Posted By Pablo Conde on June 26, 2014 in Interviews
Pablo Conde

Expert Interview with Stephanie Burns on Female Entrepreneurs for Insurance 321

Female entrepreneurs

Like many businesses, the idea for Chic CEO was born out of conversations with friends. 

But unlike most businesses, it took a colorful wheel and one of the world’s most famous women to ever don an evening gown to make it a reality.

Stephanie Burns, founder of one of the web’s most popular sites for female entrepreneurs, says that back in 2008, while she was working on her MBA, many of her girlfriends were being laid off from their jobs. They started turning to her for advice on small side projects and businesses they were starting to make ends meet. 

“I had no idea what to tell them,” she says. “I was getting my MBA, sure, but I was learning high-level concepts like global marketing, strategic management, etc. So I started looking around for a resource for them and couldn’t find anything I liked.”

For her final thesis, she created a business plan for a site that would offer women insight on entrepreneurship. Then she lost her own job a year later and decided to put her plan into action.

That’s when Pat and Vanna stepped in.

“I was a contestant on the Wheel of Fortune and won $12,000!” she says. “When that happened, I knew I had the money to get Chic CEO started.”

The site launched in December of 2010, and by June of 2011, it was named one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurial Websites for Women by Forbes and has been on the list every year since.

Here, Stephanie shares more about her site, offers insights on the challenges of launching a business and tells us why women are especially suited for entrepreneurship. Read on:

What’s the significance of your name, Chic CEO? Why is chicness a positive attribute for business owners?

Great question. I named it Chic CEO because I started the company to serve a group of my girlfriends who were all starting small businesses. They were all so beautiful in their own way, so smart, so driven, so cool, so funny and so motivated. I wanted to build something that was like them. They were all destined to be badass businesswomen, but embodied a feminism that made them…them. 

So I wanted to convey that just because we’re powerful women, doesn’t mean we can’t still be women; we can still feel feminine and chic, while totally killing it in business. 

Who should be reading it, and what will we find on it?

Any female entrepreneur who is looking for a resource to help her either start her business or grow the one she has. There is a ton of free how-to information on the site, the blog is a great resource and we have a membership program called the Chic Elite Program that takes a deep dive into a specific topic every month. It’s an amazing program with a ton of value for our members. I’m really proud of it. 

Why is it so important to you to offer business advice to women specifically? Why do you think they need a special business resource?

Women are starting businesses almost 2:1 to men right now. The market is growing so fast, and I wanted to build something for this growing market. 

What sets your female-centric business site apart from more mainstream or male-centric sites?

I don’t think there are any male-centric sites that I’m trying to set myself apart from – it was a strategic business decision to focus on women. It just so happens that I love doing it, but the market is growing twice as fast, so I made it specific to that market so that I could better serve them. 

In addition, one of our major revenue streams is advertising. Women make up to 85 percent of all consumer spending, and female entrepreneurs are an attractive audience. 

So I am helping to serve a fast-growing market, and providing value to my advertisers. 

What are the biggest complaints or concerns your readers have about launching a business? What advice do you offer?

Not knowing where to start! I always say start with a business plan (we offer a free template on the website) so that they can work out a few obstacles in the beginning. 

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing female entrepreneurs?

Risk aversion can stop women in their tracks. Naturally, we tend to be a bit more risk averse – needing to know the answers to every question before we start. That’s a sure way to never get started. You have to just take the plunge and trust your gut. Entrepreneurship is an exercise in intuition – which we naturally have! So sharpening our intuition is really important in running a business. Just get started and trust your gut. 

What qualities do you think make women especially suited for entrepreneurship?

We’re tough. So tough. We’ll fight until the end, and even then we’ll fight some more. I love that about women. We’re also conservative and cautious, which helps us really think big decisions through.

Why is important that every new and wannabe business owner surround themselves with like-minded people? Where can you find this community?

It’s really important to surround yourself with like-minded people; they push you and challenge you, give you new ideas and provide support. Women can definitely find that at Chic CEO and specifically in the Chic Elite Program. 

Which current female entrepreneurs do you look up to? Why do they inspire you?

Barbara Corcoran and Sara Blakely. Tenacious is the word I would describe them as, and tenacity is one of the biggest attributes to success that I’ve noticed in successful entrepreneurs. I love that about both of them. 

Follow Stephanie and the Chic CEO team on Facebook and Twitter.