Episode 5: Empowering Female Founders with Emmie Faust

Mar 7, 2023 | podcast | 0 comments

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You can find the full transcript for this episode at the bottom of this page

When you found a startup you’re embarking on a journey filled with uncertainty, risk, emotional ups and downs, and possibly the most challenging moments you’ve faced in your career. However, if you’re a female founder in particular, your journey will include a unique set of challenges and unfortunately, the odds are stacked against you.

Although 40% of companies in the U.S. are owned by women, female founded companies receive only a fraction of venture capital investments – about 2% in the U.S. and Europe. If we look at the rates for minority women we see an even grimmer picture with only 0.27% of black women founders receiving VC funding in 2021. Without that funding it can be incredibly difficult, and even impossible, for female founders to grow their businesses and compete with larger companies.

Female founders also face a unique set of challenges that result from unconscious bias, lack of community and mentorship, and many are juggling a caregiving role alongside their professional responsibilities. Not to mention the fact that our cultural conditioning may affect our confidence, or decrease our ability to maintain a sense of internal safety when engaging in the risk taking behaviors that are often required of successful founders. 

My guest on this week’s episode is on a mission to help female founders overcome these obstacles and defeat the odds. Through her latest company, Female Founders Rise, she’s helping to empower female founders and provide them with the resources and support needed to secure funding and everything else they need to successfully grow their companies.

“Historically, less women have set up businesses…And also with the kind of businesses that are getting funding it’s a lot of tech businesses, which historically less women have been in tech. So I think there’s lots of different reasons and challenges. But what we’re trying to do with Female Founders Rise is just come together as a community and support and champion women and break through those challenges.”

Emmie Faust is a mum of 4, serial exited founder, Dragon’s Den winner and founder of Female Founders Rise. Listen to the full episode to gain inspiration and insights from her entrepreneurial journey, and be sure to connect with Female Founders Rise so you don’t have to be on this journey alone.

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • The unique challenges faced by female founders and how Female Founders Rise is working to overcome them
  • Why leveling the playing field for founders requires the support of people of all genders
  • Why female founders may feel extra pressure to stay quiet when struggling with their mental health and why it’s important for Emmie to be vulnerable herself
  • How Emmie juggles her role as a founder and mom, and what helps her avoid burnout and overwhelm
  • Inspiration to help you shed your limiting beliefs that may be holding you back as a female founder

Find Emmie Online:

Resources & Inspiration from the Show

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Disclaimer: The Founders’ Fears & Failures is for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only. It is not meant to be used for personal health advice and should not be construed to constitute personal or professional consultation or guidance, or to replace medical or mental health treatment. The opinions expressed by this podcast, including the podcast guests, are not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of a medical or mental health provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your medical and/or mental health needs. If you are in crisis, please visit this website to find a list of suicide hotlines around the globe. 

Episode Transcript

Melissa 

Emmie, thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s really great to have you.

Emmie 

Thanks, Melissa. I’m excited to be here with you. I know it’s the very early morning for you. And it’s nearly off is afternoon for me. So…

Melissa 

Yeah, but I’ve had several people on the show, actually, most of the people on the show haven’t even been in the US. So it’s I love connecting with people around the globe. And I’ve been following you on LinkedIn with what you’re doing with Female Founders Rise. And when you said you wanted to come on the show, I was just so excited to have you here.

Emmie 

Thank you. Thanks. I’ve done a bit of a sort of like, I don’t know, like I think I’ve been on, I’ve been invited on like six podcasts. And I’m doing them all in the space of a week. But actually, what I realized is I love talking about what I’m doing. I love talking. So it’s fine. I love it. Thank you for inviting me.

Melissa 

Yeah, no, that’s fantastic. Well, I’m excited that you’re here. And you know, you sent me a little bio very short and sweet. But I’d love to, I’d love to have you tell us a little bit more about your founders story. And obviously, like what you’re doing with Female Founders Rise, but if you could also just give us a little background? What What brought you to where you are today?

Emmie 

Yeah, it’s a long story. So I’m 45 now, and I started when I was 25, set up my first business. And I think even before that, I was always working and loving work and loved work because it you know, it gave me money, which gave me financial independence until I was 25. And I actually was working for myself, which is obviously different. And I think that’s when I realized that I love the entrepreneurship, the sort of like running a business and employing people and that excitement, you know, getting clients making money being it wasn’t all about making money, but you know, obviously, when you did a big deal or got a big client, and it was like, oh, that’s exciting, but also love, like hiring people. And I don’t know, it’s just the challenge of like running a company. So I set up my first business when I was 25, which was a media agency. And then out of that we spawned lots of sort of businesses, which some of which was successful, and some of which weren’t. But ultimately, we had quite a few successful businesses, which we sold or exited all of them about 10 years ago now. And then I’ve just been doing consultancy, and more recently, last summer been angel investing and set up Female Founders Rise as my own project, I just got bored of… not bored, but like when I ran my businesses, I loved it. But it was really stressful. And then I sold them that was quite stressful. And I was like, I don’t want to ever run a business again, that’s like way too much. So I was like, I’ll go and do consulting, and I’ll help other people. And then I realized it’s all consulting is almost like working for like each of your clients. So if you’ve got four clients, you’re almost like working for four businesses, which was actually pretty tough. And then I was like, I just want to do something for myself again, but it’s something that’s my project that is that, that I decide on the vision in the future. But I don’t want to be super stressful. I don’t want to employ loads of people and but you know, it’s growing. So who knows what’s gonna happen?

Melissa 

I see that in a lot of entrepreneurs like it’s like, okay, I’m just gonna keep things simple. And it just gets bigger and bigger. But but it’s fantastic. So where did the, where did the idea from for Female Founders Rise come from?

