In order to find out how some of these women have reached success in the business world, we have interviewed a number of female entrepreneurs who have shared their experiences of setting up a new venture.

First we spoke to Michelle Symonds, the Founder and Director of Ditto Digital. Michelle gave us a real insight into how she made her Digital Marketing Consultancy a successful business.

What made you decide to start the business?

I had been working in the city for a large blue-chip organisation for many years so wanted to swap my long commute for something that would give me a better work-life balance but also allow me to be my own boss. Earlier in my career I had worked for a tech start-up so had long dreamt of having my own business. And I finally got to the point in my life where I was prepared to take the risk of going it alone. The internet world was booming and it seemed the perfect time to build on my existing IT/Web skills and develop the new skills that were increasingly in demand. It was around the start of the recession but that didn’t seem to be impacting the online marketplace and I could see that SEO (search engine optimisation) and digital marketing were becoming essential to all businesses.

How did you finance the business?

I had some savings that I could rely on but, as a consultancy business, my company needed very little cash to start up. With my existing IT/web skills I was able to build the company website myself, and with my existing network of contacts (and a little help from PeoplePerHour) I was able to secure my first clients. Also because I work from home, and now employ others who do the same, we don’t have the overheads of renting office space. For anyone thinking of starting up a consultancy or service business with limited funds I would say – if you truly believe in your idea – then go for it! There is far less financial risk than starting a business selling or manufacturing products.

Did you face any financial difficulties and how did you overcome them?

I have been very fortunate not to have faced any serious financial difficulties and that has been helped by the fact that I have such low overheads. But working from home or in an inexpensive business hub is now technically easy with fast broadband so readily available along with cheap video conferencing facilities. So many professional people now work from home that it is almost becoming the norm so – in many ways – this makes it easier for people to start their own business.

What financial advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to start a new venture?

With hindsight the biggest financial mistake I made was under-selling myself by setting an hourly and daily rate without doing proper research into exactly how long tasks would take. I should have more thoroughly researched how long each activity would take and then stuck to that time. Instead I committed to a fixed cost and then had to deliver even if it meant doing many more hours than I was billing for to get the job done. I still believe in a fixed cost for a fixed amount of work because clients know exactly what they are getting, but now the pricing structure we use has the benefit of 6+ years’ experience. So I would always advise new business owners providing a consultancy service (or any other service) to set their prices or fees accurately with as much information as they can find; and regularly review the prices to make sure the business is making a decent profit.

Next was Bethan Vincent, the Director of Vincent’s Coffee. She also taught us how she stepped the ladder to success with her luxurious coffee shop business.

What made you decide to start the business?

I started my first business, Vincent’s Coffee, straight out of university. I had just completed a History and was very unsure about what I wanted to do with my life, especially from a career point of view. I knew that I would find it untenable to follow the path of many of my classmates and grind away in a corporate career. I wanted to do something that was, in some way, “good” and that I could be passionate about. I realised that I could combine two of my deep interests, coffee and equality, into an actual business. So I decided to see where the path of entrepreneurship would take me!

How did you finance the business?

I was lucky enough to have a stable job throughout university and therefore had quite a lot of personal savings behind me (let’s just say it could have been one hell of a gap year fund). I was also very lucky to find a private investor early on, who was able to match my personal investment. As of yet, I haven’t had to take out a loan. However, this is something I would consider in the future as part of a growth strategy.

Did you face any financial difficulties and how did you overcome them?

I think I have had a slightly different experience financially than others, as in the beginning I suffered from not spending enough on the important things, such as a good accountant, etc. It’s obviously useful to tightly manage your cash-flow, however if you try to cut too many corners, you will end up paying more for them in the future. I learnt this the hard way, especially in areas such as marketing and branding, which took a long time and a lot of money to get right. Stick within your budget, but don’t be afraid of spending (seemingly) large amounts when it comes to the core needs of your business.

What financial advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to start a new venture?

Always budget for at least 40-50% more than you think you will need in your preliminary business plans, especially when planning start up capitol. Costs can easily spiral out of control, even if you’re trying to bootstrap. Plus, if you don’t end up spending that cash in the beginning, it will act as an extremely useful physiological and financial buffer if you come into difficulties later.

Another admirable lady who we interviewed was Candice Galek, the CEO and Founder of BikiniLuxe, her swimwear and bikini boutique. She speaks of her trials and tribulations in her road to success in the business world.

What made you decide to start the business?

I have always been passionate about fashion but more particularly bikinis. Growing up in sunny Florida I spent my youth on the beach surfing and playing volleyball and having a gorgeous bikini was an essential part of my wardrobe. I was looking to find a niche business that could combine my passion for bikinis with something that people would find value in. In my search I noticed that many of our local luxury bikini designers here had little to no online presence. I reached out to a few, namely to start Montce Swimwear and Peixoto Swim and offered to promote and sell their products online. As the sales started to roll in I reached out and added more brands and new employees talented in SEO and SEM. This had an exponential effect and the company has taken off beyond my wildest hopes.

How did you finance the business?       

Bootstrapped with savings that I had planned to buy a condo with, I took a chance and put it all down on BikiniLuxe instead!

Did you face any financial difficulties and how did you overcome them?  

Absolutely, I have had multiple offers from investors looking to buy part or all of the business. The most difficult part of running a seasonal business is knowing when to invest and what to invest in, in my case what swimwear brands are going to be hot and succeed. One example of a brand that I really love and has blown up is Frankies Bikinis, a brand that I truly support and think is going to take over the swimwear scene. The designer Francesca Aiello was the youngest designer to ever show at Miami swim week and she is incredibly talented. Her mom Mimi runs the company with a velvet iron fist and is truly someone that I admire. As for overcoming financial difficulties, all I can say is that it has boiled down to careful management of finances a great bookkeeper and accountant and amazing custom prediction software that not only helps us spot the trends but keep what is hot and selling in stock!

What financial advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to start a new venture?

Starting your own business is one of the hardest things to do in this world, a staggering 80 percent of businesses fail and the rate is even higher with online businesses. If you truly want to succeed as an entrepreneur you need to choose something that you are passionate about. When you are passionate about your business then the 16 hour work days fly by and don’t feel like work at all. Another important piece of advice is choose a niche that is not over saturated or one that you have some unique angle on that nobody else has. If you combine these two things you are off to a great start. I can humbly say that starting BikiniLuxe has been one of the hardest yet most rewarding things that I have ever done in my life. To all you entrepreneurs out there, follow your passion, work hard, and learn from your mistakes and you will succeed!

So if you’re a female with an entrepreneurial mindset who seeks to set up the business of your dreams, take a chance and make it happen. Indeed there can be hard times, but when your business is a success, your hard work and dedication truly pays off. If you set up a business on what you’re passionate about, then you’ll always enjoy what you do. Spreading your passion may be a mere desire, but if you really do want to share it with others then you should take the plunge and set up your business. A handful of successful entrepreneurial ladies have shared their experiences and lended us knowledge about how they overcame their business hurdles and stormed their way to success. All business’ face trials and tribulations, but the key to success is staying strong and overcoming these. Take the opportunity, be open to risks and learn from mistakes to push your business to the peak of its success.

Author Bio: Stephen Verber specialises in corporate finance and heads up the forensic accounting department at Alexander & Co. Stephen is also a member of The Academy of Experts.