Emma Isaacs, Founder & Global CEO of Business Chicks and mum of 5 joined us recently to share her passion for business and the release of her first book, Winging It. Winging It is a great read for the budding entrepreneur to top level executives……and we can also tell you that another great book is on the way!
What motivated you to write Winging It?
I guess I just felt I’d run out of excuses not to write a book! I love writing and have collected a bunch of wisdom over my twenty-plus years of working for myself and I genuinely wanted to share the inside story of what that’s like – warts and all.
When you took over Business Chicks it was still in start-up phase, what were the challenges you encountered?
Well it wasn’t so much that it was in start-up phase, but it wasn’t even a business when I bought it. It was run by a children’s charity prior to me buying it and it had no business model to speak of. I bought it, founded it into a company and set about commercialising the concept. In the first few years of starting up, the challenges were the same as any business faces: growth, building a brand, working out what we stood for and what we wouldn’t and making sure we were earning more than we spent. I loved the start-up days – it’s all hustle and problem solving but I had the energy and time back then to completely immerse myself
When did you realise that the business was successful, what did success look like for you?
I’m reminded the business is successful whenever I’m able to attend one of our events (whether that be a lunch, one of our Study Tours overseas, our Leadership Gathering, our annual conference or maybe our one-day business summit, 9 to Thrive). To see our members together and living our values of supporting one another and having fun makes me incredibly proud. Success to me is all about the impact we’re able to make for our members and how we’re able to enrich their lives.
Part of the success of a business is a great team, how do you keep yours engaged?
The whole team is very, very connected to why we do what we do at Business Chicks – it’s about being of service to women, and inspiring each other to achieve all we want to achieve. It’s a powerful mission and one that won’t ever really, truly, fully be reached, so we’re spurred on every day to keep trying.
Why do you think there has been such a movement of women in business in recent years?
I think women are looking for options that allow the flexibility they’re not getting from the companies they’ve previously worked for. There are some exceptional companies that allow this, but there are still a bunch of traditional workplaces that still expect women and men to work like they did before they had kids and I think women are sick of feeling like that have to make a choice.
Personally, I’m incredibly passionate about seeing more women own and run their own businesses. And I want to see them run big businesses! The data shows that female-led startups receive less funding, and female entrepreneurs pay themselves a smaller salary. I think as a society we need to put more value into the work women do, whether that’s caring for a family or running a business. Ultimately, I think the more women we can have in these positions, the more jobs we can create, and the greater capacity we’ll have to see more women achieving all they want.
You have spoken of the challenges of starting Business Chicks in the US and the financial loss in the early days, how did you deal with this on a personal level?
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for more than three years now and while the business journey has been exceptionally challenging, being in the US has taught me so much and I’ve been exposed to so many new experiences. Like anything in my life, when things we’re going as we expected, I stayed active - I had another baby, wrote Winging It and we’ve since gone on to develop some extraordinary experiences in the USA for our members. The business that I have here now is very different to the one I planned, but that’s the thing about living as large as I try to do – you never know where you’ll end up.
If you could only give one piece of advice to someone seeking to start their own business, what would it be?
What’s that quote about not needing to see the whole staircase? If you’ve got a dream or a goal, just take one small step at a time. This saying is also true: “If you believe you can, or can’t, you’re right.” It’s also about getting your mindset right first. On top of that, I’ve always believed you can never learn too much and should take every opportunity to educate yourself and surround yourself with other likeminded people who are also curious and committed to their development.
Where to from here?
What I love about Business Chicks is that we’re constantly innovating and coming up with new ways to engage our members. We’re developing more and more experiences in the USA (in the past six months we’ve taken two groups on Knowledge + Study Tours through Los Angeles and we’ll take another group to New York in a few months’ time), we’re going back to Richard Branson’s Necker Island in October with 25 members, there are national tours with Julie Bishop, Mark Manson and a bunch of other yet-to-be-announced speakers. We’re taking 150 members to Broome for our annual conference Movers & Breakers AND we’ll be bringing the 9 to Thrive summit to Melbourne also.
Personally, I’m knee deep in writing my next book and am excited to release it in the first half of 2020!