Emmie 

I’ve had it in the back of my mind for ages. I don’t know if you’ve read this book called “Big Magic,” which is this amazing book about how there’s…Have you read it?  It’s amazing. So all these ideas floating around. And these ideas that I there’s just too many ideas that are always coming to me tapping me on the shoulder. And this one’s been tapping me on the shoulder for quite some time actually just basically saying, you know, I really want to come to life. And so I’ve been thinking about it for ages, I thought, wouldn’t it be great for there to be some kind of go to resource of female founders where they could go and get everything they need from like sort of a set. You know, there’s so much stuff out there isn’t there on the internet, there’s so many accelerators, and so many resources, a lot of them aren’t that reputable, a lot of them are either trying to get your money, or they’re not maybe giving you the best advice. And obviously, because I’ve been doing it for 20 years, I’ve met all the best people in the in the field or the people that are trusted or really good. And oftentimes, these people aren’t expensive, or there’s loads of great free resources. It’s more about collating all of that. And also bringing women together in community to just have a good time support each other and lift each other up, champion each other and have fun.

Melissa 

I love that you have because I think there’s so much. I don’t know, I think a lot of times women can feel like there’s a lot of competition, right? And it doesn’t seem like that’s the spirit you’re trying to send out at all.

Emmie 

There’s no competition. It’s almost like if you sign up you’ve got the abundance mindset. Otherwise, you know, you’re not invited. And I often say things like that in our emails just to sort of like weed out anyone that doesn’t have the abundance mindset or just not weed them out. But just make people realize that this is a community where we’re you know that we’re stronger together. So like I asked everyone to invite two people. It’s a free community at the moment at some point there will be some revenue generating money making area. But given that we’re giving so much value, I asked people to, you know, invite two people, which is another sort of way of building the community. But it’s quite interesting because a VC who came a venture capital, going back to capital came to one of our networks. And he said, I haven’t seen it’d been anything like this before, where I’m like crowded around with loads of women, and they’re all lifting each other up and making sure they will get a chance to talk. You know, it’s there’s none of the competition that maybe you know, you’d normally have, where you’re all sort of competing against each other. And so it was telling me that actually, like, when someone posted about that today, like, traditionally, women have been sort of taught to compete against each other. I don’t know if that’s true, but I think it is. And I’ve got a friend, actually, who’s in corporate, and she set up on her own. And I was saying to her, Well, why don’t you collaborate with all these other people? She was like, Yeah, but they’re my competitors. She said, I’d never do that, because she’d been taught in her court, but there’s only like, one, you know, there’s only one opening. And so you have to get it. So you can’t sort of collaborate with with everyone else. And I said, but that’s not really how it works. Like when you’re running your own business. And she was like, Oh, my gosh, this is amazing. Like, I’ve seen a whole different sides of sort of, like, I don’t know, running a business, but I think maybe when you you, you’ve been in a corporate and there’s only one job, or one person’s gonna get that promotion, you sort of are competing with other people.

Melissa 

Yeah, yeah. That’s interesting to think maybe there’s a difference between the world of entrepreneurship, although I would wonder if maybe amongst entrepreneurs, there’s also some of that feeling of competition for competing for funding.

Emmie 

I think there is to a point. It is interesting. So I have only come across two women, I think that have sort of seen me as competition. And then and really, because what I normally do is if I meet someone who’s doing something similar, or the potential overlap, I’ll instantly say, I’m one of those people that believes in collaboration over competition, you know, maybe we’re doing something similar, but how can we collaborate, and then that moves the conversation. And often those people are very much the same anyway. But just in case they weren’t, it always moves the conversation in that way. Like, I’m not here to compete, I’m here to help. And you know, most of the time, we are doing something different. I think I’ve only come across two, twice, where someone’s been, like really, really competitive about what we’re doing and hasn’t been up for that collaboration. And that’s, that’s a bit sad. But there’s only two people out of probably, I don’t know, 1000s of women that I’ve met who who are up for collaborating. And interesting, on International Women’s Day, we’re also doing another event, which I sort of semi organized, where there’s probably three networks that are overlapping with what I’m doing. So some of them are for female techpreneurs. Some of them are for creatives. And a lot of those have got women and creative and like those female creative founders, and some of them are for diverse founders who’ve got women. So I was like, well, let’s just all come together and do something together. So basically, we’ve got seven people from each community coming to this, like 35 in total. And we’re going to all meet up on the Monday of International Women’s Day. And we’re going to do networking. So bringing our communities together. And we’ve got some of us that there’s sometimes a bit of overlap in the communities. But I was like, well, that’s a really positive message to sort of potential people that might be competitors, but they’re not that we can collaborate together.

Melissa 

Yeah, kind of like leading by example.

Emmie 

Yeah. And I mean, they will really up for it. So it’s been really nice. And actually, like, do you know, it’s really interesting, I sort of feel like that’s going to be a more fun event for me, because it’s not all the pressures not on me. Whereas the International Women’s Day event I’m doing is me is me, like leading it. There’s 100 people and I’m like, Oh my gosh, I’m like, I’ve got no one. I’ve got lots of lovely supporters. But I think when you’re doing like a joint event, and there’s four organizations, it feels like well, we’re doing that together. So we’re all in it together. It’s really interesting. Actually, I feel like for me, that’s a lot less pressure. And more fun. Maybe.

Melissa 

Yeah, and you’re are you based in London? Is that right?

Emmie 

Yeah. based in London.

Melissa 

Yeah. But it sounds I mean, I found you. I’m in Seattle, so yeah, I think you are you doing some online stuff as well as that right?

