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What I wished I’d known at the beginning: lessons from seven female founders

lessons from seven female founders
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When is the right time to start a company? How to lead others, but also yourself? How to run a successful company, but also tend to your family needs? How to avoid burnout? 

These questions occupy the mind of every entrepreneur but are especially relevant for female founders. So, The Recursive reached out to female founders in the SEE innovation ecosystem to ask them what they wished they had known at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey. Take a look at what they have learned and want to share along the way. 

We hope this will encourage you to also share your story in a comment below to inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs.

#1 Start fast and fail fast.

“When you are after entrepreneurship, the best school is life. So the piece of advice I would give to my younger self is: start fast, fail fast – it’s ok! The only thing that matters is to execute.”

lessons from 7 female founders

Read more about Denitza Tyufekchieva in Bulgarian-led Propy pioneers in selling real estate as an NFT.

#2 Don’t aim for perfection, just do it.

“Starting is the hardest part. I was planning a lot, then I was waiting for a ‘decent’ design of the MVP, then I was looking for a ‘good’ moment to approach customers. We had all the reasons to delay. Well, that took us 1 year. And the weirdest part is that the cost of that 1 year of total ineffectiveness is increasing each year, like penalties when you don’t pay a bill on its due date. So, I wish I had started right away, no matter the embarrassment, the rejections, and the lack of perfection that comes along with the first weeks of effective work in a startup.”

lessons from 7 female founders

Read more about Adriana Ancuta in the Romanian circular fashion startup that aims to change the way women do shopping

#3 Ask questions and learn from other founders’ journeys. 

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“I wish I would have asked more other founders at more advanced stages to learn about the things they went through.”

lessons from 7 female founders

Read more about Alina Vandenberghe and how to achieve great things you have to inspire others to do good work.

#4 Don’t do everything yourself, rely on your team. 

“Sometimes, the difference between success and failure comes from receiving the right kind of support and encouragement. In my case, it comes, most of the time, from my partner, Daniel, who challenges me to exceed my limits with every new project. I wish I found out sooner that I can’t do everything by myself and that relying on other people – our team, our partners, the Kinderpedia community – not only gets the job done easier but is far more rewarding.”

female founders

Read more about Evelina Necula in Romanian edtech startups that are riding the wave of booming digitalization.

#5 Investing in your personal development is good for your business.

“1. Your business growth and personal growth go hand in hand. Investing in becoming a better version of yourself is the best investment you can make for your business too.

2. Diversity is key to the success of your team. The sooner you embrace different people than you and your co-founders, the more powerful you become. In the ideal world, you will all be different and at the same time united under the same mission.

3. Motherhood can teach you some of the best lessons of leading a team. It’s about empowering other people to see their qualities and skills and develop them further, not controlling what and how they do it.”

female founders

Read more about Maya Zlatanova in the who are the female leaders in the SEE innovation ecosystem piece. 

#6 Getting out of your comfort zone is the best way to grow. 

“There are plenty of things I wish I knew when I was younger:

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– how your mindset can hold you back, 

– how getting out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to grow (still struggling with this, but I am more aware now),

– how it’s ok to let others do things differently than you (I used to think of certain things how I would have to do them forever because ‘nobody cared as much or did it the right way’; but when you find the right people, people that genuinely care of the result and have more time to focus on things than you, they will do things differently than you, but better than you, and that’s awesome).

I wish I had known that it’s ok to let go of certain things and close some doors for others to open. I think I tended to believe certain things would last forever, that includes both big highs and lows. But nothing lasts forever, change is just around the corner. Sometimes it’s up to you to make that change and that change can be a just conscious choice to view things from a different angle.”

female founders

Read more about Ioana Hasan in this how Bulgaria and Romania lead “women in tech” rankings piece. 

#7 Everything will work out in the end.

“I wish I had at the beginning of my career the conviction that everything will work out in the end. If you are driven by purpose and you have a bigger ambition than simply for yourself, the results inevitably come.” 

female founders

Read more about Lubomila Jordanova and how to avoid greenwashing in your decarbonization efforts

UPDATE

“Know that there is always a way and there are always second chances. Nothing is lost forever – you just need to never give up, don’t stress, and be persistent. Finally, I wish I’d known that being direct doesn’t always serve you good – be firm, but also spare people’s feelings and consider their demands.”

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female founders

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive with 10+ years of experience as a freelance writer based in Bucharest, Romania. Her mission is to report internationally on the amazing progress of the local startup ecosystems while bringing into focus exponential projects developed in niches like health and education or by female entrepreneurs.
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