This month we’ll be doing personal interviews with our entrepreneurs. We’ll kick off this month with Yvonne DiVita…see what she has to say about being a women entrepreneur!
Q. What did you expect when you set out on the journey to start your own business?
Yvonne: Well, I expected to be my own boss and to help people improve business by…learning to communicate better. I noticed, back then, that too many people weren’t trained in writing for the web. My goal was to help them understand the difference between writing for a print publication and writing for the web.
Q. Is being an entrepreneur everything you thought it would be?
Yvonne: Yes. It really has helped me grow exponentially – my own writing has improved and I find that I learn as much or more from my clients, as I teach them. It’s a win-win partnership.
Q. What kinds of challenges have you faced that are unique to women in entrepreneurship?
Yvonne: One area that has not actually changed much is financing. Women still don’t get the funds they need to improve and grow their businesses. I’ve had to bootstrap most of what I do, and while I’ve managed to succeed, I often think about how much further ahead I’d be if a bank or lender had taken a chance on me. Also, there is a perception that women aren’t as serious about their work, as men are. It’s as if we’re just “playing” at being a successful business person. When, in fact, we aren’t. Women are strong in entrepreneurship – we’re good managers, we value technology, and we partner with others to provide a wide range of resources, not just within our business, but externally, also.
Q. What advice would you give to women who are thinking of starting their own business?
Yvonne: I’d say go for it. I’d say, don’t waste a lot of time trying to ‘plan’… yes, planning is important, but if you try to plan for every contingency, you’ll lag behind. Learn as you go. Be prepared to stumble and fall. Get up, try again, and learn from your mistakes. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Find someone, a significant other (mine rocks! I could not do any of this without Tom), a sibling, a best friend, or just an admirer, and share your worries with that person – they’ll help identify true issues and minor inconveniences.
Q. What skills have been the most important in getting you through the challenges you have faced?
Yvonne: Like many entrepreneurs, tenacity has helped me the most. Even in the face of doom (how am I going to pay those bills? what about new clients, old clients, any clients – how do I get them, where are they?), I’ve kept my nose to the grindstone and succeeded. I spend a lot of time reading to learn more about what I need to know, that I don’t actually know. And, mentoring. I’ve been fortunate to have a great mentor in Bruce Peters of CEOHQ and from a client, Lee Thayer, both who are focused on leadership. Another thing that’s been very influential is my gut feeling about people. When I’ve had second thoughts, things have not gone well. When I’ve been confident, things have gone fantastically.
Q. When you think about the future of your business, what keeps you up at night?
Yvonne: I don’t stay up much. I do wonder where my business is going, short-term. I wonder if I should begin thinking of selling – so I can retire. Then, I wonder what I’ll do when I do retire. Truth: I’ll probably start another business.