Emmie 

Yeah, doing it? Yeah. Did you heard about me before we got connected? Had you heard about Female Founders Rise?

Melissa 

I don’t remember how I came across you actually somewhere…it was the magic of LinkedIn.

Emmie 

Yeah, exactly. LinkedIn, the power of LinkedIn. So I would say we are online. It’s an online community. We are doing meetups in London, just because a lot of our members are there. But we want to do meetups in like, up north in Manchester, maybe in Cardiff if we’ve got enough members. And there’s already people who have joined from like Europe and America, but at the moment. I’m just trying to focus on the UK because I feel like if I can nail that then we can open up into Europe and America. If that’s you know what should happen? But at the moment there’s loads of people In the UK, which is an area and ecosystem that I know really well, where I’m well connected to like VC, when I say well connected, I’m much better connected to like VCs and angels and people that can help be my founders. Because obviously, that’s what I’ve been doing for like, through my consultancy for the last 10 years. Yeah.

Melissa 

Yeah, that seems very smart to me. I mean, yeah, just from what I know, from from the entrepreneur world as well just start there. But I mean, you’re on a podcast that does have an international audience. I mean, we’re pretty new. But, you know, this might help you to get some more eyes on Female Founders Rise from from other parts of the globe. So let’s talk about some of those unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face. What in your experience and with the women that that you’ve, you’re supporting? What are some of those challenges you find?

Emmie 

I think some of the I think, you know, it depends what stage they’re at. So I think it depends on lots of things like their family situation and their age, and you know, where they’re based and things. But there’s a chunk of female founders, right, who are trying to get funding, and obviously, like, probably the same in America, I’m pretty sure it’s the same, is much more difficult. Well, a lot less venture capital is going to women. And therefore, there’s those challenges around the conscious and unconscious bias, and around women having less access to funding and people, you know, warm introductions from networks, and all that kind of stuff. So there’s a whole challenge around the funding piece. I think there’s also the challenge around being a woman and you know, as a mum, if you’ve got children, even if you don’t have children, there’s often additional sort of domestic load or work that mean, you know, a sort of work life balance is really challenging. I’ve got four kids. So like, I know how that is. Actually, I think it was I was just saying, someone, I think it was almost easier for me, pre-COVID when I was like going into an office, because I could almost forget, I’d be so busy with my work. And obviously I had childcare, I’d sort of forget about my kids. And I could like, you know, but I’d be like working like proper working and then I get home and there’d be that sort of delineation, I think often I left my computer at work, I don’t think I used to work in the evenings. So I think you know, that is that that is a real challenge for women. And also, like, as our parents get older, often were the ones that are like, hearing more, and just the sort of general load of domestic work that typically, you know, is shown to a beautiful woman. So think there’s quite a few challenges in there. But yeah, I think historically, just like less women have set up businesses and things like that. So it’s just really like getting more women into entrepreneurship. And also definitely, with the kind of businesses that are getting funding, it’s a lot of it is sometimes sort of tech businesses, which historically, obviously, less women have been in tech. So I think there’s lots of different reasons and challenges. But what we’re trying to do with Female Founders Rise is just come together as a community and support and champion women and you know, break through those challenges. Not that easy. How many did you just list off you? Yeah, you’re kind of, I’m imagining a little army, right? Coming out. Like you’re all coming together to tackle them. Really hard. I’ve really struggled with, I thought getting more funding to female founders wouldn’t be that hard. And I thought, Oh, no one’s just done this yet. And I’ve got this big big network of women. And I know, I could get all the VCs and the people with money, and I can put them together, but it’s not that easy. Unfortunately, that was the plan.

Melissa 

But it’s not just matchmaking.

Emmie 

No, it’s not that easy. Because I think you know, what VCs want, what Venture Capital want, what angels want, it’s all very different. And everyone’s got their own sort of thesis and their own plans. And there’s so many things that are behind the scenes that you know, you wouldn’t necessarily know about.

Melissa 

Yeah, yeah. And like you mentioned that there is so much unconscious bias too, which is really unfortunate.

Emmie 

Yeah, there is. I sort of also had hoped that wasn’t the case. But it is. And the more work that I do, the more I realized that that is the case. I think, you know, I had a business with a guy and so I probably didn’t necessarily notice it that much, though. They obviously they can board meetings and stuff I remember and I still and even recently, as a board advisor, I’d still be ignored, my voice would be ignored. Interestingly, up until recently, I was a board advisor. And often I’d be taking the notes and things like that. Oh, yeah, it’s very sort of like traditional like, the women can take the notes. And just not having my voice listened to which I found quite upsetting actually, and I think that’s one of the reasons that I just set off and was like, You know what, I’m going to be my own boss. I’m going to set up my own board. I’m going to if I do I will listen to the voices of others. I’m not going to sit around a table anymore where I’m not listened to. It’s kind of depressing. And I think it was making me ill actually not just that, but doing the consulting were just no one listened to me. And I really do think it was partly because I was a woman, they didn’t see that I’d been successful.

Melissa 

Yeah, well, so, like, tell us more about that. Like, how do you go from saying, like, hey, no one’s listening to me. Because I think a lot of women might say, like, well, no one’s listening to me. So you know, nevermind. But you said, no one’s listening to me, I’m gonna go.

