The Qualities of a Successful Woman Entrepreneur

By Posted by Lauren Salapatek for Stacey Soble | 10/04/2013 9:40:00 AM


For this special Women’s Issue, we invited the leading ladies whom we’ve profiled over the past two years to share their thoughts on the following question: “What qualities or characteristic does a woman in today’s world need to possess in order to be a successful entrepreneur?”

click image to zoom“I believe the fundamental attributes that makes a woman in today’s world a success mirror those of men. We must be strong leaders who welcome taking charge and guiding the direction of our company. We must have the vision and strength to make tough decisions and take calculated risks. We must recognize good talent and surround ourselves with high performing people. We must be direct without being nasty and we must be a role model of dedication to our employees and customers. As women, when we combine these qualities with passion and joyfulness, that’s when we achieve our greatest success.”—Sara Jones, senior vice president and general manager, Joico and Iso Brands, Zotos International “I honestly don't see a difference between the characteristics needed for a man or a woman to succeed as a an entrepreneur. I believe one needs to be open to change, respectful of people and process, have the courage of their convictions, and be willing to take risks and get uncomfortable from time to time. At the end of the day, in order to truly achieve success, one has to be prepared for failure, and in some cases expect it. True entrepreneurs don’t shy away from such things, and are familiar with experiencing fear, so they’ve learned to face it head on and turn them into opportunities, and that’s just one distinction that separates them from others.” –Sandra Bruce, executive director, Milady
“Today’s entrepreneurial women not only need to be strong and have a great sense of self, but having a support group of like-minded women is vital for success.” —Renee Shakour president of Interiors by R.G. Shakour “A successful women in today’s business climate needs to possess confidence, security in who she is, not be afraid of hard work, and of course, she needs the proper amount of balance in her life.” —Tracy Liguori co-president, Scruples Professional Salon Products
“Dare to dream, because only you will ever discover who you are, what you want and what you can do. Don’t be afraid to take risks, to make mistakes, or to be committed and persistent. Always believe that possibilities turn into realities. Celebrate your wins and do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true. Most of all, always believe in you! —Sandra Smith Matrix Artistic Director “It seems to me that many of the innate characteristics and strengths that women embody are now translating into what I refer to as ‘what the world is calling for,’ whether in business, leadership or creating a positively impactful life! Candor, the quality of being open and honest, allows us to be effective facilitators, giving others the space to have a voice. Our natural ability to express vulnerability evokes alignment and support by others. Empathy and sensitivity to others is a huge catalyst for creativity along with our natural tendency to collaborate and connect means winning is plural! The Dali Lama said, “The world will be saved by the Western Woman!” Come on, Ladies, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for!” —Debra Neill Baker principal, Neill-TSP
“The most successful companies are constantly reinventing themselves. As a leader or an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to take risks—to examine your marketplace and try something fresh or put your own twist on it. And, if you should make a mistake and fail, take the opportunity to learn from it— when you can figure out what went wrong, you also discover how to make it better and better!” —Paula Malloy divisional vice president of Salon, JC Penney “For anyone—man or woman—to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to continually develop your leadership skills. Entrepreneurs need their team and others to have a compelling reason to ‘follow’ them and believe in their vision. Here are the top ten skills I continually try to demonstrate to our team: Talk Straight, Demonstrate Respect, Create Transparency, Right All Wrongs, Show Loyalty, Deliver Results, Get Better, Confront Reality, Clarity Expectations, Listen First.” —Beth Bewley co-founder, Eufora International
“Passion for what you do drives everything else. It’s the difference between a job and a labor of love. Any successful entrepreneur, especially in the salon business, must possess an understanding of the technical aspects of the business. For me, continually educating myself about my industry is key. You have to be willing to change and evolve to keep your business growing and thriving.” Ann Ratner co-founder and co-owner, Ratner Companies “A woman needs to be a visionary in her entrepreneurial endeavors, but she also has to be a great communicator of her vision with the willingness to see it through. So often, we secondguess ourselves because others ‘don’t get it.’ Of course, not everyone is going to get it! That’s why you have to have an unshakeable plan and do what others aren’t willing to because they don’t want to risk failing. Enjoy the process. There is no end—it’s all about the journey and the art of reinvention.” —Janine Jarman owner Hairroin Salon, Hollywood, California
