Bee Nguyen is the Founder and Executive Director of Athena’s Warehouse, Inc. We asked her for a little Expert Advice:
What advice would you give to someone who feels overwhelmed by the competition? Focus on your strengths and the quality of the service or product that you are offering your audience. Too often we get caught up in quantity versus quality and we tend to lose sight of the things that make our particular venture unique or worthy.
What top three tips would you like to pass along for those who have just started to use social media? Research best practices, don’t be afraid to experiment, and reflect your branding and personality.
When you think of the best people to work with, what traits do they share? I love driven people who are unafraid to give direction. I respect individuals who are less focused on pleasing others because this lends itself to more honest, straightforward, and constructive dialogue and practices.
Give a budding entrepreneur your best hiring and firing business practices: Find out what drives the individual and ensure the person aligns with your core values. Before firing a person, be sure that you have been an effective leader and manager. If not, work with the person to create a viable work plan. If you have found the person to be ineffective, don’t be afraid to cut your losses.
Entrepreneurs often say that “you can’t do it all.” What three things do you always outsource? It’s imperative to understand areas of expertise; I identify these areas and use experts and volunteers to fill in the gaps.
What piece of invaluable advice did you receive that you would like to pass on to women pursuing their dream? When I was 13, I received the most valuable advice from my teacher, who reminded me to be my own person and truly own what that means. I still think about that to this day. Many of my decisions have been influenced by my family and how they might respond. Although I care about their opinion, I really had to learn to trust my own decisions.
My best advice to a woman launching a venture is… Trust your vision, but also ensure you have a reliable network of both mentors and peers who can guide you. Sometimes I get too attached to ideas and I need people to challenge me to be realistic and thoughtful. I’m still learning how to set my ego aside.
What would your advice to your younger self be? Practice confidence and humility and learning the appropriate times to exercise these things.
Finally, please share your top five tips that would benefit an entrepreneurial woman launching or growing her business:
- A nonprofits is still a business, so treat it as a business and include practices to ensure sustainability.
- Make sure you have a strategic plan in place and revisit your plan to make sure it’s relevant to your mission.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for resources. I am constantly asking for money, woman power, and other resources. Even when people say no, I thank them and let them know I may ask again in the future.
- Make sure you have a great board of directors that can help develop sustainability practices for your organization. Having strong team members is key to every successful venture.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no”, even if the suggestions or offers to help are well-intentioned. You understand your organization the best and with the support of your team, you can best identify needs and priorities.