Emmie 

It was like, literally, I was like, I and you know what, one of the things they wouldn’t listen to me about was setting up a community. So I was like, I’ll show you it’s bloody easy. Look at me. Now, it’s not like I wasn’t trying to be sort of like, I wasn’t trying to be sort of, but it just really annoyed me. I kept saying, why don’t you set up a community, it’s not that hard. And they had a huge, massive audience, it’d been so easy. And I thought about doing Female Founders Rise for ages, and cause it wasn’t like, you know, but I’m just trying to say, it’s not that hard. I wish they’d listened to me. But I think, you know, bashing my head against a brick wall for so long with people that were paying me quite good money, but not listening to my advice. It really wore me down. And when I could see that, you know, things were happening that weren’t what I had planned, or I’d suggested, or I’d recommended, and that they weren’t doing any favors the business, kind of, it really got to me. And I just remember thinking enough’s enough, I’m not going to, you know, I’m not going to have these, like old, pale male, stale board advisors, like ignoring me, I’m going to do it myself. I’ve had enough. And, you know, I also had long COVID. And I’d been ill, and, you know, sort of took a whole break from everything. And I was like, this is not making me well, you know, I don’t want to do this anymore. And I started investing in female founders. And that opened up a whole new ecosystem. I’ve met. I mean, I’ve probably been connected with 4000 people since last summer. I think I have I looked at my LinkedIn. And it’s like, literally blown up. And I think and I’ve been connected with so many amazing women and angel investors and people in venture capital. And I’ve literally, like done an MBA in entrepreneurship, even though I’d already sort of done one before. A whole new kind of, you know, I’ve learned so much. It’s been amazing.

Melissa 

Wow, yeah, it really shows the power of you know, what can happen in a short amount of time when you decide you’re going to start a new project?

Emmie 

Yeah, exactly. And I think, you know, I’ve been lucky, obviously, because I’ve been able to dedicate all my, you know, not doing it full time, but dedicate my time and energy to it, because I’ve sold my business in the past, which is obviously funding me not working. But I do sort of believe that if you want to do something, even if you’re to do something like this on the side, it might take a bit longer, but it would be doable to a point. And I think, you know, I’m, it’s not generating huge amounts of revenue, but I could probably, well not live off it, but I mean, you know, there is money coming in from doing events and things like that. So it wouldn’t be it won’t be long before it’s like sustainable.

Melissa 

Yeah. Well, I’m so curious, because it sounds like you have a very, like, go get them kind of attitude, like, do you? Is this something you’ve always had as an entrepreneur? Or have you had to learn to like, say, Yeah, well,

Emmie 

I mean, I haven’t always been confident. There’s been ups and downs, you know, like when I saw my business, and then I wasn’t doing anything and sort of thinking, What should I do with myself? You know, after every time I’ve had a baby, you lose your confidence. So there’s definitely been ups and downs. I think when I first started my business, I was really young. And in some ways, I was confident that like, I wasn’t confident if we were pitching to clients, I’d never had any experience doing that. And pitched in Dragon’s Den and got funding, I was confident when I did that. So it’s kind of weird. I think there’s been ups and downs. And I think it very much depends on like, what else is going on, I really lost my confidence after having babies and you sort of be out of like, work a bit, and then you sort of be going back in and almost like, oh, trying to find like your little space where you were because maybe someone’s already almost sort of taken that over. And then you know, there’s been a few failed businesses and stuff where I kind of lost my confidence a bit, but I think I feel like I had a really tough time over the last two years with long COVID and with the consultancy, not working out and I was just literally, like, come out the other side. I’m like, I’ve that is that’s the past, I’ve had enough of that. And I’m just not. I feel like I’m not I don’t want to stand for other people’s bad behavior. You know, and also that I just need to speak my mind, which I basically haven’t for like a long time.

Melissa 

Yeah, it sounds like you’re kind of like enough is enough.

Emmie 

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Hopefully, I’m not getting really preachy and annoying.

Melissa 

Maybe, I don’t know. I think it’s really inspiring because I think in my experience one of the challenges for women, female founders is the lack of confidence too, right? I think unfortunately that’s something we’re socialized into as well to kind of like stand back and not take up too much space.

Emmie 

Yeah, be humble. I mean, that was the whole thing. When I saw my business I was so humble. I was I never told anyone I’d made millions of pounds or done X Y, Zed, because, you know, I was told to be humble, and it was almost be like, Oh, God, don’t don’t talk about that, that’s so crass. And then I did couldn’t get any consultancy clients, because no one knew I’d been successful. So, you know, why would they hire me if they didn’t know what I was capable of? And it took me working with a mindset coach to like, totally change my, my sort of ways with that. And I do see like women undercharging themselves a lot. And you know, when in my consultancy days, whenever I was working with women, I’d always be like, you’re not charging enough charge more. But that, you know, I wasn’t charging the same as men either. And I knew I wasn’t, and I think also men, and people don’t expect you to charge that much. Because you’re a mum, and you’ve got kids, and you’re just having a bit of fun on the side. Not serious job. Maybe just a hobby. Oh, gosh, you charge that much. That’s a lot. That’s what I charge. I was like, Yeah, well, we are both consultants. Yeah, I did have an interesting friend who asked to hire me. And then when I told him my rate, which was half appears, he said it was too much, but then went on to tell me what he charged. And I was like, Wow, just like a weird conversation. You know? Surely, if you want to hire me, you should be expecting me to charge the same as you charge. Because in my eyes, I was actually better than him. But I was deluded, and maybe I was deluded and maybe I wasn’t better than him. But you know, that’s that kind of behavior use that kind of behavior and consultancy. Really, you know, here’s my head and…

Melissa 

Yeah, wow, wow. Yeah. So unfortunate. So fantastic that you’re empowering other women to…

Emmie 

Yeah, okay, fine. I think what I really just want to do is champion women, let them know that they are capable of doing all these things, whatever anyone says, I’m to provide a community and support network around them. And I just want to have fun. I just want to hang out with other nice, fun women and have a good time.

