think of growing our business – I was a bit reluctant to take her advice, possibly because I was scared of how harsh the reality might seem once I put it on paper. It was harsh. It was hard for me to admit to myself that in order to make my business grow, I would have to be quite selfish, for a very long time. I would have to give up things I enjoyed, like going to social events every weekend, or sleeping in on Mondays, or even spending every other night cooking dinner with my boyfriend. I would have to be selfish, and I would have to be focused, because otherwise my priorities would become blurred, as would the finish line.
On the bright side, I also learned that priorities always change as time goes by, and the fact that this business is my goal now, does not mean I won’t have other goals in the future. I know there will come a time when I can dedicate myself more fully to the people that I care about, and a time when I can sleep through the night without thinking I’m only wasting valuable working hours. But that time is not now, and I have to embrace that, if I plan on being the entrepreneur I wish to be.
You Are Not Too Cool For School
I’ve always been annoyed by people who bring up billionaires like Bill Gates, Ralph Lauren, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, and make it a point to say that they succeeded without a full education. Yes, they did, but they also worked their asses off to build their companies, and nothing came easily. And how about the other thousands of successful business owners who did get a college degree and even went off to do a Masters or a PhD? Who talks about them? The fact is that the more prepared you are in the field you want to succeed in, the better your chances are of succeeding in it. It’s true that many people are not able to afford a quality education, and that is extremely unfortunate, which is why success stories like that of Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jan Klum (WhatsApp) and Jack Ma (Alibaba) are so inspiring. But if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity of receiving an education, WHY would you not take advantage of that? Laziness is not a sign of an ambitious woman, dedication is.
Building Your Network is Essential
Yes, education is key, but one of the greatest outcomes you can get out of attending a wonderful school and learning from wonderful professors, is the network you gain out of it. When I first started my brand, I dealt exclusively with people I went to school with, or with colleagues I had worked with at other companies. It was not by choice, it simply turned out to be much easier to engage with people whom I was comfortable with and whom I knew shared similar interests to mine. These people became both my main contributors and my biggest audience. It was not until about three months after I launched my company that I started expanding my network – and oh how it has helped! Since I run a lifestyle (and now part business) blog, I deal with yes, bloggers. I also deal with models, brand representatives, PRs, designers, CEOs, editors, etc. It’s a surprisingly small circle, and the domino effect is very real, but the key is to get yourself in. Once you’re in, it all becomes much easier, though then your job becomes trying to remain there – not only that, making yourself known. Mrs. Moneypenny suggests things like hosting monthly lunches or weekend meetings, or even starting an email chain to keep track of what everyone is up to in your circle. It sound simple, and it also sounds a lot like socializing with friends, but that’s the fun of it. When the line between work and daily life disappears, that’s when you know you love what you do, and you’re doing it right.
You Cannot Have it All
Possibly the greatest lesson I learned from Mrs. Moneypenny’s Career Advice For Ambitious Women is the fact that – against all expectations – I am not superwoman, and neither are you. I’d be completely delusional if I convinced myself that not only am I able to build an entire business from the ground up, but also make it immediately succeed, while also maintaining a healthy relationship, paying my rent on time, keeping in touch with friends, staying fit, eating right, getting enough sleep, socializing, etc. It simply does not happen, which is why it was so important for me to define exactly what it is I want at this moment – not in ten years, but now. For example, I know that in ten years I will want to have a stable income, a nice home and possibly even a family, but at this exact moment, what I am focused on is growing my brand. That’s it. Because this is my one priority, I like to make sure that at least 90% of my energy goes straight to that. I say 90% because I am also realistic, and I know that even though I am building a company, sometimes I need a break. Whether that comes in the form of grabbing dinner with friends, going for a run in the park, or even taking Sunday mornings off to go shopping, it doesn’t matter, but that 10% is absolutely essential in keeping me – and anyone else trying to start a business – at least a little sane.
Because I am a big fan of saying things as they are, I will honestly tell you that right now, my brand could be doing a lot better in terms of money, and I know exactly why that is: I take things very personally. When it comes to content, I only write about things I care about and brands that matter. When it comes to sponsorship (something a great majority of bloggers rely on for income) I simply cannot make myself accept a deal with a brand, or a feature with a product that I do not believe in. When it comes to contributors (which, if I hired more, would greatly help in terms of workload) I am extremely picky, and will only accept people whom I know will understand my vision, voice and message. Because this business is my baby, I take every action much too seriously, and while this has hurt me in terms of finances, I believe it has helped me in terms of quality. For example, I know for certain that the brands, creatives and professionals I work with are entirely reliable, and connecting with them has been so special due to the fact that we chose each other for our missions, not for the money.
One of my favorite sayings by a strong female entrepreneur is “fall in love with the process, and the results will come.” That is how I like to run my brand.
My finance friends would argue that this is NOT the right way to manage a business, and in many ways I agree, which is why I started Golden Money, and why I chose to read Mrs. Moneypenny’s novel. It’s opened up my eyes, and I hope it does the same to you.