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DC Entrepreneurs: We Rise By Lifting Others

Being an entrepreneur is tough, especially when you started your business from nothing. There are plenty of make money no money business plans out there but not a lot of people are willing to make the sacrifices that are needed to really grow their empire. This usually means that entrepreneurs have a tougher side because they don’t want to be taken advantage of by others in their industry. In order to build a successful business empire, most entrepreneurs have to start from scratch, build a team of talented personnel, set high milestones, choose the right business equity (refer to this blog from Early Growth), and effectively manage the capital strategy. And, all of these tasks need to be overlooked by the entrepreneur itself. That said, just because entrepreneurs need to be tough, it doesn’t mean they need to be rude or mean. All the attributes entrepreneurs really need are to be driven, focused, and have a hell of a lot of perseverance. They need to be knowledgeable about their industry and be able to push themselves forward no matter what it takes. There are a host of online resources and tools to help out aspiring entrepreneurs, including advice and tips from successful business people who were once in their shoes – Stephen Canton, for example, an icon in the business world. As long as these people know what is available in the way of this support, they will be able to make it. However, once again, it’s tough! Thick skin is necessary to progress, but there are ways to be strong and resilient as well as just, professional and kind.

I have been quoted on several occasions as saying, “There are no mean girls of entrepreneurship in DC.” What I meant was, though we may seem intimidating, every woman I have ever encountered in the DC startup community has been kind. If help is asked for, it is given. We use our networks to make beneficial connections to see other women succeed. Groups like BEACON, Springboard Enterprises, and Vinetta Project are pillars to a community that welcomes new women entrepreneurs and helps them grow.

After reading a post by Glenn Hellman about two people I admire, I am very glad that I specifically said there were “no mean girls.” Apparently there are mean boys, and bullies, within the male ranks of the startup community. I have always respected Glenn, and the fact that he self-labels as Mr. Cranky is entertaining. His right to express his opinion is an important part of the freedom of speech.

No mean girls of DC entrepreneurs

I don’t enjoy conflict. I would rather direct my energy into building and growing. However, when people remain silent in the face of cruelty, bullies gain power. Our ecosystem is too important to allow bullies free rein. As very few people are standing up for a great man, I will. I am not afraid of the nasty things Glenn can write about me. I’m not that important. The big picture is.

Jonathon Perrelli is one of the kindest humans I know. When I decided to write a book for women entrepreneurs, he was the first outside opinion I asked for. Although at the start I was determined to do as much as this book on my own as I could and even looked into buying a book binding machine if I couldn’t find a publisher, I soon leant I need some outside advice and Jonathon was my first thought. Why? Because he is known for being a big supporter of female founders. He encouraged me to write my book, and introduced me to some amazing women to interview. I am unsure where my project would have gone without Jonathon’s early support.

I appreciate people who put their time and money where their mouth is. Jonathon sits on the advisory board of the DC Vinetta Project. Amelia Friedman, the co-director DC of Vinetta Project DC said the following about Jonathon and his involvement:

“As a founder that JP has invested in, and as the co-director of Vinetta in DC (an organization that Jonathon has donated countless hours to), I can say that Jonathon is a tireless advocate for the founders that he invests in, and incredibly generous with his time, advice, and connections to many more founders (regardless of his equity stake). He’s out there with us in the hustle, and he is always trying his hardest to add value. Some deals might not work out, and that’s life. But he’s always working to do better and add more.”

We rise by lifting others, so I am curious what the value of purposefully smearing a community member is? There are so many hard things to handle as an entrepreneur. Everyone of us has made mistakes and failed. It’s part of the process. To live in fear of making a mistake because bullies are watching and waiting for the opportunity to flay us while we’re down… that’s a mindset that cripples innovation and discourages new entrepreneurs. A community driven by fear is dangerous.

I love being an entrepreneur. I love being part of the DC entrepreneur community. I am proud of who we are, the companies we are building, and the future we are shaping. New entrepreneurs want to be a part of that positive, vibrant ecosystem, and I would like to preserve it for them.

we rise by lifting others