Melissa 

Yeah, yeah. I love that. I know, I wish I was, if I posted this on your LinkedIn today, I wish I was going to be you know, not halfway around the world for International Women’s Day. But yeah, I do not have plans to hop on a plane to London and

Emmie 

We’re doing a LinkedIn. We’re doing something on with LinkedIn the following day it Oh, no, because it’s nine o’clock in the morning. That’s make us be that’ll you’ll be in bed

Melissa 

Yeah, we’ll be asleep. Got a two year old myself.

Emmie 

I was confused with the times I was thinking like New Zealand, Australia, you won’t be awake?

Melissa 

No, but I hope to join one of the events. You know something. So on this podcast, we’re really trying to break the stigma around mental health challenges and get more vulnerable about, you know, the behind the scenes, the challenges that are happening for founders as well. But what I’m what I think is that for a lot of women, that’s especially difficult for them, right? Because I think there’s a lot of pressure to put on this facade, right of like, I’ve got it all together at because it it right, like they’re there because of the stigma right around? Um, the unconscious bias we talked about. Do you have any thoughts about that about what women can do if they are struggling as a founder?

Emmie 

Well, I mean, I’ve got lots of thoughts about all of that. So first of all, I do think like we are, I think, if you got, you know, a lot of women feel like they want to be taken seriously by investors or by anyone, then they can’t like show what’s going on in reality, because that’s like a sign of weakness. And, you know, a lot of investors are already already thinking, gosh, you know, are they going to be okay, because they’ve got family, and they’ve got this and, you know, so I think it’s really hard because a lot of people feel like they have to put on a brave face. And it’s really interesting, actually, because, you know, I couldn’t be myself on LinkedIn until I stopped consulting. Because if I was myself, and people saw, you know, that I was having a breakdown, or that I was struggling, or that I thought that, you know, the pale, male, stale investors were total, you know whaties? Maybe people wouldn’t hire me. So I had to, like, keep myself quiet. And I think there’s so many people having to stay quiet, because maybe the people that they are having a bad time with the people that are causing the mental health issues is either their boss, or it’s the people that want to invest in them. They did a really interesting post about having a toxic client and basically having to get rid of my client, which got picked up by LinkedIn news. And I was inundated with messages just saying thank you so much for posting me as I’m having the same problem with my boss. I have had that problem myself. And I of course, I wouldn’t have been able to say that if that was my boss, or if I wanted the client, if I wanted to keep the client. I mean, I would have lost the client immediately. But because obviously I’m in that position that I didn’t need that client and actually they were making me ill and I could say no, I was able to post that. So I think it’s really difficult. I think a lot of people are struggling in silence because they can’t say the real thing. But that, that’s why I’m very vocal now about my, you know, so before COVID, I was like, super woman, mentally, physically super strong, going to do Pilates or yoga every day, going out with my friends, doing all my work seeing my kids, like, I don’t know, I mean, sleeping amazing what I never even thought about mental health was never even like a thing. I mean, I did my meditation, I did my mindfulness. But definitely actually had anxiety, but I sort of hadn’t put it down to like anything worrying. And then when I recovered from COVID, and I then also decided, during the pandemic, my husband lost his job, which was a massive stressor. And I then decided to move my whole family to Wales, which was sort of okay, but didn’t really work out. And then I had to move them all back to London. So that was six people, I moved to Wales, and then back to London. So that was a massive mental toll on me and my family. And basically, I had a sort of extended burnout breakdown, long COVID, hormone dysfunctional mess for like 18 months. And I basically couldn’t really do any work. I couldn’t often look after my kids, I couldn’t go out, I couldn’t see friends, I basically had to cancel everything, I make plans, you know, like, one day, I’d be feeling great. So I’d make loads of plans. And then the next day, I’d be feeling terrible. And I’d have to cancel everything. So pretty much canceled everything for like a year. Sorry, I just got something in my throat then. And so I’m very vocal about that now, because I feel like it’s important. I can’t just pretend everything’s okay. Because actually, the stress of having more kids and do all that consultancy work and the pandemic. And, you know, the stress of being a mom is just a lot. And so, and interestingly, I had this session about two years ago, in the middle of feeling terrible, with this woman in Bali, and I didn’t really know what it was about. I’d been, it’d been organized by one of my clients. And she said, its soul guidance. And I was like, Okay, fine. I don’t know what this is at all. Anyway, in this session, it came out that I was going to help women, lots of women, it was going to be huge amounts of women that I was helping. And I wasn’t just going to help them with their business like I had been, I was going to help them in a much more holistic way with their business, but in a more holistic way. And I was going to share my stories of like, what has happened to me, being a mom running a business, and I was going to share the whole thing. And I basically, like was crying my eyes out, I was on the floor, like, you know, it was sort of not a meditation, but it was like this sort of session. And I was crying my eyes out because it was what she was saying to me, it was gonna happen. And I was like, so the most ideal thing in the world what I what I couldn’t hope more, you know what, everything that I would love to do what I dreamed of, but I just couldn’t ever see it happening because I was consulting for mostly men. And I didn’t have the power to say that I only wanted to consult with women in case there weren’t enough women. In one case, people were said, Why aren’t you working for women, that’s terrible. So and she said, so it’s going to be totally different. And you know, you’re not going to be working with men, it’s going to be women, there’s going to be loads of them, you’re going to be up on stage, you’re going to be running like these big things. And it’s kind of interesting, because then I’d forgotten about that. But after setting up Female Founders Rise and starting to invest in women in November, last year, which was a year one from this session, it was only an hour, I found the recording, and I listened to it again, this is about three months ago, I listened to it. And I was like, Oh my gosh, this is like all coming together. And you know, I’m about to host an event for 100 people I’m about to do something that Google for, like 100 people. So and it’s quite interesting, because you said you’re going to run is going to there’s going to be some some part of it’s going to be free, because you want to help lots of people and have a big impact. But then there’s going to also be paid stuff, but she’s like, you don’t need to worry about making money because it’s going to happen. And the big corporates will be what, where your money come from. And so with Female Founders Rise everyone keeps asking me how I’m gonna make money and they’re all very worried about it. And I just keep saying, I don’t know how I’m gonna make money. I don’t, it’s gonna happen. Because in my head, I know it’s gonna happen because everything’s coming together. Like it was meant to but for a lot of people that’s kind of worrying that I don’t know. Because I just believe that, you know, it will if it’s meant to be it will be and there’s going to be part of it, which is bringing women together, and there’s going to be a free element to it and then there’s going to be some way that it’s going to make money so it’s going to be successful, and it’s going to help a lot of people and impact a lot of people but I don’t know how it is I just gonna go with it.

