The 5 Non-Negotiables For Female Founders

Being a Founder comes with its fair number of ups and downs. From imposter syndrome to working all hours of the day - it’s been four years since I founded my design agency, and it’s fair to say I’ve experienced it all.

It’s natural to throw yourself in headfirst when going out on your own. The pull of the freedom to work when you want, where you want, how you want - there’s not much that matches it, but it comes with its challenges.

My shift to being a more resilient, confident Founder took time, and involved lots of trial and error, but these are my key non-negotiables that keep my business and my confidence in myself as a Founder thriving.

Journey Before Destination

Set big, exciting goals for your business, but do not forget it is the everyday small steps that will get you there. The process is always more important than the goal. Big goals can feel far away, and intimidating - whereas setting each little step will always feel more achievable.

As a Female Founder, I have, more times than I’d like to admit, doubted myself and waited to launch something because of the fear of it not being perfect. Most of the time, this is just a hindrance to my own growth and my business’s growth and does little else but feed into limiting self-beliefs that will ultimately hold me back.

This mindset shift from ‘destination’ to ‘journey’ was critical in our growth as a web and graphic design studio, from 10 web design clients and no online presence, to 100+ brand, web and editorial businesses working with us and a community of 40,000 people. I stopped waiting for everything to be perfect, for it to look exactly like the goal I had written out months ago, but I started putting the business and myself out there before I was ready, one step at a time.

Work-Life Integration, Not Balance

The notion of achieving a perfect work-life balance is outdated and unrealistic. Instead, strive for work-life integration, where work and personal life coexist harmoniously. For me, work and travel are intertwined. I combine exploring the world with running my business as an opportunity to fuel creativity, work in new environments that help boost my energy, and meet and travel with other founders and creatives around the world. By embracing flexibility and autonomy, I strongly believe that Female Founders can design lives that align with their passions and priorities without sacrificing success professionally.

Find Support in Community

Surrounding yourself with a supportive community is essential for success as a Female Founder. Whether it is mentorship, collaboration, or camaraderie, lean on your network for guidance and encouragement. At Klioh Studio, we have built a community of like-minded women who uplift and empower each other, fostering a culture of growth and innovation. I wanted to cultivate a unique workplace and company culture to provide opportunities for autonomy and self-expression. All of the women that work for me are also Female Founders themselves, which creates and fosters an environment of entrepreneurship, and equips us to support each other and our clients who are often at the beginning of their Founder journey.

Build Your Systems

As early as you can, carve out time for creating good systems - from project management, to handling sales, to your contracts and terms that protect you. Never the ‘sexy’ part of running a business, but don’t underestimate the headspace and freedom that setting these systems up early will create for you as a Founder. Investing time in automating these elements of your business early on, will give you the freedom to do the work you love without the worry.

Create a good project management system and carve out time you want for every part of the business - from creating and doing the work to strategizing and planning for the future. The less exciting, administrative and system side of your business will protect you now and, in the future, and don’t let it fall by the wayside.

Schedule Your Rest

If you’ve built your dream business, and you are lucky enough to wake up every day doing the thing you love, it can be incredibly hard to naturally want to take a break and rest as much as might have done when working for someone else. Have a weekly and daily review of how and when you are going to rest. Scheduling the time and place for your rest means you are much more likely to do it. Plan it like an important meeting with your most valuable asset to the business - you.

Like so many businesses, I founded Klioh during the lockdown when there was little else to do, and I'd happily spend 6am-6pm a day at my desk building the business with little break. The subsequent burn out seriously affected our long-term growth when I got to the point where I was too exhausted to think strategically or creatively for periods of time. Now, I structure my days in working and resting blocks (the resting blocks always being away from the screen) and I have seen a consistent difference in my resilience, mental health, my confidence as a Founder, and ability to run my business as a result.

At Klioh Studio, we support Female Founders ready to take the next step in defining who they want to be and how they want to be it. We specialise in beautiful designs, but because of our collective experiences as a team of Founders, we also foster a community of support, encouragement and growth - giving Female Founders the tools to navigate their digital presence and confidence in themselves as a business owner.  As you grow your business, identify your non-negotiables, set your boundaries between what you are prepared to do and what doesn’t align with the business and priorities for your life, find a community to support you, don't neglect the admin, and enjoy the journey.