Today I am super excited to bring an interview to you that I think will be an amazing resource for you! Shivani Gopal is the Founder and CEO of The Remarkable Woman; an organisation founded to accelerate the path towards equality, for women and for the world. Since founding the social enterprise Shivani has gone on to win the Top 50 Small Business Leaders award and is recognized as a leading feminist and business thought leader, helping women navigate through their careers, businesses and financial success.
CEO, The Remarkable Woman
For those readers who aren’t familiar with your work, could you give us a brief introduction?
The work we do at The Remarkable Woman is all about accelerating the path towards equality, for women and the world – personally, professionally and financially.
We know that there’s a glass ceiling, and while we can’t smash it immediately – we can do something about it. Which is why we partner women with mentors and sponsors, help them get access to leadership programs, and gender pay gap discounts.
Our entire reason for existing is to see more women business owners and leaders. Because the world cannot advance, until women do.
What inspired you to write blogs on the topic of women entrepreneurs?
Women make up one third of business owners in Australia. We don’t have a strong venture capital culture here as there is in other developed nations like the US — so we have even less women entrepreneurs who actually get funding. The result means it’s harder for women to launch successful businesses.
So, I wanted to create a network for women to feel supported to pursue their dreams of starting a business. After all, we are immensely talented, so why shouldn’t we be the current and future business leaders of the nation?
The reality is in order to make that happen we need to acknowledge that running a business is tough business. There are so many competing priorities like getting your branding right, marketing the business, managing the operations, getting more sales, and then of course there’s the burden of keeping up with admin. Accounting software provider, Reckon’s ‘In the Zone’ research has shown us that the burden of admin and red tape is so heavy that it’s killing the business dream for almost half of all business owners.
With this in mind, and the knowledge that rules and regulations keep changing, like the recent expansion of Single Touch Payroll legislation from July 1, small business owners need some ongoing guidance, not just on marketing and business ideas, but also on the important practical considerations on things like payroll.
After all, even elite athletes need coaching and mentoring to get that one step ahead. We’re mere mortals. We too need support, it’s a human thing. We need to embrace it and get ahead because of it.
How are women more resilient as entrepreneurs? Why do you think that is?
We’ve always known women to be resilient, emotionally intelligent and strong individuals. What I love is that there’s research to prove that in business, women are indeed more resilient than men. Recent research from Reckon has shown that women, when it comes to business admin (the stuff we don’t like doing), are more likely to roll up their sleeves and get the job done themselves – in fact they spend $5,000 less than men on admin expenses, like outsourcing. It shows us that even with the boring stuff such as admin, women can push through with their resilience and make it happen.
It reminds me of a line that Elon Musk said not too long ago: ‘starting a business is like eating glass while staring into the abyss’. Why? Because starting a business is hard, and you need to be prepared to do all the not so fun stuff, so that you can have the ability to create a business you love. It takes a lot of painstaking work (hence the glass) and you need to stomach a lot of uncertainly (hence the abyss). Women aren’t afraid of hard work, and as a result, we’re built for thriving in business.
In your opinion, what can women entrepreneurs be doing differently to avoid the negative wellbeing issue?
Put themselves first. While it’s great that women can roll up their sleeves and get the job done, any job for that matter, that doesn’t mean we always should. We need to embrace delegation, because delegation is the secret to being able to have it all. You just need someone else to carry some of the load.
Some of the issues highlighted by Reckon’s ‘In The Zone’ research show us that entrepreneurs are getting around 4.5 hours of sleep each night, they aren’t putting aside time for themselves, and as a result everything suffers – from wellbeing, to mindset, love life, and the business itself. You simply can’t be in the zone if you’re tired.
Wellbeing needs to be a priority – because you can’t run a business at full speed if your mind isn’t keeping up pace. So, you need to have a mindset shift.
I advise women to set time aside at least a few hours each week for ‘soul food’ – doing activities that nourish wellbeing. Whether that be sleeping, reading, baking (a personal favourite!), or spending time with loved ones. They’ll come back rejuvenated, back in the zone, more creative and better able to take their business to new heights.
To do this, we need to embrace new technology and automation that simplifies both life and business, such as Single Touch Payroll applications. The more efficiencies we create in our admin, the more free time we’ll end up having to really treat ourselves and wind down.
The overall lesson here is, yes women are resilient. But let’s save that resilience for the big battles. We don’t have anything to prove, we’re remarkable as it is.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for women who are interested in starting their own business?
Do something you’re passionate about. Write down your ideas, the what, how and why, and start adding meat to the bones. You’ll have a strategy before you know it. And if you’re someone who has a mind bubbling away with ideas, keep writing them down. After a few weeks, go back and look at them, you’ll likely see a theme in there – or you’ll find that you’ve been writing the same idea down, over and over again, just in a different way. That’s how you know with clarity what to run with.
From there, just get started. Don’t think, just do. Don’t question yourself, don’t even give time the chance to let self-doubt kick in, just start the work. Do the research, find your market, set up your ABN and keep moving. You’ll have something up and running, or you’ll pivot to a better idea before you know it. The actions always get you there. The thinking doesn’t. That takes you to self-doubt. My mantra for this is ‘action cures fear’. Whenever I’m in doubt, I just keep moving.
A big thank you to Shivani for taking the time for the interview! If you want to know more about Shivani and her work, check out her website at The Remarkable Woman.