Last week, on International Women's Day, we launched our month-long campaign to spotlight some truly inspiring women amongst our staff, customer community, and wider partner network. Women who have not only broken biases to become incredible business leaders within their industries but are also working hard to create new opportunities for others.
Women like Lindsey Wilkins, Owner and Operator of Pleasant Water Sports, who have fought and continue to fight through the fear, the doubt, the hardships to achieve their dreams and set examples for the rest of us to follow.
This second entry to our four-part series is going to focus on telling Lindsey's story, from working for a start-up to launching and running a very successful business, we are excited to share what we learned with you.
Entrepreneurship isn't just in your blood... it is in your attitude
MakeShift: Lindsey your story is truly inspiring for us. The world needs more female entrepreneurs. In the US, female entrepreneurial activity is a meager 16.6% - even though businesses started by women grow faster (84%) compared to men-owned businesses (78%). Clearly, there is still work to do. This is why we are excited to chat with you. You are, in essence, a serial entrepreneur! Tell us a little about your journey.
LW: Sure! My dad is an entrepreneur, so I grew up in that world. You can say Ihave always been drawn to it. I used to work for a start-up that was geared towards helping small businesses and entrepreneurs. I also started a couple businesses- an off-road four-wheeler rental company, and an escape room- prior to starting Pleasant Water Sports. So, it is really a story of one thing leading to another... oh, and a lot of government red tape.
MakeShift: Ha! Hold that thought because we are going to discuss the challenges you faced (and still face) in a minute. But, first, I need to ask... as a successful entrepreneur what would you say is the key to succeeding as an entrepreneur?
LW: Good question. I would say the key is learning. You will learn from experience. You will learn from others. You will learn all the time. Because, let me tell you, there will always be things that don't go as planned but you need to learn from it and find a way around it.
MakeShift: That's an amazing answer. Ok, let's circle back to challenges. You touched on that with your red tape comment - which would also explain the 16.6% number. What can you share with us about the challenges you have faced?
LW: There are challenges every single day. But, here's the thing, as an entrepreneur, you are constantly in problem-solving mode. There is no obstacle you can't overcome... even when things look like they are dead in the water, there is a way around it. You need to be resilient.
"Secretaries can't sign papers"
MakeShift: Over 35% of female entrepreneurs experience gender bias. What has your experience been like?
LW: There are times when as a woman you are not taken seriously. Like this one time, I went in to buy jet skis and was told that "a secretary can't sign these papers", to which my male partner responded, "well, it is a good thing she is the owner". So, if you ask me if I have experienced bias? The answer is yes, but, it is an exception, not the rule in my industry.
MakeShift: What advice would you give to other women who are looking to start and run their own business?
LW: It is easy to be scared of things that can go wrong - and trust me they will. But, you have to be willing to take the risk. You have to be willing to put in the work. Everything can be overcome.
Helping people have fun, is a really fun business to be in
MakeShift: Lindsey, that is great advice! As we wrap up, give us a few highlights of being an entrepreneur. What do you love about what you do?
LW: I've talked about the fear every entrepreneur faces, especially as you start spending money... But there is also this indescribable sense of accomplishment that you feel when you see something come to fruition. You start with this idea and you wonder if it will work, and as it slowly progresses, you see people start getting excited about what you are offering. It is great. And, hey, providing a service that is all about people having fun, is a really fun business to be in!
The theme for this year's International Women's Day is #BreakTheBias. To learn more about the biases women face and how you can help break stereotypes, visit internationalwomensday.com
Join us next week for part three of our four-part series spotlighting some of the amazing women who work very hard to #BreakTheBias in their communities, workplaces, and lives.