Note: This article is part of a series. Check out the full series: Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13.

Launching a new business is not easy, never mind bringing to market an entirely new product or service.

In this series of articles, we gathered 100+ successful female entrepreneurs to share their stories and tips on building a business from scratch.

Gabriela Mekler

Co-founder at mumi

Q: What inspired you to found mumi and what were the main challenges you faced?

Our inspiration came from our own experiences as mothers. Always seeking ways to be more efficient, staying on top of our baby’s needs as well as ours while maintaining everything organized. We are drawn to products that are well designed and have great quality, so we wanted to create a line that offered all those elements. Our biggest challenge has always been balancing our family life, social life and work.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Maribel Moreno (mumi co founder) and I started this adventure completely on our own. We put together our own savings to start the company, and everyone around us thought we were playing and had little to no support…

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

We started the business with no experience and the only thing we knew was that we could NOT spend any unnecessary money. For the first almost three years we ran the business from our homes. When we sold 5, we then purchased 10. When we sold 10 we reinvested all the money and purchased 20… And that’s pretty much how we grew.

Monica Eaton-Cardone

Founder, COO - Chargebacks911

Monica Eaton-Cardone

Q: What inspired you to found Chargebacks911 and what were the main challenges you faced?

I was first inspired to start Chargebacks911 when I was still an eCommerce merchant selling luxury goods and cosmetics. At the time, I was experiencing tons of credit card chargebacks without any idea of where they were coming from or how to stop them.

Since there was no established procedure at the time for preventing and fighting chargebacks, I set out to find a solution on my own. I met with risk managers, studied credit card company regulations, and began calling customers that had filed chargebacks to figure out the reason why.

I ended up with over a 100 rules and developed the technology that would predict how many chargebacks we could expect and evaluate their risk levels. Afterwards, I began getting calls from other merchants who were dealing with the same chargeback issue and asking for help. I knew then that I wanted to help merchants avoid the hardships that I had experienced, and Chargebacks911 was formed.

I think the main challenge was that I had to start from scratch. There were really no established rules or regulations teaching you how to deal with the concept of chargebacks, which forced me to become a self-taught expert in the payments industry.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes. Chargebacks911 started as a side hustle for me; it was a consultancy that I initially planned to operate in addition to my core eCommerce business. When I realized the scale of the chargeback problem facing merchants, though, I knew that this would grow beyond a few simple consulting gigs. My husband, Gary, joined in as my Co-Founder, and we started building out the core operations of Chargebacks911 in 2012.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

We focus on providing services in a few different ways. We have our core business, Chargebacks911, which provides full-service chargeback management aimed at merchants. However, we also have Fi911, a separate brand that caters to financial institutions, so we're really working to manage this issue from both sides of the transaction. Our aim is to first identify chargebacks based on their source, then deploy solutions to prevent them wherever possible. In cases of so-called "friendly fraud," though, we help merchants recover revenue through the representment process.

For growing our revenue, our reputation is our biggest asset. We were the first company to provide the kinds of services we provide, and we offer guaranteed return on investment. We're also constantly looking to innovate and find new ways to help merchants protect their bottom lines.

Chelsea Baldwin

Founder - Business Bitch

Chelsea Baldwin

Q: What inspired you to found Business Bitch and what were the main challenges you faced?

Before I started Business Bitch, I'd already been self-employed for a decade and started & grown a copywriting agency.

Because copywriting is so intertwined with marketing, I ended up doing a lot of marketing consulting for my clients to help them get their best results possible. As a smart business owner, then, I talked about the successes I'd gotten for my clients, and I started receiving all kinds of coaching requests:

Some wanted me to coach them on their business marketing and growth, and others were freelancers who wanted to know how I was able to land such cool clients.

I actually started offering this coaching through the brand of my copywriting agency, and even had a monthly membership where I taught copywriting + business strategies to members.

However, when I was going through a re-launch of that membership, I realized something was off. The launch didn't do as well as I'd anticipated (and as a high-end copywriter & marketer, this was UNHEARD OF for my work, especially when I'd regularly get 2x to 3.5x expected income on a launch for my clients), so I decided to look into what was going on.

I figured out that my offerings had become too jumbled and confusing, so I needed to separate the coaching out and give those offerings under a different business umbrella. I decided to take a month off from business, doing only the things I needed to do to maintain it, so I could clear my head and figure out the best path forward.

