How Female Entrepreneurs Can Shine and Overcome Any Obstacle
Every entrepreneur has goals and dreams they want to fulfill, and while entrepreneurship has many rewards, it also comes with challenges. The journey to realizing your dream can be full of roadblocks and obstacles that can be discouraging and frustrating.
Anna Raaymakers knows all about obstacles. She has built three successful businesses in the last two decades, despite being a single mother with three children, having a big debt and originally lacking the necessary education or experience. Now Anna is on a mission to inspire women, especially older female entrepreneurs, to go for their own mission and overcome any obstacles they might think they have.
Getting Her Dream Education
Anna started her first business in 1992. “I was a single mother of three children between the age of six and twelve and had no money in the bank. I had to quit my job because my youngest son needed me at home. That’s when I decided that I wanted to start a business that I could do from home.” She started helping entrepreneurs build up their business doing their admin work, answering telephones and handling customer relationships. “It generated enough income for me and my children, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
When her children grew up, Anna wanted to make her dream come true and study at university. “Up until then, I had a basic education. I have five siblings, and the two eldest had a higher education. But by the time I wanted to go to university, there was simply no money left.” Anna was interested in psychology, studied hard and got her degree, and opened her own psychotherapy practice. She immediately got clients. “They were mostly coming from the business sector because that had been my previous network. I had a lot of entrepreneurs who for example weren’t good at giving presentations because they were nervous. I helped them get over that fear and just generally helped people overcome obstacles.”
After a while, Anna realized that the work was bearing her down. “I have a lot of respect for people who can deal with other people’s problems everyday, day in and day out. But Istarted taking all these problems home with me and couldn’t sleep because of them. In 2009, I decided that I had to stop.”
Not Giving Up
It only took her a few weeks to understand what she wanted to do next. “When the internet and social media came into the world, I saw a chance there right away and decided to start a social media business. I was good at organizing events and built up a big network on LinkedIn. My friends started asking me how I was able to attract so many clients, and I thought to myself: I could actually teach people that, how to be a client magnet.”
She created her first LinkedIn workshop, but only one person signed up. “I decided to still go through with it and had a great day with that person, who today is still my client. For me, giving up wasn’t an option. I had to do what I was meant to do, and then and there, this was what I was meant to do. I couldn’t disappoint this one person who wanted to learn from me. I just had to do it.”
In 2010, Anna got interested in Facebook. “Entrepreneurs were starting to notice the platform, but back then, it wasn’t easy to create a business page. You had to go through all kinds of software to make it. I thought to myself, if I could teach entrepreneurs how to use Facebook and market their product or service on there, that would be great. But I had no idea how to use it myself.” Anna decided to learn all there was about Facebook and make a business out of it. Her third business was born.
Don’t Hold Back – Shine!
Today, Anna can take Fridays off, has time to spend with her grandchildren and can travel to wherever she wants. “It took me a lot of work, effort and sleepless nights to be able to do that. But it was worth it.”
It has become her mission to inspire female entrepreneurs to overcome any obstacles they think they have and go for their own missions. “My clients now see me as a role model. I had all these obstacles – being a single mother, not having any money, failing in things in my business. I worked very hard and I did it. I didn’t let my mother hold me back from studying later in life. I didn’t let the fact that my husband left me with three children and a big debt hold me back. And if I could do it, so can they. They feel motivated by me, and that makes me feel really proud.”
Anna says that she has met so many women who want to shine but feel held back. “They’re not doing what they were born to do. They see the whole technical aspect and the online stuff as an obstacle. But I didn’t grow up with the internet either. I taught myself how to use a computer, how to use social media. And if I did it, so can they.”
When people ask her how she managed to get over 20’000 likes on Facebook, 30’000 followers on Twitter and 50’000 people on her email list, Anna tells them that she started with one email address, one like and one twitter follower. “No one was born with a business, and I had to work hard to build up this community. But this shouldn’t hold you back. Neither should the techniques or the marketing strategies. You can learn them or you can get somebody’s help, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. But you have to be willing to go for it and shine.”
- Community is the most important asset for your business.
- Don’t let challenges and obstacles hold you back from achieving your dreams.
- Remember: You don’t have to do everything yourself.
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