Being a woman in business can be a lonely journey. Female founders across the globe are turning to online communities for support and connection.
It’s been 12 years since Jacqueline Arias founded República Organic, but she still gets a thrill when she sees someone pick up her brand’s coffee in the supermarket.
“It’s still a humbling experience when somebody that doesn’t know me makes the choice to buy what I’m offering versus the big multinationals,” she says. “Our brand is organic, fair trade and biodegradable – we do so many good things – and people really connect to that.”
The Australian founder and CEO has built a thriving business. But she knows firsthand that being the one running the show can be a lonely experience.
“What most people don’t realise is that being an entrepreneur is a really lonely journey,” she says.
While there are incredible highs and freedoms that come with running a business, there’s often nobody to lean on during the lows.
Reaching out to other women in business has helped Jacqueline gain perspective: “It’s critically important to tap into networks,” she says.
Throughout the pandemic, female entrepreneurs around the world have been turning to online communities for support and connection.
Jacqueline is a member of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneurs Network (DWEN), which gives female founders around the world valuable business resources and a community to turn to in tough times.
As part of DWEN’s Wise Words With series, Jacqueline shared her top tips for fellow female founders.
Tap into community
Many female founders don’t plan to go into business – they see a problem that needs solving and run with it. For Jacqueline, a trip to her birth country Colombia in 2005 changed the course of her life.
She realised the coffee grown on the mountains near her hometown was being shipped overseas, manufactured into instant coffee, and sold back to Colombians at massively inflated prices.
The local coffee farmers were getting a raw deal and she wanted to do something to help them. Back home, she quit her job as a journalist at the ABC and put her all into the business.
República Organic is now an award-winning and widely recognised fair-trade coffee brand and a certified B Corp.
Jacqueline says she’s always had a sense of resolve, which has helped her in business.
“My mother brought me up on the philosophy that everything in life has a solution – except death,” she says.
“I pass that on to my kids. Barriers don’t exist. Everything can be overcome. I want to share that with other women as well.”
But Jacqueline’s still faced big challenges in her 12 years in business. She says having a strong community around you is crucial when you face roadblocks as an entrepreneur.
“Having a key network of people is vital to your success. That’s where organisations like DWEN play a big role,” she says. “Networks give you have access to people doing similar things to what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis.”
Women in business often face similar challenges, wherever they are based. Jacqueline says being part of an online network like DWEN has enabled her to seek and share advice with a huge range of women entrepreneurs – and gain a truly global perspective.
“Not only can I tap into a female entrepreneur in Australia, but I can also tap into female entrepreneurs all over the world,” she says. “They may be experiencing the same problems that I have – so we can workshop those problems together.”
She says she feels a genuine sense of support from the other women in business she’s connected with.
“One of the things that I find when speaking to other female entrepreneurs is that there is no ego – so you’re not competing for position, you’re not jockeying to prove who does something best,” she says.
“What you’re doing is experience sharing, to see how you can get a better outcome. I find that really comforting.”
Be constantly curious
Jacqueline says to be successful in business, female founders should be constantly learning, and investing in education really pays off.
Having access to tailor-made resources for women in business can help rapidly speed up the learning journey. DWEN members gain access to best-practice tips, the latest technology, as well as funding resources and global networking events. They can ask advice from fellow female founders like Jacqueline, who know exactly what it’s like when the buck stops with you.
“There are so many pieces of advice I’ve been given over the years,” Jacqueline says. “One of the phrases that really sticks out for me is: believe in the task and the result, before you start.
“You’ve got to believe that you can do this and that you are going to be successful – and that carries through to your team.”
In partnership with TED, the global ideas platform, DWEN is running a series of exclusive live events and networking sessions for members. Join female founders like Jacqueline for sessions on June 22, July 15 and Sept 21. Find out more at https://dwen.com/ted-dwen/