Being "naggy" isn't a bad thing - it's a sign of vision
3 tips from international female entrepreneurs
In case you missed it, today is International Women’s Day. At SumUp, we’re proud to count thousands of amazing female entrepreneurs among our 4 million customers. So today, we’re shining a light on a few of their inspiring stories and experiences of being a business owner.
We strongly believe there should be more women in business. For one thing, it’s an essential step towards a more equitable future. For another, women bring a valuable approach to entrepreneurship.
So how do more women start and grow their businesses? We sat down with business owners across two continents to discuss the challenges and thrills of running a business. Are you also a woman running your own business or wanting to do so? Then keep reading to hear their top tips on how to make your business thrive.
Follow your passion
When we spoke with Carola, who runs a motorcycle shop in Berlin called Café Racer 69, and Luciana, who runs the coffee shop Somos Cafés Especiais in Brazil, we discovered that their businesses stemmed from what they loved. Both women harboured a lifelong love of what they’re selling, and couldn’t be happier to have turned that love into a business.
Starting a business was something Luciana had been thinking about for a while before she took the plunge, telling us she’d had this dream “for as long as I can remember”. We also spoke with Patthy, who runs a custom gift business in Brazil called Lacrei Gifts. She’s been an entrepreneur for years now, having run a successful salon before starting her own business.
Patthy, owner of the gift shop Lacrei Gifts in Jacareí, Brazil
If it’s not passion, it’s lifestyle. Maybet, owner of Gelato Amore in Santiago, Chile, had several successful experiences in small local businesses, particularly in one that sold party dresses, where she realised that she had all the skills required to thrive as an entrepreneur.
Maybet, who owns Gelato Amore in Santiago, Chile
Switching from the pressures of office life to the freedom of business ownership has been instrumental to her satisfaction. Patthy says that becoming her own boss made it easier for her to manage her time.
“When you run your own business, you can do things your own way. And you also have the freedom to manage your schedules.”
When it comes to your passion, there’s no right time to start. You don’t have to wait until your children grow up or until you have a certain budget. As Patthy and Maybet say, “if you think “'I want to do it', then do it”.
Luciana, founder of the coffee shop Somos Cafés Especiais in São Paulo, Brazil
At the same time, spending the time to work on yourself is important. Luciana and Patthy both studied for some time before setting up their businesses.
“Work on yourself in every way. I, for example, have been nourishing my dream for almost 20 years. While I didn't have the money to open a business, I went to study, work, I went to find out how to do it, I went after deepening my knowledge... I wasn't always where I wanted to be, the pandemic brought very intense challenges, but today I'm living a dream. Everything in life is a process and sometimes it's not comfortable.”
Create your community
No one runs a business alone, and these women know that. Every business owner we talked to works together with a partner to make their business the best it can be. Luciana sees her coffee shop as a family business, Maybet works with her husband, Carola runs her shop together with her partner and niece, and Patthy works with her daughter.
Carola, the owner of the motorcycle shop Cafe Racer 69 in Berlin, Germany
Working together and balancing different perspectives is often key to making their business succeed. After all, as Patthy mentioned, women have unique approaches to entrepreneurship. One reason her approach is different is that as a woman, she’s used to multitasking, which makes balancing the myriad of tasks all business owners have as natural as walking.
“Women are always multitasking, doing a lot of things at the same time. So in my business, I can do my own cash book, I can do the shopping, I can produce the items. And I can do it all almost at the same time. I think women have that advantage. And besides, I can still take care of my family.”
Community extends beyond the management level. Several of the business owners we talked to said what makes them happy is seeing how at home their customers feel. They’ve created a place for people to talk as well as shop, and in some cases, everyone’s on a first-name basis.
Luciana told us how she hangs pictures of customers on the wall of her coffee shop. Her favourite thing about entrepreneurship is “the soul that this café has”. And Maybet is proud of the warm atmosphere in her ice cream shop.
Embrace your “female” powers
There’s no getting around the fact that women in general, but particularly female entrepreneurs, still have gender stereotypes and biases to deal with. A strong female business leader will often be perceived as bossy, stubborn, or pushy in a way that men just aren’t – an experience that many women seem to share.
As Renata, owner of Quintal Urbano Pizzeria in Brazil, explains, “If you fight for something, you’re hysterical” – but her husband, she says, is allowed to yell and complain without alienating anyone. “Naggy'' is an adjective that comes up a lot. These women are making their dreams reality, and sometimes that means pushing hard. But in Patthy’s opinion, being “naggy” isn’t a bad thing – it’s a sign of vision.
“I am all these adjectives. I'm really stubborn – so much so that I dropped one business and started another and then another, but I never gave up on being an entrepreneur. "Naggy", I hear a lot. But not from the business perspective specifically, it's more from my personality of wanting to make things happen.”
Renata, who runs Quintal Urbano Pizzeria in São Paulo
Women, Patthy says, also work harder for the same result, especially when it comes to finding clients. She mentions one instance where a client went with the male-owned business, despite Lacrei Gifts being the sensible choice.
“I once talked to a guy who owned a swimming pool company, and he wanted to give end-of-year gifts to employees. In the end, he chose to form a partnership with a man with a higher pricing than mine.”
Carola, the founder of a motorbike shop, told us she’s had to deal with condescending customers who ask to speak to ‘the manager’ instead of her. Whether it’s over the phone or in person, there are always people who don’t think a woman could possibly be a business owner.
‘“There are always customers who come in and say "I want to speak to the boss!". That also happens sometimes on the phone. Then I always have to explain that I also know what's going on!”
It’s not only customers; Renata remembers experiencing this discrimination from suppliers and maintenance providers, too. Because she’s a woman, she’s taken less seriously.
When that happens, it’s disheartening. But as convinced as some people are that women can’t run businesses, the women we talked to know that they’re so successful because they’re women. Multitasking, so they say, is a normal part of their daily lives, so doing it at work is second-nature. And Carola has observed that women are usually more organised and quicker to get to the point than men are.
As a woman, Renata noticed she pays more attention to her customers and has an easier time forming relationships with them. So not speaking or acting ‘like a man’ directly supports the sense of community she’s aiming for.
In the face of all these stereotypes, it’s natural when you’re starting out, you’ll feel like you need to do more to prove yourself than a man would. While it’s difficult to entirely get rid of this feeling, Carola’s advice is to “prove through your skills that you can do it just as well as the men”.
SumUp offers support
SumUp is proud to have helped thousands of women start their businesses. We provide a simpler, more affordable, and more flexible option for budding entrepreneurs. One merchant described why she chose SumUp and said “I bought it and it was mine”. Maybet called SumUp "one of the best tools [for running] our ice cream shop".
There’s no red tape, no contract to sign, and no hidden recurring fee. Once you’ve bought a card reader, it’s yours to use how you see fit.
“SumUp is wonderful. The fees are very good, there's a prepayment of receivables and, unlike with the other options, I don't feel exploited. In addition to the easy communication.”
Not having to ‘pay rent’ to use their card reader and not having to deal with exorbitant transaction fees are the two most frequently cited benefits. But there’s also the encouragement and empowerment that we offer.
“SumUp helps me a lot. Not only because of the card reader, it helps me because it encourages me and gives me the opportunity to learn a lot with my work at the company.”
Having an easy way of accepting cashless payments is essential for any business. If you’re thinking about entering the business world or would like to grow your business, you can sign up with SumUp in just a few minutes.
We at SumUp wish all women in our community a happy International Women’s Day and all the best for your future business endeavours.