14 Female Entrepreneurs On The Greatest Lesson They Learned In Their 30s

finding success in your 30s
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While our 20s are often considered to be a time of self-discovery and gut-wrenching growing pains, our 30s can be characterized by learning from those lessons and using that newfound confidence to supercharge the next chapter of life. It’s during this decade that plenty of so-called “good stuff” comes to be for a lot of women — from excelling in our careers to getting hitched and having babies. But while it’s an exciting time to, well, be alive, it’s not without challenges. So, in honor of Women’s History Month, we asked 14 inspiring female entrepreneurs to share the greatest lesson they’ve learned. Here, they pass on their best advice for finding success in your 30s.

 

c/o Jill Robertson

Balance is not a static state

“Early in my thirties, I was struggling to find any semblance of balance. A career I am passionate about, two small children, a husband with an equally demanding job – all important aspects of my life that were not in alignment. My best friend, who is yoga teacher, reminded me that balance is not a static state, but rather a series of small adjustments. It is that continuous state of learning, of growing, of changing that allows a person to find stability, navigate change, and discover the confidence to chase down your dreams. My best advice is to be bold. Be Brave. Be authentic. Go for it. The only factors that can limit your potential are self-created,” —Jill Robertson, 39, Principal and Landscape Architect in the Edmonton Studio of DIALOG

 

Shane Evans

Less than perfect is acceptable

“I’m a true entrepreneur: I strive for perfection, and I tend to have lots of ideas that I want to bring to my team right away, so sometimes it can get overwhelming for them. I want to be a part of everything and be the best at doing it, but that tends not to be the most conducive approach to creating a productive working environment and relationships. I had an unrealistic expectation of myself and others, and my unrelenting pursuit of perfection stole joy away from myself and those closest to me. I had to learn to not expect that of myself; just expect the best that I can do. It was a long yet healing process of looking introspectively. With that, I learned to love myself more, despite what I thought were ‘flaws.’ By not focusing as much on perfection, I was able to focus more on my health and loving myself,” —Shane Evans, 48, co-founder and president of Massage Heights

 

c/o Lauren McGoodwin

Trust your gut

“When I was starting my business five years ago, I hired a fancy sales consultant to help me identify my revenue streams. Thousands of dollars later, I had an ‘expert’ telling me to remove half my services and just focus on the media advertising portion of my business. My gut disagreed with this, but I also kept thinking, ‘she’s the expert.’ Fast-forward to today, and I’m so happy I ultimately listened to my gut. The digital advertising world has changed a lot in five years, and I would not be able to sustain my business had I not diversified. So, the lesson here is to trust yourself, be kind to yourself in the process, and realize that no one is truly an expert — we’re all figuring it out as we go,” —Lauren McGoodwin, 32, founder at Career Contessa and host of The Femails podcast

 

c/o Lindsey Elmore

Be exactly who you are

“In my 20s, I felt so much pressure to be a prescribed version of beauty and status. I went into debt buying things I didn’t need, struggled to overcome the bulimia of my teenage years, and used stimulants to stay thin. In my 30s, I finally heard the advice: Be exactly who you are. Realizing that I was imperfectly perfect gave me the freedom to accept my body which not only empowered my wellness, but my voice, my finances, and my business. I climbed out of more than $150,000 in student loan debt because I no longer felt obligated to buy objects. This has been powerful for my business because I can now take bigger financial risks. I went to therapy and worked with a communications coach to help me better express my opinions clearly without being dogmatic, authoritarian, or rigid. I realized that the best I can do in life is create space for women to be exactly who they are, because I know how much it meant for me,” —Dr. Lindsey Elmore, 35, author, wellness expert, and pharmacotherapy specialist

 

c/o Sarah Lee

You have to stick around to see it through

“When you start a company, you only think about the possibilities and hopeful things. You say to yourself, ‘I have a product that I believe in and that I think other people will enjoy.’ What you don’t really consider is that there may be bad times and you have to plan for those as well. You can’t walk away, and you have to stick around to see it through. This is something that has carried into my personal life as well. You only have one life to live so make it count,” —Sarah Lee, 39, Co-Founder and COO of Bombfell

 

finding success in your 30s
c/o Candace Crane

Stay true

“‘Let’s love ourselves and we can’t fail to make a better situation. Tomorrow, our seeds will grow.  All we need is dedication,’ is said beautifully by Ms. Lauryn Hill in her song Everything is Everything. I always look for inspiration and opportunities to grow — both to better myself and the Petal brand. Through these gorgeous song lyrics, I have learned to be intuitive, listen attentively, and enjoy every moment of the journey. Staying dedicated to your mission and true to yourself will guide you to a fulfilling future,” —Candice Crane, 34, CEO and founder of Petal

 

Jodi Lavian

Keep your priorities straight

“I got married just before I turned 30, and we started having kids right away. I always made time to have that perfect work/life balance, which meant making time for the kids, my husband, and time for myself, all while developing and growing a business. Having a great support system and utilizing the best resources is what really kept me going. Meditation, various breathing exercises, and yoga has really helped me to get through some of the more difficult situations. Now fifteen years and four kids later, things are just as hectic, but it’s exciting to see what every day brings,” —Jodi Lavian, 44, co-founder of Dermelect

