A freelance writer and father of two, I am interested in almost anything the ever-changing city of Brisbane has to offer. When I am not seeking the kid-friendly and affordable, I am tracking the home-grown and the unique... Come and discover with me!
Published September 5th 2014
Attention female entrepreneurs - The League wants you
Just know that you can do this. You can make your business work. If you are experiencing any form of self-doubt or are at the point you are thinking of throwing in the towel, please come along to one of our events before you do this. The only difference between those who are successful and those who are not is perseverance. The successful REFUSE to give up and if you are at a point you are considering this, please invest in a ticket and come and meet other women who have gone through what you may be feeling. If you love and enjoy what you do, don't ever give it up. There is always a way. Chiquita Searle, General Manager, League of Extraordinary Women.
Extraordinary League of Leaders: (left to right) - Liz Atkinson, Marie Cruz-de Vera, Chiquita Searle, Sarah Riegelhuth and Sheryl Thai
Extraordinary (adj.): 1) - beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established 2) - exceptional in character, amount, extent, degree; noteworthy; remarkable
If you are a woman running your own business, or are taking real steps towards this, then you already know how well the above definitions describe you. Turning a passion into a business plan certainly requires going beyond what is usual, regular and established; to turn that plan into pay-day means making the remarkable routine.
Exceptional, remarkable, noteworthy, extraordinary - The League of Extraordinary Women
What you may not yet have realised, however, is that you're also a part of an extraordinary time in Australian history—a time when more women are working for themselves than ever before, and are consequently transforming the Australian economic landscape. In the decade to August 2012, the proportion of "own account" female business owners—sole operators with no employees—grew by an astonishing 24.6% compared with a 1% increase among men (thanks to Women In Focus website for these figures). At this very moment, more exceptional, noteworthy and/or remarkable Australian women than ever before are juggling priorities, jumping through hoops, and pounding on pavements, keyboards, and doors in hot pursuit of their self-started dream.
For those in need of immediate inspiration - League of Extraordinary Women founder Liz Atkinson interviews ultra-marathon runner and National League Crusader Samantha Gash.
You're definitely not alone, then. But facts and figures can only do so much to restore a fragile faith when those extraordinary dreams bring the inevitable extreme doubts. Perhaps you've already asked yourself: where are they all, then? Where are these powerful platoons of straight-talking, high-wire-walking wonder-women when the difficulties of being my own boss overshadow the delights, when bold ideas meet big invoices, when isolation threatens to crush inspiration and my creative juices badly need a jumpstart? Where are all the other go-getters who get what I'm going through?
These are the very questions which drove four young female entrepreneurs to transform what might have been just another random encounter at just another networking event into something truly exceptional: The League of Extraordinary Women. Since its first sold-out event in Melbourne in 2011, the League of Extraordinary Women—known simply to its members as "The League"—has become Australia's largest and fastest-growing movement for young female entrepreneurs.
In the space of only three years, the vision first shared by founders Sarah Riegelhuth, Sheryl Thai, Liz Atkinson and Marie Cruz-de Vera—of a community which focusses on real friendships and relationships among its members, rather than on the hasty swapping of business cards—has taken hold in the hearts and minds of enterprising women throughout Australia, and has even gained a foothold abroad with the recent launch of Chapters in the UK and New York. The first League Conference, Run The World 2013 at RMIT University in Melbourne, attracted more than 250 attendees, and featured ten extraordinary speakers including Kristina Karlsson (kikki.K), Naomi Simson (RedBalloon), and Bollywood Star Tania Zaetta (TZ Blog & Shop).
Watch this video by Goliath Productions for a taste of a typical League Breakfast Event, including some words from Brisbane's Crusader Laura Christie, Creative Director at Soundcom.
All League Breakfasts and Member's Working Lunches feature a high-calibre keynote speaker whose success story is not only guaranteed to inspire you, but whose practical advice will ensure that you can immediately begin to make more of your precious business hours. The stellar line-up scheduled for this year's Run The World Female Entrepreneurs Conference, to be held in Melbourne on October 25, shows the calibre of the women who you can connect with and learn from at any League Event, featuring such home-grown high-flyers as Samantha Wills, Abigail Forsyth of Keepcup, Jodie Fox of Shoes of Prey, Nahji Chu of misschu and Keran Wicks of Network Video.
Run the World Female Entrepreneurs Conference 2013 - set to be even bigger in 2014
Those already enthused for the extraordinary should click here to connect with your local League Crusader. Crusaders are the founts of local League knowledge in your region, and even now are guaranteed to be busy organising a League event near you. As well as being social lightning-cables, all Crusaders are successful female entrepreneurs in their own right; these passionate volunteers stand ready to answer your questions, and to help you make those all-important first steps towards your first extraordinary League encounter.
Whatever your first point of contact with the League, this writer can attest to the responsive and friendly outlook which the League maintains as core values. Read on below for a revealing Q&A with League of Extraordinary Women General Manager, Chiquita Searle; or link with the League online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Vimeo.
Chiquita Searle, General Manager of the League Of Extraordinary Women (and exceptional interviewee!)
