When Grace Bonney began conducting the interviews that would result in her new book “In The Company of Women,” she knew that she didn’t want to write a book that only spotlighted the good parts of being an entrepreneur.
“I don't learn something from seeing someone’s highlight reel,” Bonney, who founded the popular interior design and DIY site DesignSponge in 2004, tells us. “I chose to interview people who were open to talking about being vulnerable.”
That search for openness and honesty also led Bonney to look for women from all walks of life to profile.
“The idea of starting a business can seem really scary,” she notes. “But there are so many ways to start a business, that I wanted any woman anywhere to open this book and see that this can happen for them.”
Bonney shares some advice for women who envision working for themselves one day.
Don’t listen to anyone who says you’re too old
While it can seem like most entrepreneurs today are in their 20s and 30s, the reality is quite different.
Artists like Amalia Mesa-Bains had been working for over 50 years before striking out on her own in her 70s.
“There is so much to be said about life experience,” says Bonney. “There shouldn’t be an arbitrary barrier that you can’t do something after 40, especially for women who had children earlier. If you want to start something, it’s definitely not too late.”
Success can mean many things
“People are beginning to understand that there’s a difference between money and success,” explains Bonney. “The two things are not the same. Personal fulfillment is equally valuable.” It’s important for new entrepreneurs not to compare themselves to much with peers and to come up with goals that fit their lives.
There will be ups and downs
Especially in the case of writers and other creatives, becoming a boss and learning how to supervise others has unique challenges.
“When you are used to being a solo operation like a painter or an artist, there is sort of a clunky transition as they become bosses. We’ve all struggled to find that [authoritative] voice.”
Bonney stresses that new small business owners should give themselves time to learn how to manage a company and be willing to learn on the job.
Accept that balance doesn’t exist
After conducting the 100 interviews that make up her book, Bonney says there’s one important thing almost everyone told her.
“There’s no such thing as work-life balance,” she says. “Everyone in the book says they gave up work-life balance. They realized that they couldn’t be all things at all times.”
Instead of stretching yourself too thin, aspiring entrepreneurs should find a support group of peers they can bounce ideas of off and commiserate with.
“I don't feel successful every day, there are days that I struggle,” Bonney explains. “Having people who are going through what you are going through and have the right tools in their tool kits is important.”