Combining entrepreneurship and legacy as a formula for success
By: Aleksandra Mihajlovska
How often do we hear “You can’t have it all?” As women especially, we are told that we need to make choices in life. You can build a successful multi-million dollar business OR you can build your family. You can be a powerful leader or you can have a life.
Don’t believe the myth! It is possible to build a highly profitable business or a successful career that is profitable, sustainable, and fulfilling. Entrepreneurs like Katerina Rothman, owner of Beflax Linen, prove every day that women can build a business, a legacy and a life on their terms.
Let’s take a look at some real-world secrets for building a sustainable, cross-generational business.
1) Find your guard rails.
The people who tell you to choose between success and happiness always give advice based on their personal experiences. But just because your friend can’t take care of building an empire while tucking their kids in bed every night doesn’t mean you can’t get it to work.
You have to find your own guard rails. Rothman knew from the start that she had two non-negotiable commitments:
I wanted to build an eco-friendly natural linen business that wouldn’t force my customers to choose between luxury and affordability. And I wanted to start a business that would give me time with my daughters.
She created a company that is truly sustainable in every way by:
- Realizing that she can’t do everything (Rothman’s mom, with her incredible sewing skills and extensive knowledge of fabrics, is a great inspiration for the business).
- Hire the right craftsmen to create beautiful designs and comfortable fabrics that their customers will love.
- Partner with others who are (almost) as passionate as Rothman about the environmentally responsible, comforting, and temperature regulating benefits of flax linen.
By refusing to compromise on the things that matter most to me, I have control over what matters. I know I can find a workaround if I have to.
[Related: 5 Things Successful Women Do That Others May Not]
2) Take action.
Taking action can be one of the toughest lessons for new business owners and young professionals alike. In our eyes, we have a choice between standing there when we don’t feel ready or waiting until we figure everything out.
Waiting will always be the easy way – and the quickest way to nowhere. The only way to learn, improve and develop yourself is to take action. As Rothman says:
Trading wasn’t an option for me. I was an entrepreneur at heart and I wasn’t afraid of anything. I watched my mom naturally bring her passion for sewing and love for quality fabrics to help others. My way was clear.
Building your business or career is not about having the most experience or being the smartest person in the room. It’s about having the courage to take action.
And Rothman continues to be brave. When the Belfax Linen e-commerce shop opened for the first time in December 2017, the response was overwhelming. Rothman had to make some quick decisions about distribution and some suppliers suggested that they compromise on packaging. But she insisted on finding another way. To this day, their packaging is 100% recyclable, without plastic.
Go on! Take action even if you don’t feel ready. Take a risk even if you feel uncomfortable because that is why you are moving forward. Only when you leave your comfort zone will you learn more about your hidden powers and your true potential.
[Related: The Great Pause, or How to Tailor Your Dream DVF Style]
3) Go your own way.
Pushing ourselves to start a new business or find ourselves in unfamiliar situations can make us feel insecure. We can be tempted to compare ourselves to everyone else. We can feel unworthy of taking up other people’s time that we admire.
What helps in these situations, says Rothman, is reshaping the situation. They have unique skills that bring you to the table and it is when you use them that you will find your strength.
Don’t let anyone tell you if your focus is on building a sustainable future or building an old business to pass on to your children, you may not succeed. Never forget that you – and you alone – can define success.
Instead of looking at what others are doing and trying to create something similar because you believe the market will reward it, go your own way. After JK Rowling published the Harry Potter series, thousands of authors wrote similar books. None of them were nearly as successful as Harry Potter.
Create a community that supports and inspires. Find the people who match your values and unique mix of skills. They are waiting out there for you.
Successful women like Katerina Rothman are out there and don’t even think about joining the myth that they can’t have it all. You break down barriers every day and prove that you can do the same. All you have to do to get started is find your guard rails, take action, and go your own way!
[Related: Three Things You Must Do Immediately as a New Leader]
Aleksandra Mihajlovska is a theater actress and communication professional. She uses theatrical instruments to work on the personal and creative development of people of all ages, with a special focus on youth, girls and marginalized groups. She leads workshops on communication, conflict resolution, intercultural dialogue and advocacy through art.