These successful women have advice for starting your business

Nina Vaca and Nermin Sa’d seated on stage (Ben Solomon/State Dept.)
Nina Vaca (left) and Nermin Sa’d on stage at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (Ben Solomon/State Dept.)

A group of successful and influential women recently shared their experiences and gave insightful advice to women around the world who are starting their own businesses.

Join entrepreneurial networks

Jordanian engineer Nermin Sa’d wanted to start a company, but couldn’t find support in her community. She joined GIST — the U.S. Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology initiative — which gave her the support she needed to start her online engineering firm, Handasiyat.net. Programs like GIST offer training, resources and, sometimes, microfunding. Even a small amount of money “means a lot when you are starting up,” Sa’d said.

Find a great sponsor

Ruth Porat sitting in chair on stage, smiling (Ben Solomon/State Dept.)
Senior Vice President of Alphabet Inc. Ruth Porat (Ben Solomon/State Dept.)

For Ruth Porat, the chief financial officer and senior vice president of Google and Alphabet Inc., having a great sponsor was key to overcoming challenges. Find someone who has seniority, is willing to vouch for you, and can recommend good business options. Once you find that person, “be persistent and go for it,” Porat said.

Repeat your pitch

Porat noted that women entrepreneurs often have well-articulated arguments, but don’t echo those arguments as much as male entrepreneurs do. Often repetition “is interpreted as commitment, passion and drive,” she said, so it’s important to repeat to potential investors and customers why you believe your business can succeed.

Tell your story

As an ambassador for global entrepreneurship, Chairman and Chief Executive of Pinnacle Group Nina Vaca travels the world telling her personal story of starting a business. When aspiring entrepreneurs see someone from a similar background, she believes, it helps them connect and inspires them. “Use your life, experiences and success to help others,” she advises.

Help others

One of the most important things women can do to ensure the diversity of future generations of entrepreneurs is support other women and programs that provide women with access to capital. Vaca herself became an angel investor to one of the first Latina-owned asset-management businesses in the U.S., Altura Capital. Altura’s president and CEO Monika Mantilla has now allocated $100 million to support women- and minority-owned firms in the U.S.