Then, one evening I was in the shower, and the name "Business Bitch" hit me. I started realizing all the cool things I could do with that brand and company name, and even some cool offers I could create. I immediately got out of the shower to do some preliminary research on that name, and it looked like it might be available. I found a lawyer as soon as I could, and to my surprise, everything was legally available to use, even the URL

I worked like crazy to bring the idea to life, and less than a month later was up & running with my first basic offers.

The two main challenges I faced were:

1) Knowing exactly what to offer.

  • I started with two basic offers: a six-week custom coaching package, and done-for-you tech work, since that stuff is easy for me, but it holds a lot of new, would-be entrepreneurs back. (Think getting things on your website set up properly, setting up an email list, automating marketing, etc.) That worked well for a while, and after I was in business for a year and had a larger audience, I spent a lot of time going through a massive poll & even offering some free coaching slots just so I could talk to as many people as possible to ultimately figure out what would best serve them. Today, I have three main coaching pathways (freelancing, consulting, & digital products for passive income), a freebie offer for each one, a paid digital training for each one, and very detailed pathways to success to lead my 1:1 coaching clients through.

2) Reaching out at a scale larger than I ever had before.  

  • As a freelance writer turned copywriting agency owner, I was used to not having to have a ton of clients at once. To pay myself a nice salary, I'd only need 2-3 clients per month. To have a "busy" agency with writers who'd done my trainings & wrote up to my standards, I'd at most need triple that. With the Business Bitch business model, especially with the fact that I focus heavily on offering things at a super affordable price, I needed a lot more clients and customers at once than I did in my other business before. It wasn't a hard thing to do, but it did take some time to ramp up and figure out.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yep, just me, myself, and I!

Thankfully I'd gone through the process of starting a business before and helping other clients start and grow, so I knew exactly what to do.

I went from idea to full-fledged business with website & operating payment systems in less than a month.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

My business model has two main streams of revenue: customized 1:1 coaching, and selling digital trainings that people can purchase and use at their own leisure and on their own time. The 1:1 coaching offers directly take up my time, but the digital trainings can be marketed and sold at scale.

I've grown my revenue over time by implementing the free & paid digital training offers for each coaching pathway, and leading new subscribers through the trainings that are relevant to them before I start presenting my 1:1 coaching offers.

Of course, the 1:1 offers are available directly on my website so people can skip the freebies and work with me immediately if they want to, but I've found that easing people in this way is a win-win situation: it gives them more success upfront without having to be nervous about investing in a new business coach and being unsure of the results they'll get, and for me it ramps up my passive income and also generates more qualified leads for my 1:1 services than if I only tried to sell the 1:1 services without offering some free or paid value via the digital products beforehand.

Maria M. Barlow


Maria M. Barlow

Q: What inspired you to found your firm and what were the main challenges you faced?

I started my own firm because I didn’t like the culture of the firms I toured and interviewed with. I never found a place where I felt like I could fit in and be of benefit to clients in need of services. One of the main challenges I faced was being able to find other attorneys to contract with and actually practicing law and doing the business of running the law firm. We now own the building our office is in.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes and no. I did contract work with other attorneys who had over flow of work. It was how I learned and made money. Once I saved enough money I rented office space and started taking on my own clients.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

My firm is a community based firm. I specifically placed my business in the area that I grew up in and live in. Much of my business is word of mouth. Many people in the community already know me or my family so they come to me. When my clients are satisfied they spread the word. I always make sure we do the best possible job for our clients.

Sabriya Dobbins

Founder - Project Passport

Sabriya Dobbins

Q: What inspired you to found Project Passport and what were the main challenges you faced?

I founded Project Passport mainly out of the struggles in my own mental health journey. I had really bad panic attacks and anxiety all throughout my college career and they really hurt my quality of life. My highs were scary high and my lows were extremely low to the point of not caring if I lived or died some days. My mental wellbeing really put a huge strain on my happiness and my relationships. The crazy thing is, I was highly successful throughout college with a 4.0 and always received great internship and career experiences. I would ask myself: "Why can't I just be happy? I have everything that people would want, right?" Even when I graduated college, I was experiencing financial success but my struggles in mental health continued to follow me. At one point, everything came to a head and I knew that I was literally killing my body with stress as I kept finding myself in one doctor's appointment after another. After counseling and quitting my career path altogether, I decided that I needed to help others find a sacred and experiential space for mental wellness as I knew I could not be the only one. I originally designed the company to consist of travel retreats where people would be able to face their problems head-on through unique experiences. I realized that I was the only one who could be responsible for my life journey and what I want my future to look like. I realized through launching Project Passport that my joy could not be found in money or good grades, but that it was found in helping others thrive and rise above the pain to produce hope like I did.