Melissa 

Yeah, wow, it’s gonna you got shown this vision of the future and you’re just yeah, working your way towards that.

Emmie 

Exactly. But it’s kind of just like happening without me. Yeah, of course I’m putting in the work. But like I put on one of my goals on LinkedIn, I wanted to talk with Google. And that’s two, three weeks later, it was all been booked in.

Melissa 

Yeah. Oh, how exciting. How do you deal with? Maybe, do you have any fear of success at all? Because I know that’s something else some women struggle? Well, some people.

Emmie 

The only the only fear of success for me is that it would be the overwhelm. I don’t mind being successful, because I think I already I’d say, would have been success. I think being a mom of four kids is successful. The thing for me is the top like having had sort of the burnout breakdown and been in such bad way and not able to do anything. But I think I’m so aware of the boundaries now of like, not so actually, like, I had all these research calls that I’m doing this week, I’ve got loads. And then but what I did last night, which is quite interesting is from like two o’clock every day, and I can look at my diary. Now Thursday, Friday, I put from two to like seven, I’ve got a big like, nothing’s going my diary. That’s just time with the kids time doing nothing. I think I could pretty much put that information next week. Yeah, I have. So sometimes if I feel like oh, I’ve got a lot on today, I’ve had like, you know, a lot on a lot more than I normally would probably not much more than most working people. But I don’t want to get myself into that. I don’t want to be overwhelmed and doing too much, then I’ll just cancel stuff in the evening. A bit like I used to when I was ill, I would be constantly canceling stuff, constantly saying to people, I can’t do stuff. And then I just put myself to bed at nine o’clock or 930. And I’m quite good at doing that. Now if I feel a bit like bit overwhelmed, I’ll just be like, I’ll go to bed at 930 cancel anything that’s not important. But I don’t really have to do that so much anymore, because I think I’m much more in tune with. And I think the lovely thing about Female Founders Rise is at the moment, there’s no payment, so there’s no responsibility on me. Whereas I’ve got one lovely client who pays me and he’s really easy and lovely. But before when I was being paid by a client, you, they’ve got a hold on you do not I mean, it’s like they’re expecting something from you. And you can’t always deliver it because what if their setup is totally wrong, you know, and I used to find that quite responsibility. So it’s quite interesting. Like this morning. I was telling you earlier, we had a lady from New Zealand doing a talk and she was brilliant. And it all went a bit wrong in that the master class hadn’t been set up correctly, so we couldn’t get her on. And I had to move 40 people from this masterclass webinar onto Zoom, which is like a totally different platforms that has all come off and going on a new link. And I was sort of laughing about it. But I thought, well, it doesn’t matter because this is free. I’m about to give everyone it’s amazingly valuable. masterclass. So it’s probably worth about 300 quid to them each for free. And it’s gone a bit wrong, but who cares? And I was kind of thinking like, if I was charging for this, would I feel differently? Did I mean, I probably, I think what I need to remember if I was charging for it is that it would be totally fine. Because it would still be really valuable. But I remember just thinking, thank God, this is just something that I’m doing for free, because no one could be cost and be like, This is so unprofessional. But we’ve done this, our members are so lovely and amazing that I don’t I mean, one of them was whatapping me saying that was amazing, you’re amazing. You did that? You know, you were as cool as a cucumber doing that. So they’re also sweet. I don’t think they would have been minded but there’s definitely something about not being paid. And I think at the moment, I’m quite happy with not being paid just while I build the community.

Melissa 

So what about for your members who do need to be paid that are trying to you know, get get that investment? What, what tips do you give them for dealing dealing with some of that anxiety around it?

Emmie 

Well, lots of our members are trying to get funding. So I would say a huge, a huge chunk of the community. And that’s kind of like one of the that’s one of the sort of big segments that I’m talking to is people trying to get funding. And it’s really hard. And I just spoke to someone today who’d closed a funding round. So that was really good. And then I just spoke to the lady afterwards who was looking for funding. I think it’s about I share with them that I think firstly, I think there’s lots of confusion around where to look like everyone thinks that VC funding is the big thing. But actually, VC will be a very particular beast and about particular stage of your business. And there’s confusion about where to look. So lots of people go to VCs when actually they’re not ready and they should be going to Angel. So I think part of it’s about educating them on all the options and when it’s what’s right for them. Also, I just keep saying it’s just hard work, isn’t it just got to get your head down and stop listening to all the noise and be confident that you’re going to get it and I think that’s the main thing like just trying to share stories that people are getting funding it will happen and just supporting people I think for them being part of a community where a they know they’re not on it on their own and be they can see other people getting funding is quite nice.

Melissa 

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Just to know, you know, maybe I’m not getting it right now, but there is hope for the future. Yeah.

