COVID-19 to Accelerate Female Entrepreneurship

Rhiannon Leila, founder and CEO of Flame and Arrow, LLC (Photo provided by Rhiannon Leila)

The coronavirus pandemic has created a great opportunity for many women to start the business they had always wanted and its “snowball effect” will inspire more female founders to take the leap and begin their entrepreneurial journeys, says an expert.  

“We are seeing a massive influx of women trying to start their businesses, having the opportunity to generate an income to provide for their family and build sustainable businesses amid a global pandemic,” Rhiannon Leila, founder & CEO at Flame and Arrow, LLC, told Via News in an interview.

Rhiannon, a Ph.D. holder in international leadership, helps women launch, grow, and scale their businesses through her company, which operates in North America, Asia, and Europe.

Photo credit: Flame and Arrow, LLC
Photo credit: Flame and Arrow, LLC

Here are excerpts of the interview, in which the business coach talks about a range of issues, including the impact of COVID-19 on female entrepreneurship, existing opportunities, lessons learned, the challenges facing women founders, and tips for business success:

Would you please tell us about your background?  

I’m a business coach for women. I started in tech in 2014 and that shifted over the years. I always worked with women and helped them grow their businesses, and it just evolved from being in the backend to going more to the frontend.

Would you please tell us about the company that you own?

I am the founder and CEO of Flame and Arrow, LLC. We are headquartered in North America with locations in Asia and now in Europe. Our whole premise is to coach women and help them grow their businesses.

It’s women in online service-based businesses who are struggling to find clients. They don’t quite know the next steps to take and are trying to build sustainable businesses. We help them grow.

Mass layoffs have affected the lives of many people in the world, including in Europe. How do you see the situation?

Layoffs are happening worldwide, but that has provided a lot of opportunities to shift into doing something remote and starting your own business.

The face of entrepreneurship, the face of everything has changed because of this. Now is a phenomenal opportunity to start an online business. As long as you have internet and you can show up and stay consistent, then you can build a sustainable business.

We have seen mom and dad shops just starting something on their own. I think that’s great because it allows the ‘smaller fish’, so to speak, to grow their businesses.

Given the impact of the coronavirus on sectors such as education and hospitality, do you think women are more likely to lose their jobs in this pandemic situation?

I’m not sure if women, specifically, are more likely to lose their jobs, but I know that the coronavirus is going to have an impact on education, hospitality, and other sectors.

Women are seeing a significant amount of effect. Even though things are shifting and various sectors have been impacted, we are still seeing a lot of opportunities and room for growth.

Photo credit: Flame and Arrow, LLC
Photo credit: Flame and Arrow, LLC

As a female founder, what have you learned from the coronavirus experience?

The first thing that I would say is ‘patience’. When you’re building a business, when you’re trying to start up, it can be difficult to be patient.

I got stuck in the U.S. for four and a half months. So many things are out of our control, and we can’t do anything except wait it out and be patient and just try to take the necessary steps forward in the midst of all of that.

How do you think the coronavirus pandemic will impact female entrepreneurship?

One interesting thing that we’re seeing is jobs are increasingly less safe and secure. That opened the door for women who were thinking about starting their businesses.

Now is a perfect time for that because as things are shifting, traditional jobs and traditional routes aren’t the best fit anymore because of the coronavirus.

We are seeing a massive influx of women trying to start their businesses, having the opportunity to generate an income to provide for their family and build sustainable businesses amid a global pandemic.

Read more: Need to Facilitate Funding Access for Female Entrepreneurs: WHTT’s Co-Founder

What are some of the main misconceptions about female founders?

Sometimes, I think female founders themselves are to blame. Maybe that’s not a common misconception, but that’s us shooting ourselves in the foot.

We want to do all things all at once. Sometimes, we struggle with perfectionism. We struggle with putting ourselves out there.

For a lot of women and female founders, particularly, it can be very difficult to realize that you can grow a business and be successful and you don’t have to do it all. You can get help, bring people on, get a team member, etc.

What are some of the main challenges facing female business owners and how should they be addressed?   

Again, I would say a lot of the big challenges for women are related to the fact that we struggle to get out of our way.

As I mentioned, we struggle with wanting to do all of the things and wanting things to be perfect. Some of the biggest challenges are related to either not starting or waiting until something is perfect.

Quite honestly, if we’re waiting until something is perfect, we’re waiting too long. Ways to overcome that are just taking small steps, continuing to take action, and moving forward even when it’s scary or not perfect. Those tiny steps over time add up and produce results.

Do you think more government initiatives are needed in Europe to support female founders? 

I just entered European markets a few months ago so I don’t know if I’m the best person to answer that question.

I do think it’s beneficial to have things in place that women and families or any business can lean on. I don’t think that it’s a bad idea to have more help.

How do you see the future of female entrepreneurship in general?

Female entrepreneurship as a whole is just exploding. I think we are going to see more women starting and growing businesses and making more of an impact. It’s a snowball effect which is increasing, and it’s really exciting.

Do you have any special message for female founders?  

I do. If you’re thinking about starting a business, you’ve been on the fence, or this is something that’s kind of been on the back burner for a long time, now is a phenomenal time to start.

It doesn’t have to be this big monumental thing. Oftentimes, we think that we have to have this beautiful website and we can’t start or grow until we have all of the things done. That’s not true, honestly.

It’s just finding a gap in the market, addressing that gap, solving the problem, and showing up consistently.

Putting your solution out there, networking, and building relationships doesn’t have to be super complicated or take you 10 hours a day.

Can you share some tips with us about building a successful business?

When you’re building a business, especially when you’re first starting, it’s important to not get overwhelmed and have this massive to-do-list.

It’s just the matter of taking that imperfect action and continuing to move forward and that’s what’s going to grow your business. You can figure things out and tweak along the way.  

Read more: Startup Lisboa Encouraging Female Entrepreneurship to Aid City’s Green Agenda

Is there any additional comment that you would like to make?

Keep going and fail faster. If you mess up, that’s a sign of growth and progress because you’re learning what not to do next time. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Don’t be afraid if it’s scary. We all struggle with that. Just keep going. Take that imperfect action. Keep taking those steps forward and you will see the results.

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