One main challenge was getting over myself. Believe it or not, I felt severely unqualified to run a company that helps people's mental wellbeing. I would deal with that voice in my head saying, "Sabriya what do you know? Who do you think you are?" However, I continued to focus on the impact and starting small. Every person who found a blog I wrote to be helpful or appreciated an honest, personal story post I wrote gave me momentum to keep pushing!

The major challenge I faced when first launching was first, getting people to trust Project Passport to take them around the world. No one knew who we were therefore, how could we build that trust? I decided to really lean on my personal experiences and to be as authentic as possible on our social medias. I did not want our company to feel like some fancy Instagram travel experience. I wanted it to feel like it was coming from a real person who had real tough experiences that people could truly relate to. We had to be consistent each week putting out content of value and really building our brand recognition. We worked hard to take part in community events and to be a positive presence to people. While it took us several months to reach our first raw traction, we were able to book up our first retreat to Kenya!

However that leads me to our second major challenge: We got hit by a pandemic! The pandemic literally cancelled everything we had scheduled in 2020 in fact. It was devastating to be frankly honest. After almost slipping back into my dark place and taking a crucial 2 week hiatus, we came back even stronger by launching hands-on virtual retreat experiences featuring activities we would have done on the in-person retreats. This has been a hit and we are so grateful things worked out the way they did.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I did start this venture alone but I "accidently" brought on my first team member pretty early on in the journey. I remember going to speak at a panel at my alma mater, NC State University, and a girl walked up to me at the end and she was excited to get involved with my company. I was baffled because I was still new in Project Passport and I was not even sure how she could work with us! After meeting her for lunch a few days later, I knew she had to be a core part of our baseline startup team! I literally had no plan for her and had no idea how to even hire people. Yet, I figured it out and though I was not sure how it would all look, I am so glad I did. Project Passport would not be what it is today without her support and role in the work we do. She has been with me ever since and it was one of the best decisions I could have ever made by hiring her. Team members we have brought on have come and gone but she has been the most consistent of all my hires. Being a solo founder can be really lonely but when you surround yourself with a committed team, it makes all of the difference.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Project Passport's business model is fully online currently and is focused on two major services, our company virtual retreats and our women's retreat membership program. While the company retreats are currently in full force, they have been quite successful with packages selling on average at $1,500+ per team retreat. What makes our retreats so unique is that they are blitz-style in nature allowing team members to take part in various, experimental mental wellness activities each hour. Employees are not talked at with some boring presentation for hours on end as they are the ones who really lead their retreat journey! Our women's membership program is launching soon and it will serve as a consistent income for the company over time. We have grown our revenue 100% or more with our company retreats because they require little overhead and they are much easier to organize and we can host them more rapidly compared to travel retreats. Our travel retreats had much more organization and overhead required whereas we would take home a smaller profit. With the virtual retreats, we can focus revenue into directly reinvesting into company marketing and operations which in turn, allows us to reach more clients.

In addition, we occasionally host free virtual community mental wellness events or ticketed events with even more dynamic content. We are a social entrepreneurship endeavor, therefore we always make room to give back to the community with our time and wellness experiences. We have served over 250+ people virtually in the last 6 months or so and we are beyond grateful for the opportunity to change lives.

Madison Catania

Founder - Wildcast

Madison Catania

Q: What inspired you to found Wildcast and what were the main challenges you faced?

I was inspired to co-found Wildcast after spending a couple of years in the podcast production space and feeling as though there was still much to do to streamline the podcast industry, particularly in guest and podcast connection. A significant part of my time leading production for about 10 top-charting podcasts at any given time included booking guests for our podcasts and booking our podcast hosts on other podcasts. The platforms out there - the few there were - were not built to accomplish what I needed, so I ultimately decided, why not build our own? While the idea and basic features for the platform came naturally, the biggest challenges included finding the right development team to accomplish our goals as well as acquiring users to join the platform, which is our number one goal and challenge now as we've just launched.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I co-founded Wildcast along with my business partner, Scott, who has spent his career in the tech space. Outside of Scott and myself, Wildcast consists of the development team who continuously works on the platform and a newly hired marketing team to lead our user acquisition efforts.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

At the moment, our platform is entirely free to join. We launched about a month ago and plan to introduce a freemium model with paid features in a few months from now. We also plan to introduce advertising space on the website for sponsors who could benefit from advertising to podcasters, podcast guests, or both!