 

c/o Cayla Craft

What you don’t say will not get heard

“You can’t assume people know what you need or what you want them to do. In your relationships, tell your partner what you need and what you expect them to do for you. In your business, tell people what you have going on and ask for the exact type of support you need. Once I got this piece of advice, I learned to ask directly for what I wanted and people happily helped me,” —Cayla Craft, 31, CEO of Mommy Millionaire

 

finding success in your 30s
Emily Tevald

Find happiness within

“I met my husband when I was 20, and we started our family on the young side as well. I transitioned from being a person in the working world to being a stay-at-home parent when I was 27 — and that was a hard transition. I found myself looking outwards for validation, feeling unsure of my footing or my contribution. Full-time parenting is wonderful, challenging, and satisfying, but I felt a little lost. Heading into my 30s, transitioning into being a yoga teacher, and then opening a studio with my business partner and dear friend, I have learned to find happiness from within. I have always said that through yoga, I found myself. Once I found that inner confidence, I was less concerned with validation from others. Learning to look for happiness from the inside rather than searching for it from the outside hasn’t been easy, and I’m not always great at it. But it has eased my insecurity, given me confidence in myself and ultimately that is happiness,”—Emily Tevald, 39, Co-Founder of Boston Yoga Union

 

c/o Gladys King

Don’t let self-doubt and fear be an obstacle

“Even if you haven’t found what you love yet, learn what you don’t like, which is just as important as trying new things. When you encounter something new, don’t be afraid of it. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to learn and to broaden your horizons. No one knows everything, what’s going to make you more successful is your willingness to learn and to better yourself throughout your career. And when you see other young women struggle along their paths, be a gracious and willing teacher to encourage and support them,” —Gladys Kong, 48, CEO at UberMedia

 

c/o Stacey Feeley

Make every day a good day

This is some of the best advice I ever received from my father, who told me this same thing every day growing up. However, it wasn’t until my 30s that it truly sunk in. No matter the stress of a horrible day or the excitement of an amazing day, there is a switch that only you can flip to find the good. And on days when I have actively looked for the worst and it seems impossible to find anything else, without fail the good is always there. No matter what we do, we are part of an ecosystem that builds on the actions we create,” —Stacey Feeley, 40, CEO and co-founder of Gosili

 

c/o Jennifer Eden

Fail fast

“Go all-in on your idea, and then be ready to jump ship or pivot when and if things aren’t working. Before starting Tampon Tribe, we had already run successful businesses overseas and had several ideas that we wanted to put into action — one was a tech play in music; one a pet- and plant-sitting app with a difference — we went all in, tested, iterated, and then realized they didn’t have the impact and longevity that we had first anticipated. So, we pulled resources and let them tick over in the background. When we started testing Tampon Tribe, we saw instant acceptance and traction, and we knew we were onto something wonderful. We segued products and curations, and we continue to respond quickly to market trends. It’s super fun, but be ready to get over yourself and into the fast-paced environment of start-up and business life,” —Jennifer Eden, 44, co-founder of Tampon Tribe

 

c/o Danielle Michaels

Be open to hearing advice

“In my 20s, I had the notion that I knew it all. I had a plan and knew what I wanted and how to get it. Fast forward to my 30s, and I realized how much I didn’t know and how much I could learn and grow if I opened myself up to hearing what other people had to say – learning from their success and failures. Being open, humble, and grateful — combined with being bold, brave, thinking creatively, and being prepared to back yourself and take informed risks — that’s a winning combination as an entrepreneur,” —Dannielle Michaels, 45, co-founder and CEO of BBoxBaby

 

c/o Jennifer McAllister-Nevins

Chapter two doesn’t have to look like chapter one

“When I was in my 30s, I’d had two kids, and I knew that I was ready to leave the job I was in. But I had no idea what came next. As an attorney, I was naturally risk-averse, and I’d always followed on the straight path — college, grad school, law school, clerkship, public interest legal jobs. At a conference where we had to go around saying where we’d be in five years, I thought, with trepidation, that I really had no idea. The facilitator said to me, ‘Chapter 2 doesn’t have to look anything like Chapter 1,’ and it’s turned out to be more apt than she knew. I left my job, and after staying home for a few years to raise three kids, I took a risk and started Savor with a friend. I didn’t have a burning desire to make something. I didn’t have a burning desire to be an entrepreneur, as I hadn’t done something in the business world since I was a babysitter. But we had an idea, and I just kept saying ‘yes.’ Suddenly, I was running a company. It’s been great and hard and always, always, a page turner,” —Jennifer McAllister-Nevins, 48, co-Founder and CEO of Savor

 

c/o Amy Lacey

Wait to react

“I feel like this is one of those life lessons that everyone gets slapped with eventually. How often is it that we say or do something in a moment of stress or anxiety and then totally regret it a few minutes/hours/days later. If you can just take a step back, breathe, calm down… think before you speak. Wouldn’t we all be better off? I strive to have a calm spirit so that I can lead my family and my business well,” —Amy Lacey, 49, owner, founder and CEO of Cali’flour Foods

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