Women Business Owners: Their highs, lows, and everything in between

October is National Women’s Small Business Month, dedicated to celebrating the contributions and successes of our nation’s women small business owners. At TMC, we have the pleasure of working with so many inspiring women business owners as we work with them to purchase real estate for their business. Their courage, determination, and passion inspire us every day!

In honor of National Women’s Small Business Month, we wanted to pick their brains on being a small business owner. Here is what they had to say.

What do you love about being a business owner?   

I love that I have the ability to provide for our family and the families of our employees.  Although sometimes stressful and a huge responsibility, it is an amazing feeling that I have the ability to employ, empower and encourage others to grow and follow their career goals and dreams. 

Christine Sheffield, Owner, Platinum Container 

What motivates you – and keeps you going in the difficult times?

This may sound cliché but what motivates me is the ability to make a positive impact in the community. I have always had a clear vision of my future and what I wish to accomplish, and this is what motivates me every day. Additionally, being able to problem-solve and come up with a defined solution for our client’s legal needs is truly a motivation for me. 

Long-term goals and what I truly wish to achieve in my personal life is what motivates me to keep going during difficult times. We all face challenges in our lives, and understanding what your ultimate goal and what you wish to accomplish in your own life will certainly push you to keep going. Also, we all have to be mindful that everyone is going through something difficult in their lives; but we are all alike in many ways. Showing kindness and doing what you can for others in need helps me get through difficult times. There’s nothing that we can’t overcome if we can all do this for each other. 

Tin Hwang, Owner, Hwang Law Group 

What are the daily challenges you face as a female entrepreneur? 

Keeping up with big business around us is our biggest challenge. In order to survive all odds, one must be as ahead as possible of the competition. Persistence, hard work, financial strength and faith are vital to succeed. 

Meenu Sandhu, Owner Newbur, Inc

What have you learnt from your greatest flops?  

I have had a bunch of flops.  What I learned is that just about nothing is permanent and the flops don’t define me.  Just don’t make the same flops over and over and over again.  Pick yourself up and surround yourself with those who love you.

In the most difficult of times, I changed how I view them.  I see them as lessons and questioned what lessons I was meant to learn from those times.  I never got to finish college, so my life is my text book and there’s always a surprise midterm.

Linda Fong, Owner, FASTSIGNS Oakland 

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? 

Generation of women behind my generation will face the same enormous challenge as the generation of women before mine.  How do we have harmony among work, family and self? 

The promise of that balance in life is so tantalizing that we forever strive to achieve.  

Within pockets of our lives, we may experience that gratifying life. Change will happen (think the pandemic we’re all living through), and we will strengthen our resolve toward achieving that blissful balance in life.

Francette Huynh, Owner, Laser Alliance 

What woman inspires you and why? 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is certainly an inspiration as she has continuously fought for women’s rights particularly when it came to discrimination against women where she assisted the court in striking down a state law that favored men over women as estate administrators. Her passion to fight for the rights of the LBGT community, undocumented and disabled individuals is truly inspirational. RBG left an astonishing legacy when she passed away at age 87, and her progressive outlook and stance has shaped our modern American life for the better. 

My mother is also my role model – she had close to nothing when she first immigrated from Taiwan to the U.S. Through hard work and compassion, she was able to achieve her long-term goals in working for the company she had always dreamed of.  

Tin Hwang, Owner, Hwang Law Group 

What are some traits you think great leaders possess?   

There are so many qualities I think the great leaders possess, however some of my personal favorites are patience, courage, emotional intelligence and the ability to pivot and shift gracefully when things get tough (and they will). 

Christine Sheffield, Owner, Platinum Container 

How has your industry changed for women since you started your career?

There are many more woman in the industry, but not nearly as many as there should be, particularly in executive roles. While improvement is encouraging, I’m eager for more equality.

It is vital for women leaders to be mentors to new generations of women entering their industries. Support them, share your knowledge, and inspire greatness. Through support and collaboration, we can make the biggest impact.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs? 

Learning to say no is the best way to reach your goals…wins…success.  Time is precious, and yes a lot of opportunities and potentials excite me and this is why I do what I do.  However, I value the time I need for myself, for my family, for my friends, for my clients, for my community.  If I overextend myself then what I have to offer is only a small percentage of my true potential.  I am cheating myself and what I value most by not giving my full attention to the individual in front of me. 

 I recently came across this quote and love it: “Decide what kind of life you actually want.  Then say no to everything that isn’t that.” – Melanie Mackie

Louise Fiona Cochrane, CPALF Cochrane and Associates 

What has helped you become an effective leader?  

Learning to be a good leader is a long process, but I have found that a good part of it learning when to say yes and when to say no. You’re essentially an editor. 

Women are held to a higher level of scrutiny than men.  However, all of the struggles we have to overcome as women prepare us for the challenges we constantly face (including a pandemic!) and have allowed us to be more adaptable, creative, and resourceful. It also makes our successes that much more rewarding. 

Maria Davis, Owner, Saint Mary’s Pub