Charie Williams

Founder - Uncommon Redesigns

Charie Williams

Q: What inspired you to found Uncommon Redesigns and what were the main challenges you faced?

In 2016 I was pregnant and working on my baby's nursery. Like so many in that position, I looked to Pinterest for visual inspiration. I pinned so many pictures of gender neutral nurseries. When it was revealed how much all my favorite pieces of furniture and decor items would cost me, I was bummed. I simply could not afford it. I settled for hand me down furniture and decided I would try to make it work with my vision, and it did. I stripped, sanded, primed, painted, and sealed a crib and converted an old armoire to store my babies clothes and necessities. I shared photos of the nursery and people started asking for me to do furniture for them. A week later I stayed up until 5 AM creating my business model, building my website, and designing my logo. My main challenge was time. I was not only a wife and pregnant mother to a teenager, but also had a full time job. There were a lot of cancelled and denied leisure events, so I could work on my business. There were also some late nights which resulted in me being totally exhausted for my day job which started the feeling of a burn out. I corrected this by creating and sticking to a work schedule, asking for help when I needed it, and setting SMART goals that would lead to me being able to quit my job and be a business owner full time.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

For the most part, but my husband made sure I was a legit registered business. He would email me links and applications that I needed to be licensed and to trademark my business name. He would also help me pick up and deliver furniture. If I didn't have his help I would have asked family or friends to help me out.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

I redesign/customize my customer's existing furniture to their liking. I also scout out low cost, but high quality used furniture that I redesign to meet my customer's decor needs. During the pandemic I have designed a new studio that I not only redesign furniture out of, but I now host creative workingshops at. Adding this new line of service has helped grow my revenue by opening my target audience.

Danielle Reid

Founder - DR and Associates

Danielle Reid

Q: What inspired you to found DR & Associates and what were the main challenges you faced?

The inspiration for DR & Associates actually came from the frustration I faced on a daily basis with my past employers.  With my experience and knowledge, many agency leaders were afraid to hire me because I was considered a threat; which showed their ignorance in the potential and knowledge I could have brought to their agencies.  In the corporate marketing workplace, I felt out of place in various situations and wasn't using my full ability because I wasn't able to use the creativity for success that I had grown accustomed to.  I was working alongside and collaborating with others that had less experience than myself, including agency supervisors and owners, yet my superiors wouldn't give me the tools I needed to successfully perform my job; looking back, they set me up for failure simply because I was a threat with my resume to theirs which often lacked marketing leadership experience.  I decided it was time to take control of my own destiny and put my skills to use on my own terms with an agency that was honest, yet provided the highest level of service to customers.

The main challenges that I faced in the beginning was not valuing myself or knowing the type of customers that I desired to work with.  I found myself working 5 times as hard and not being compensated for the work I was completing.  Like many entrepreneurs that first began, I felt the need to compete with other service providers  that had low prices (and often less experience) because I wasn't looking for my customers in the right spaces.  I also had to distinguish the type of reputation that I wanted for myself in the industry and the type of other entrepreneurs and business leaders that I wanted to be connected to.  

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes, I started the venture alone, however I have a great support team of family, friends, and associates that keep me encouraged; many of which are business owners and leaders.  

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

The business model of DR & Associates as a marketing and advertising service provider utilizes a hybrid of the agency-based and consulting business models.  We offer consultation services to firms that may not necessarily be looking to retain the services of an outside provider, but need help with a marketing strategy for a particular project.  We also have clients that utilize DR & Associates to perform most (if not all) of their marketing functions for them ranging from email marketing to social media management.

Revenue has grown by showing the value that DR & Associates offers while driving profitability and brand reach for businesses.  Being a firm that is able to service clients remotely and successfully, we don't limit our potential clients to North America and are able to offer our services globally.  Hiring DR & Associates is a feasible opportunity for many firms and organizations, as we save these companies thousands of dollars that they would spend on salaries and benefits from having an internal marketing team.  Over the time in this journey, we have learned to grow revenue by not wasting time on leads that are not serious about their marketing and growing profitability.  