Emmie 

Yeah.

Melissa 

Yeah. I love that. Yeah. Yeah. I just love what you’re doing. I really it’s just really inspiring. And I’ve had, you know, this this podcast, it’s not, it’s not focused specifically on women. But I have, I would say the majority of my guests have been women. And it’s I’m like, maybe I want to make it a women’s only podcast, I don’t think I will. I do really enjoy working with men as well. But yeah, the statistics have been

Emmie 

We have men in the community. So. So the important thing is, is is not only women who are going to make the change, we’re trying to support women to get more funding and be more successful and grow successful businesses. But we need men as well. So we’ve got cheerleaders, I call them cheerleaders. So they can sign up to the wider community, I haven’t managed to send any them an email yet, because I’ve been so busy living there. Like my core focus is like good luck off these female founders. That’s like my core focus. And I’m growing this community outside of that, who are any everyone who’s contacted me saying I want to get involved, I want to get involved. It’s like, wait, sign up. And at some point, and I sent and then they get an automated email saying hello. And at some point, they will get some communication for me when I get a chance just to say you’re in. But a lot of those people, they might be VCs or angels, or they want to help with pitch practice, or they want to, they’re male founder, and they just want to show their support. So they might come to meetups and stuff like that. So it’s very much like we need men, you know, it’s not men versus women, or women versus men, it’s women plus men. We all want the gender equality. Well, like 99% of us want gender equality, most men, you know, desperately wanting it. And it’s just the old way that the society that society is, isn’t it? These ingrained things that are going to change. But I’m, I’m learning a lot about all that as well. You know, do you know what I never realized it was a big issue until I’ve really started like delving down into it. And I’d be like, Why is this I need to work out. Why is it this can’t be why. You know, why? Why is it that women aren’t equal? Like, you know, I’ve maybe been living a bit in the dark, but I’m understanding all the challenges with getting funding, it’s really made me realize that you know, what’s going on?

Melissa 

Yeah, yeah, it sounds like maybe in your experience, you’ve really had maybe had some some luck. And just with with not having to face some of those challenges, and now you’re really diving in deep to discover them?

Emmie 

Yeah, I think so. Well, maybe I just haven’t really been aware, like, you know, maybe even I had that sort of unconscious bias myself were like, oh, yeah, I’m charging. You know, I was always struggling to charge my worth, or, you know, someone said, you can’t say your worth, because we’re all worth a huge amount, you know, but But you know, struggling to charge, the value that my services provide?

Melissa 

Yeah, well, that’s the thing, right? We’re sometimes our biggest critics, right? And we’re the ones holding ourselves back often. So yeah, I think it’s, it’s, I’m just so excited about what you what everything you’ve been sharing, and that you’re discovering, and I’m glad you’re in a place now that you can be more vulnerable and share some of the behind the scenes too. Because I do think it’s very powerful. And I do want to ask, before we run out of time, what about tell us a little bit more about be juggling the being a mom and, and being a founder as well, because I think that’s something that holds a lot of women back as well.

Emmie 

Yeah, it’s really interesting. So like, I have had, I had one person in my community sort of say, like, I really want to have babies, but like, I don’t know what to do, because how am I gonna be able to juggle that I was actually on a podcast on Monday recording, and it was a young lady, and she was saying the same thing. She was like, I just, I’m scared. Like, you know, I see you with four kids. But like, how am I going to do it? I think, you know, maybe I was probably lucky, because I had a co founder. I was also lucky, because I wasn’t on this big, you know, investment I was we were bootstrapping our business. We were self funded, which I think means you don’t have the pressure of an outside person, or group of people. And it all felt maybe much easier then because I think people were in offices and stuff. I feel like this hybrid work is like, is really good in a way. But also it’s hard if you’re trying to run a business and make sure everyone’s happy and productive. And you’re thinking about their mental health and also like new people joining it was so much easier when we’re in an office and we could facilitate them and put new people and we could take everyone out for lunch and stuff like that. So yeah, I do think what I totally lost my lost my track about what we’re talking about. Remind me

Melissa 

About the challenges of being a mom at the same time. Yeah. I was getting distracted too. I was thinking about I was like, Yeah, it’s so hard when my son is sick and I have to juggle things.

Emmie 

Exactly. You know, I feel like I’ve been on so many calls today and I literally just went down laughing and then I forgot what it was, it’s also my  perimenopausal brain. But being a mom. Yeah, is that as well, you know, it’s like when they’re poorly at nighttime, you are typically the one that gets woken up, my husband and I are really good about that. But then, you know, it’s like, so hard to function the next day. And I always used to my husband’s amazing being woken up in the night, or getting up early and, and he’s like, Oh, he’s up and about, but like, especially when I was ill, I was really struggling with my sleep. And I anything, like being woken up in the night, that would really affect me. And I think also when you’re pregnant, and when you have babies and your, your sleeps massively distracted. So I would say, you know, having children is a challenge. But I wouldn’t put off having children because you want to be a founder, I definitely wouldn’t put off having children for that. It’s not worth it. And I wouldn’t put off starting a business because you’ve got children, because I do think there’s ways around it. Obviously, in the UK, childcare is very expensive, which is a real challenge. I was lucky that I’d already made I was making good money. By the time I had children’s I could afford childcare, my husband was working. But that’s a real challenge in the UK, it’s so expensive, and it’s getting more so. But you know, I see, there’s lots of amazing single women, I’ve had two of my research calls with single women, single mums with kids, who are like raising money and doing amazing work. And I’m like, wow, I take my hat off to you. There’s quite a few in our community actually. So yeah, it’s, it’s harder. And actually, I posted something yesterday about how I tell Axel that we’ve got the umbilical cords being cut, we’ve got these invisible strings that connect us. So we’re still connected. and like, if I’m away, because I’ve been going away quite a bit just to go and rest in Tenerife, in the sun. We’re still connected. But what I was thinking was that sort of these these invisible strings, it’s like when I’m at home, the string’s shorter, and they can pull on it a lot more. So like, you know, they’re here, and they’re in the house, and they’re constantly pulling on the strings, and at most, there’s four strings that were being pulled. And, actually, that’s kind of quite tough on your mental health if they’re being pulled all the time, which is what was happening in the pandemic, you know, lots of upset children in the house. So that was why like going out to the office, that string was just given a bit of a, you know, break. In the olden days, when the kids go to school, you get a break the, the invisible string just relaxes a bit when you go out to meetings, or when you go to the choir, all those things. So it’s about, I think it’s also about just having time away from your children, when they’re at school, or like doing stuff yourself in the evening, or I try and escape in the morning, sometimes really early in the mornings before they’re up and about just to give that string a bit of a break.