Q&A with Chiquita Searle, League of Extraordinary Women General Manager:
WN – Who should consider attending one of the League's extraordinary events?
CS - Female entrepreneurs! Women who have discovered their passion and are in the process of either formulating a plan to or are already successfully monetising it. One of our values is thinking BIG and differently, so anyone who has a dream and is set on making it a reality is who we'd love to see come along!
WN – Do I have to be an entrepreneur or business operator to attend, or can I just come for inspiration and to find out more?
CS - Our community is made up of fully fledged female entrepreneurs who have been in business for more than 3 years but we also have many members who are just starting out and who come along to learn, be inspired and connect with other women who may be experiencing similar challenges in their business.
WN – What do I need to bring, if anything?
CS - A great attitude, an open mind and desire to connect and be inspired!
WN – Are recordings or printed materials available afterwards in case I need to leave early or can't make it unexpectedly?
CS - We are currently aiming to have podcasts of our speakers available in the future in our members portal which is currently in the works by an extremely talented web developer in Brisbane by the name of Laura Christie from Soundcom. Laura also happens to be our Brisbane Crusader who is fostering a brilliant community so we'll be chatting with Laura about how we can make this happen!
WN – What would you say to someone who really thinks this looks good but feels shy about "putting themselves out there"?
CS - I would say that in order to have a successful business you will need to learn to put yourself out there. Overcoming fear of self-promotion needs to happen early on in business for it to be successful as if you're not willing to tell someone else about your business, who will? If your desire for success is stronger than your fear of self-promotion or rejection, then you are in a better place to succeed. The women in our community are incredibly supportive and welcoming and I have no doubt new guests will make many new connections before the breakfast is over.
WN – Is there someone I can talk to, to find out more before the event?
CS - We have Crusaders in every community driving the movement, sharing the vision and hosting League events. In Brisbane, we have an incredibly savvy business woman by the name of Laura Christie whom I would encourage Brisbane based female entrepreneurs to reach out and connect with. Laura's email is email@example.com
WN – What are the benefits of a "women-only" event like this?
CS - Being in one's business can be incredibly isolating, especially if, in the early days, you are a sole trader. Transitioning from a corporate environment, surrounded by people, white noise and having a team to ask questions of and gain direction from to an environment where you are potentially by yourself, not knowing exactly what to do and not having anyone to ask can be incredibly overwhelming and daunting. It's at this point the fear and self-doubt will creep in. Our events are aimed at providing a space for female entrepreneurs who may be experiencing feelings of isolation and who simply want to connect with other women in a similar position on a regular basis to give them someone else to talk to and share their challenges with. Our events also provide inspiration through our speakers who are all very successful and a tangible, real life example of women who have done it tough, overcome challenges and come out the other side as a source of motivation for our guests to keep going in their business, knowing full well that they can make their dreams a reality as well.
WN – What are the overall benefits of becoming a League member?
CS - Being a part of a driven and dynamic community of female entrepreneurs, much like yourself. Finding a constant source of inspiration to help you overcome any fear or self-doubt you may be feeling. Connection and an opportunity to share challenges and gain advice are all the intangible benefits in the form of emotional support offered. The tangible benefits are discounted tickets, exclusive members-only events, access to exclusive offers by partners and sponsors and a soon to be launched members' portal with business resources and templates. We have just announced a national partnership with Elance who will be providing members with $50 vouchers to use on any outsourcing needs they may have as well as with an Australian based telecommunications company, Green Telecom, who are in a positon to save our members an average of 30% off their telecommunications bills. We will also be hosting webinars on a regular basis designed to educate our members on different issues they may be experiencing in their business.
WN – Is there an expectation for me to become a member after attending an event or two?
CS - There is no expectation at this point however we are restructuring our model for 2015 to have a direct focus on our members and the benefits we are providing them. For this reason all events from February 2015 will be members only with the exception of our "Run the World" all-female entrepreneur conference which will be open to everyone.
WN – Why am I better off spending the money on tickets to this rather than, say, a business seminar or online materials?
CS - Women are social creatures. We need connection with other women, particularly other women who are in a similar situation and may be experiencing the same challenges as we are. Finding this kind of support is extremely important within business and I'd encourage every woman to connect with some group where she can feel supported, ask questions, be inspired and connect with other like-minded women whom are going to encourage her and assist her in overcoming any fear and self-doubt she may be experiencing, which for us, is the biggest threat to any business failure. This is why the League exists so if you are feeling this way, please come along as we want you to succeed as do every member of our community, and we are here to help.
WN – Is there anything else you think I should know if I am considering coming along?
CS - Just know that you can do this. You can make your business work. If you are experiencing any form of self-doubt or are at the point you are thinking of throwing in the towel, please come along to one of our events before you do this. The only difference between those who are successful and those who are not is perseverance. The successful REFUSE to give up and if you are at a point you are considering this, please invest in a ticket and come and meet other women who have gone through what you may be feeling. If you love and enjoy what you do, don't ever give it up. There is always a way. We will see you soon!
Excellent article Rob! Thanks for taking the time to interview someone within the League, this kind of information is so useful for young women and it is important for young women with bright ideas to know where to go :) Thanks again!!