Deana B Mitchell

Founder & Executive Director - Realize Foundation

Deana B Mitchell

Q: What inspired you to found Realize Foundation and what were the main challenges you faced?

Although I have started other for-profit businesses, the Realize Foundation was a personal passion project, and it is a 501c3 non-profit organization.

Back in 1997, I survived a suicide attempt and then locked it all away somewhere in my brain. It was not until 2018 I revisited the thoughts and feelings while working on a book. I was writing a timeline of my life and skipped over that year because I was not ready to face it. That only made me think about it more… Then in August of 2019 I lost a friend to suicide who I had known for 20 years. I wondered if I had ever been open about my experience if it would have saved that life and if it would save others? I decided that it could and knew I had to do something about it. I started facing my own fears which included remembering and processing why I went through that experience and how it could have been avoided. During that time, I realized that suicide prevention was my purpose here on earth and decided that all of it happened to equip me with the tools I needed to help others. In January 2020, on my 50th birthday, I had the words “Thankful for the Scars” tattooed on my forearm. This was to remind me of what I had lived through but more importantly to remember the commitment I was making to help others avoid the same plight.

At the time, I was busy with my for-profit business and was traveling a ton. All the while thinking about my new mission and what to do about it. Then COVID happened and I lost all my revenue for the rest of the year. So, I dove into starting the legal entity and researching everything related to mental health and suicide prevention. I built the website, set up all the social media platforms and started telling everyone I knew. Then on September 3, 2020 I wrote a blog about why I started the Realize Foundation and the feedback was amazing. I knew that I was on the right track.  

Q:  Did you start the venture alone?

Yes, very alone from my quarantined home and putting out some very personal stuff online and hoping that it would reach people that needed to hear what I was saying.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

The Realize Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that relies on public funding and private donors and sponsors. Our mission is to create awareness and education in a different way than most are approaching the subject. Suicide rates have been rising for decades and this year will most definitely be the worst. On October 10th, 2020 (World Mental Health Day) we launched our #SaveALifeChallenge which is aimed to the world population to #HaveTheConversation. If we TALK about it more, we WILL save lives.

In addition, we are planning content in the form of panel discussions targeted to different audiences (parents, first responders, veterans, lived experience and more) and podcasts with personal stories of hope. All of this will be virtual and open to anyone. The schedule will run between November and May. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we will be hosting a virtual summit. Currently taking sponsors and donors to support all of these plans.

Jessica Randhawa

Founder - The Forked Spoon

Jessica Randhawa

Q: What inspired you to found The Forked Spoon and what were the main challenges you faced?

I first started food blogging back in 2011. A recent graduate from the University of California Santa Cruz with a Bachelors of Science in Molecular, Celluar, Developmental Biology, I was working at Stanford University School of Medicine when my boyfriend (now husband) and I decided to pack our things into boxes, say goodbye to our jobs and backpack through Nepal and South East Asia for six months. It was throughout that journey that I fell in love with the blogging community, traveling, and cooking (plus eating) new foods and flavors.

While traveling through Asia and expanding my taste pallet, I learned some of my favorite recipes by taking professional culinary classes at various cooking schools with some fantastic chefs along the way(my favorite was in Krabi Thailand).

Since returning from Asia, I started (and said farewell) to two separate websites – Lost & Found and Coffee & Crayons. I also lived, worked, and traveled through Europe while working as an Au Pair in Germany, had a baby, got married, learned how to use a camera, and survived a stroke.

I now spend my days in El Dorado Hills, California, developing recipes, taking photos, and washing dishes, all while trying to keep up with my very active offspring as I convince my husband it’s time for our next overseas adventure. Summed up- Mom-to-one wild and beautiful boy, I am a perpetual travel planner, dreamer, adventure seeker, all-you-can-eat buffet food lover, and (self-diagnosed), food hoarder. I enjoy running for fun, drinking coffee and wine (sometimes at the same time), and eating cookies by the dozen.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

My husband and I work together as a team.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

I currently drive revenue to the site through referral links (mostly to Amazon), sponsored posts, and ads. Many successful small businesses, including my own, grow organically from a side business, project, or hobby. Building up a startup business can be done gradually in steps, allowing for a smoother transition while revenue is accelerating from that first dollar. More so, moving more conservatively provides for a safety net should the initial stages of the new venture not progress as planned.

Note: This article is part of a series. Check out the full series: Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13. Stay tuned for more articles!