Shelley Klingerman | Managing Entrepreneur for NEXT Studios and CEO & Founder of Stiletto Agency
Building a company with partners is a whole different experience than building a company by yourself. Ask me how I know. Both are rewarding and challenging, but they are different journeys. When you build a company yourself, you are 100% in control of the decisions that, for the most part, only affect you. It’s your success or your failure and you know that. It could be a great payoff for you, but you could also lose it all if it doesn’t work. And when it’s just you, you can control the level of risk you’re willing and comfortable in taking. Most likely that level of risk will come with a lot of questions; such as, “Do you have another source of income to get you by? Do you have a spouse that can support you while you test the waters? Are you going to jump in with both feet and burn the boat?” It doesn’t matter what you do, because you only have to “worry” about yourself. You can’t be silent because you’re talking to yourself and making independent decisions that you will immediately know about.
In a partnership it’s different. You are bringing various experiences and perspective to the table to build a company. No single partner’s thoughts, opinions or experience trumps another, UNLESS YOU LET IT. If you don’t speak up, it’s on you. Most partnerships come together because everyone is bringing an important perspective to the table and you are stronger together than you are independently. Always keep that in mind, you are there for a reason. There might be times when you feel your perspective doesn’t align with the majority so, “I must be wrong” or you trust the others. That’s common, however, your purpose for being at the table is to disrupt the group think and provide a DIFFERENT perspective. One that might be completely opposite of what’s being discussed, but it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s considered. It might not be the way things go, but at least it was considered. I’m here to tell you, it can be intimidating and misinterpreted (by you) that, “I don’t see it that way, so I must be wrong”. Yet, it is so important that you don’t silence yourself. You need to be heard for the benefit of the company that you’re equally responsible for building and its success. If you are a female, this whole experience has the potential to be exacerbated.
As someone who is passionate about this challenge, I spend a lot of time empowering women on how to seize control of their safety through my work in Stiletto Agency, as well as empowering visionaries (entrepreneurs) to seize control of their future through my work as a Managing Entrepreneur with NEXT Studios. And to be completely honest, I spend a lot of time managing this for myself. Ladies, if we’re going to come to the table, we have to check any insecurities, passiveness, and 100% trust at the door. Acknowledge feelings when they surface and know they were given to you as tools to guide you through life in both personal and professional situations. There is NO feeling that should be dismissed. Every feeling/emotion has a very important role. Some are meant to pause you; others are meant to make you act. They are YOUR feelings. You own them. No one can tell you they’re wrong.
You may allow others to provide you information that you can take into account to work through your feelings, but they can’t change them, only you can. My point is, when something doesn’t FEEL right to you, it’s real. It might not be the way someone else feels, but that doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t valid. When you’re building a company or making your way through a corporate environment, don’t not address something that doesn’t feel right to you. Unchecked, these feelings will manifest into things like resentment or panic, which become a much larger distraction and can unnecessarily derail your success.
Women get concerned about being labeled, so we don’t speak up. We need to. For our own good and for the good of our business. Do not silence yourself. I often go back to this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”