It’s Female Founder Friday, and I am delighted to introduce you to serial woman entrepreneur, Frederique Irwin. Frederique is the founder of Her Corner, a digital and in-person education company committed to helping women grow their businesses. Her Corner’s flagship program, the Accelerator, is currently offered in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD and Missoula, MT. Participants see an average of 46% growth in their business within 1 year of completing the program. I can attest that many of my friends have come out of Her Corner programs much more focused, confident, and successful founders. That’s not surprising, as Frederique is one of the most astute businesswomen I know, she speaks five languages, and is also a professor of entrepreneurship, business management and organizational behavior at the Kogod School of Business at American University. If you can’t attend her classes, you can always learn from Frederique’s fantastic blog for women entrepreneurs. I am one of her avid readers!
So, if you’re a woman interested in growing your business or want to know the three life hacks of a four-time serial entrepreneur, don’t miss her thoughtful answers to my questions below.
What inspired you to create your company?
I’ve always been inspired to build my own company; in fact, Her Corner is my fourth business. However, I was specifically inspired to build Her Corner because as a business owner I was desperately wanting to find and connect and collaborate with the other motivated, ambitious and driven women who (like me,) were trying to scale businesses while also doing all the other things women do. Everything I was finding was too networking-ish, too girly, too “light” – I wanted a place where we could talk business and check all the kid / house / vacation / spouse / etc conversations at the door.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
The biggest obstacle was in learning how to scale Her Corner. I tried a few different variations but it wasn’t until I brought on my business partner, Kimberly Berger, that together we really were able to put our heads together and come up with a way to expand and scale the model. My biggest failure? Letting too much time pass before I broke off my first prospective business partnership – I knew it wasn’t the right fit, and I should have said something about it sooner.
In 2017 we were able to prove that we could bring Her Corner to a new city where no one had ever heard about us – Philadelphia.
And so far this year (2 days into the new year,) we’re now expanding into Baltimore, MD as well as Missoula, MT. And we may have plans to expand to many other cities via a licensing agreement with another company.
So for us, “next” puts us a little closer to our vision that if you’re a woman business owner, anywhere in the world, you should be able to join Her Corner to help you scale your business.
What is a life or business hack that you recommend to help other female founders?
1. You always have to ask yourself whether something is a priority and whether it will bring in money.
2. As women we tend to do what others have asked us to do at the expense of what’s best for us, or for our companies.
3. Every morning I start my day by asking myself what is the priority for the business that day?
If you had a theme song what would it be?
I have always loved “Walking on Sunshine,” by Katrina & the The Waves- it is such an upbeat and happy song. I don’t really have bad days; I may get a little grumpy about something, but I’m generally a very happy person and kind of feel like I live my life walking on sunshine.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Go into a business that you genuinely care about; not one that you may just know how to do or that is timely to do life in that moment. I have seen so many women start businesses because it was something they were interested in when their kids were little (for example,) but then their kids grow up, and they outgrow their business. You want something that can grow with you, over time.