Contributed by: Chloe Taylor
Female entrepreneurs have been leaving their marks in business world for decades, but their stories are rarely heard in this mostly male realm. Today, we are righting this wrong. The stories that you will read are told by women that are so different from each other, yet have one thing in common – determination. Learn from their experience.
From Teen Mom to Radio Maven
When Cathy Hughes got pregnant at 16, everybody thought her life was over. But for her, it was the challenge that forced her to shift her priorities and put her selfish needs behind. Her radio career began in 1969, and by 1975 Hughes was already named a general manager of a radio station. But she had bigger plans. In 1980, Hughes and her then-husband got the opportunity to buy their own radio station, WOL-AM. Turned down for loan by 32 bankers, she did not give up. Finally, the 33rd banker said ‘yes’, but this was just the beginning of struggle. The marriage ended shortly after, Hughes lost her home and car due to sky-high interest rates, so she and her son had to live in the WOL offices. But despite all the challenges, she became the first African-American woman to lead a publicly traded company and today Radio One, as the largest black-owned radio chain in the USA, has 65 stations. Last year, Hughes was inducted in the Advertising Hall of Fame.
From Rags to Riches
As a female entrepreneur in India, Patricia Narayan faced many cultural and social barriers, but she knew that there were no success stories without struggle. At the age of 19 she married for love, despite her family’s opposition. Her husband soon turned out to be an abusive alcoholic and drug addict. The way she saw it, she had two options – to succumb or to fight. She chose the latter. In order to become financially independent, she used the only skill she had – cooking. First, she started selling homemade jams, pickles, and squashes, and then in 1980 she decided to set up a kiosk on the Marina Beach in Chennai. On the first day, she sold only one cup of coffee, but did not capitulate, and her earnings slowly started to rise. Another huge setback came in 2004 when her daughter died in a car accident. Devastated, Patricia kept herself away from business for a while, but then returned even stronger. The recognition of her success came in 2010, when she was awarded the FICCI award.
A Stay-at-Home Mom Turned Real-Estate Investor
Until 2006, McKellar Newsom was raising her daughter and left all the financial worries to her husband. But one day, the company he worked for closed its doors. They had to live on their savings, and they knew that it would not last forever. While her husband concentrated on finding another job, Newsom started reading books on investing and how to turn your savings into cash flow. In 2007, she made her first offers on foreclosures and soon recognized the investment potential of the collapsing real-estate markets. She even moved from Montana to Tennessee to be closer to her main investment targets. You can learn a lot about house flipping strategies from this lady who currently holds 27 rental homes.
Zandra Cunningham, a 15-year-old girl from Buffalo, NY, seems like an ordinary teenage girl, except that she is not. This teenpreneur has been selling her own line of beauty products, Zandra Beauty, since the age of 10. The idea came to her when her father refused to buy her a lip balm and told her to make one. She listened to him, tried, and succeeded. Later, her dad lent her $500 as a business loan and today her line offers a wide range of naturally produced beauty products. Although she missed out on many teenage stuff in her life and is often not taken seriously because of her age, Zandra never regretted the decision to start her own business.
These stories have one common message: Despite your circumstances and your background, if you really want something, you can do it.
We hope you were inspired and encouraged by these brave women to follow your own dreams.
About the Author
Chloe Taylor is an art historian, recreational ballet dancer, and a contributor at smoothdecorator.com. She is passionate about photography, dance and music. Her biggest dream is to travel the whole world and take some stunning photographs of beautiful places. She also enjoys learning and writing about various aesthetics, business and psychology related topics. You can find Chloe on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.