“You have to be passionate about serving your team and develop innovative strategies to promote their financial growth. You also have to be fearless to do whatever needs to be done—despite if it’s uncomfortable at times.” —Susan Haise owner, Neroli Salon and Spa and Institute of Beauty and Wellness “A female entrepreneur needs to have a fearlessness tempered by some street smarts. This would enable and empower her to take the right risks at the right time. I also think being charismatic in a way that connects her to a broad network of people is a quality that is important. People want to help nice people. So be nice!” —Karie Bennett CEO and founder, Atelier Salonspa and Atelier A woman needs VOC—Vision, Originality, and Clarity—to Studio in San Jose, California
"The number one quality is the ability to cope, or as I tell my students ‘follow the bouncing ball.’ I find that the students, faculty and administrative staff who are the most flexible and productive with the chaotic pace of business are the ones I trust the most. And trust leads to growth and more opportunity!" —Jill Kohler Penrose Academy, Scottsdale, Arizona “For both men and women, to be successful entrepreneurs in today’s world requires complete understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the industry you are in. If you can spot the greatest ‘pain’ in an industry, you have just identified its greatest need. For women, specifically, to be successful entrepreneurs, never compromise your authenticity. Our uniqueness is our greatest strength. I was on a panel recently to discuss ‘women in business’ and a woman announced that she never ‘shows any emotion at work’ as she felt it would weaken her in the eyes of others. I responded that I can’t imagine not bringing ALL my emotions to work—it is my very personality that fuels my decisions and leads my team—never be afraid to be exactly who you are— within the confines of legality and good manners.” —Jane Wurwand founder and owner, Dermalogica, Inc., and The international Dermal Institute
“To persevere through the stress of the job, changes that happen constantly and sleepless nights, an entrepreneur must truly be passionate about what she’s doing. When passion is identified and a purpose is defined, motivation to work diligently happens much more freely. And, when that passion is identified, it’s easier to help hire and find the right people to live that purpose. At The Charles Penzone Salons, for example, our team not only possesses the educational background to sustain the Company, but also the same passion to create a world-class guest experience.” —Debra Penzone president, The Charles Penzone Salons and the Brittany Group Professional Beauty Products and Education in Powell, Ohio “Passionate purposefulness, commitment to a dream and trust in your strength, is what fuels the drive. Relentless in pursuit, undeterred and persistent!” —Sydney Berry president and owner, Salon Services and Supplies in Renton, Washington
“It seems that today’s women entrepreneurs possess a confidence in knowing the power of being passionate about their dreams and how that power will result in achieving success. They understand the value of networking, the importance of the ability to lead others and mentoring seems to be a natural quality that successful women are practicing along the way.” —Denise Provenzano founder and president of Zano Salons, Naperville, Illinois “One of the most important qualities any entrepreneur needs is vision. This gives female entrepreneurs a distinct advantage because they are naturally endowed with a woman’s intuition. The ability to anticipate “what could happen next” helps us better adapt to impending changes in our industry, in our marketplace and in the world. My business is completely different today than it was when it first started. If I had been unwilling or unable to change, it probably would not have survived. The secret to success is to stay on top of trends and always be prepared. I believe in general, the most successful people are those who are able to execute a ‘Plan B.’” —Patricia Owner owner, FACES DaySpa and FACES Lash Studio, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
“In today’s ever-changing landscape of the professional beauty industry, you need to be open to new ways of approaching the business, but remain grounded in your core beliefs. I like to share the following quote: ‘You can choose to lead with either fear or motivation. Fear will gain you followers that MUST follow. Motivation will gain you followers who CHOOSE to follow.’” —Mia Liguori McHugh co-president, Scruples Professional Salon Products "A woman needs VOC—Vision, Originality, and Clarity—to be a successful entrepreneur. She has to have a product/ idea/service and a strategy to deliver it that sets her apart from the pack. A woman needs to be a leader (not a follower) with a ton of self-confidence and a willingness to take risks. VOC PLUS patience, discipline, stamina, and connections create a package destined for success." —Serena Chreky vice president, Andre Chreky, the Salon Spa in Washington, D.C.
“Successful women have an aura of passion and confidence for making a difference in their Industry and the World. True leaders inspire others to elevate their skills, take risks, try new innovations and evolve their business which equals success!Leaders have clear visions, goals and values and unite their team to see that together success can and will be achieved.” —Lynelle Lynch president and owner, Bellus Academy “You have to love and believe in what you do, know your strengths and weaknesses, take risks but know your limits.” —Cynthia Porcelli founder and managing director, Genacelli Salon & The East Studio in Chicago, Illinois







Stacey Soble Stacey Soble, Editor in Chief of Salon Today

Stacey has been involved in the conversation of salon business for 14 years—as a reporter, a consultant and as the Editor in Chief of SALON TODAY.

Read Stacey Soble's Blogs You can e-mail Stacey at


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