Melissa 

I love that. I love that idea. And you know, what I hear you saying too, is that it’s not just don’t just take a break to work on your company. Right? Like, take a break for you.

Emmie 

Yeah, um, what I found is really good. And I know a lot of people won’t be able to do this. But it’s been important for my recovery I’ve had to do my recovery is I’ve gone away. And I’ve gone to like somewhere, which is good for my well being where I’m escaping my family. And it’s just a break from everything. And I do a bit of work, but I do way less work. And I do a lot of reading books and a lot of exercise. So it’s almost like I can still work but I’m just having a break from it every day. You know, they’re just intense constant pulling on the strings. And that’s been a game changer for me for my recovery. It’s been really important. And even the doctor said that so that’s what I keep telling my husband.

Melissa 

Doctor’s orders. Yeah, exactly. I love that. Yeah, yeah. Well, I think there are small ways that people can do that. And I also liked what you were saying about just you mentioned pre-pandemic, you know, right, how we had these greater division between work and home life, and I hear you that it’s, you know, it brings with it like, you know, being able to work from home and those things like do help. But I see a lot of female entrepreneurs who are trying to do both at the same time, right, like watch their kids and work. I couldn’t do it. I mean, I didn’t get to like I didn’t return from maternity leave until my son could go to into childcare too, because I just, I can’t do it. I can’t imagine how people do it. And I think it’s asking quite a lot from yourself.

Emmie 

It’s asking a lot. And also I find like, I find that like if I’m working in fact one of the reasons I put those big, you know chunks in my diary so that like when the kids are around sometimes like it could be six o’clock at night and then Axel’s coming and going Mommy Mommy, can I have a cuddle or whatever and almost like a noise you know, because they’re like, distracting you. You want to get something done and it’s like terrible. It’s like, why am I on my computer doing stuff at six o’clock when he’s been at school all day. And I know you know, I just don’t need to do that at the moment. I don’t need to be be there at six. I need to have some time. Also for my own mental well being because trying to do that, like you said, trying to juggle the lot, and childcare and sort of almost be annoyed that you’re getting distracted is really hard work. So I think we have all those challenges as women, I think being a female founder is very different. And the more I talk to women, the more I realize that and we don’t want, we don’t want to be like, I think it’s just too different. You know, women and men, both great, both are both quite different. And both have got different challenges. And we should support everyone in their ways that they are needed, and also champion more women, because it’s not quite even yet.

Melissa 

Yeah, yeah. Well, I just have one more question for you. If we could go back in time to when you were starting your entrepreneur career, would you have any advice for yourself?

Emmie 

I think, um, what would I say? I mean, we had a non-exec director early on, which I think was really good. So I’d say definitely invest in advisors. But like finding the right one, I think there’s a lot of money and time and energy is wasted with with that with having no kind of strategy or plan. And I think that someone who’s been there and done, it can cut all those corners and save you so much money. And we noticed that with our non-exec directors, so I think that was really good. I’d also say, look after your team, they are so important. And I’d say your mental well-being is key. Without your mental health, you have nothing. And it’s very easy to put that to the side and think I just need to do more. I need to do more work. I need to do this. But actually, when you have, you don’t have your health, you can’t do any of it. So those would be the only things I’d say.

Melissa 

Those are three really important things. Yeah, sure. Short and sweet. But yeah, I mean, those those are really, really valuable takeaways. So I appreciate you sharing them. Is there anything more that you want to share with our audience?

Emmie 

No, it’s been lovely. I mean, I love talking about what I do and about female founders wise, and I’m grateful for you getting up early so that we could have this conversation.

Melissa 

I was honestly like a, like a kid on Christmas morning or something was like, Yeah, I’m so excited about this. So yeah, really lived up to your expectations. It really has me tell us, where can people find you if they want to get in touch with you and and join female founders? Right?

Emmie 

Yeah, LinkedIn is the best place. So I’m always on LinkedIn, me fast. female founders wise is on LinkedIn. We also do have a website. So if you go to any of those places, you’ll be able to sign up and follow our journey.

Melissa 

Yeah, I know. I think there’s gonna Yeah, I’m going to be following along and I will put all of those links in the show notes too, so that people can can connect with you too. So thanks so much. It’s been really lovely.

Emmie 

It’s been lovely to talk to you too.

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HI I’M MELISSA

I'm a therapist-turned-coach who loves working with clients around the world! I work with the globally mobile community to support them through transitions as well as entrepreneurs who need support navigating the rollercoaster of entrepreneur life.

I'm also the co-founder of the Location Independent Therapists (LIT) Community, a mom, a self-compassion advocate, and an aspiring author.

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