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Have you ever been to a business event and you were literally the only woman in the room?
Being a minority in any room can be a challenge when trying to network and influence people. Women face this problem especially in certain male-dominated business environments such as technology networking events or investors meetings.
I vividly remember being the only woman in almost every room when I became an entrepreneur 10 years ago. I’d wear manly clothing, utilize more traditionally male body postures and language, always sat at the head of any table to be seen, and even took up drinking scotch to try to fit in. But those rooms are changing. As more and more women take on founder roles and find prominence in the business world, there are more women in each room and each woman is taken more seriously just as she is.
Moreover, more women today are finding the right market for their passion – one element that can increase the chances of being successful.
Julia Shih is one such founder who has made the leap into entrepreneurship. Her new company, Body & Soul, is dedicated to creating chemical-free, CBD infused products that help recovery and enhance performance. Its vision is to help athletes of every age to train harder, recover faster, and maximize performance.
Shih is a basketball player who has experienced the joys of playing competitively, and the pains of multiple injuries. After experiencing five knee surgeries including the removal of her left meniscus before her 18th birthday, her fate seemed certain: a lifetime of pills to combat inflammation.
Motivated by the pain she felt from injuries and growing tired of ineffective treatments, Shih did her own research to come up with a treatment. She focused on natural ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties and worked to find a lasting solution that would enable her to regain her ability to play basketball. Working in a rented lab, sometimes until two or three in the morning, Shih tried hundreds of different combinations of plants and herbs to make the ultimate healing cream.
Her research ultimately led her to create Miracle Sports Cream, a plant and herb-based concoction made for athletes to heal themselves without putting harmful chemicals into their bodies. The final product speeds recovery thanks to natural ingredients including high-CBD full spectrum hemp oil and arnica montana. Customer have loved the product and Body + Soul is transitioning from an early stage idea to a growth mode company.
It’s not easy starting a company and creating a product from scratch. Women like Shih lead busy lives, leading a successful career in technology and going home to cook dinner for the family. Many sacrifices had to be made to get the company to where it is now. Her drive to succeed came from a deep passion to help others heal in the same way she’d been able to heal herself enough to now being over 40, in the best shape of her life, and playing competitive basketball again.
All the hard work feels worth it when you know you are transforming the lives of people. Shih said she never tires of hearing about how her customers can do things they had been unable to do for years. One particularly inspiring story she told was about a woman who played and taught guitar for 40 years, but had to stop because of the arthritis pain in her hands. “Because of the cream, she was able to go back to doing something she loved,” Shih recalled.
Her persistence in perfecting the cream, going after certifications to ensure safety, and selling the product to new markets are actions that personify what it means to be an entrepreneur. That, and a lot of hustle. Shih talked about a time she met Mark Cuban and excitedly asked him if he could get some of her Miracle Sports Cream to Dirk Nowitzki, Cuban’s aging star forward for the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban brushed it off as just another random pitch. But Julia used Cuban’s dismissal as inspiration. “His NO motivated me to work harder at putting myself and my company in a better position down the line to get a YES.”
Shih’s advice for handling the very real stresses of founding a new company?
Break your challenges into manageable steps. “You would be amazed what you can accomplish one small step at a time. The key is to keep moving.” She advises women to be proactive and focus on their own goals rather than being reactive to what other people are doing.
Businesswomen have a tendency to shy away from being perceived as overly forceful or self-assertive, hoping that their real-world results will speak for themselves. Shih is an example of a woman who is constantly perfecting her product and working hard to gain prestige for her brand. And, she advises women to be proud of the good work they are doing. “There’s no shame in letting people know,” she said. “In fact, people may never know unless you tell them.”
January 26, 2019 at 03:55AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs