Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Jennifer Schwab, Founder and CEO at ENTITY Academy:
What does your company do?
ENTITY seeks to empower, educate and mentor young women in all aspects of their lives. We do this through our robust media platform, social channels (reaching over 15 million women per month/4 million+ engagements per month) and our ENTITY Academy — a six-week, high tough, closely supervised, mentorship program for women aged 17 to 24. It includes a speaker series with top female business and cultural leaders, leadership training, sexual harassment awareness workshop, resilience role-playing, and an entire curriculum based around digital and business skills that will jumpstart the careers of our participants. We believe with the right tools and education, women have infinite potential — and we want to make sure they are empowered to exercise that potential.
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
I am the CEO and founder of ENTITY. Mentoring women isn’t just what my business is about, it’s also my passion. I started ENTITY because I want to help women succeed and believe mentorship is the way to make it happen. I didn’t have female mentors in my 20s and it showed — but I made it out the other side and now it’s time to pay it forward. The part of my business I enjoy most is curating ENTITY Academy. Our goal is to give our girls a once-in-a-lifetime experience, marketable skills, confidence and resilience as they enter the workforce. Over six weeks I get to see young women blossom into confident, poised, business-savvy individuals who then spread the ENTITY message of mentorship back home.
We’re at a tipping point in society. Women are coming into their own, and we’re proud to be a part of it.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
The biggest challenge is HOW to scale mentorship. We have this high-touch, in-person summer program, ENTITY Academy, that literally changes women’s lives, but currently it’s limited to 50 girls, once per year. Our goal is to take that program and make it national. We want women from all walks of life, and all over America, to benefit from this program. Our graduates walk away more confident, more resilient, young women. They spend the summer gaining valuable career skills, learning from female CEOs and entrepreneurs through our speaker series, and experiencing activities they’ve never done before (everything from Krav Maga to the Art of Plating to flying a plane). We plan on scaling the concept so more women can have that chance.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
1. Don’t underestimate the value of “boring” skill building. Skills make you invaluable to a company. Even if you’re not 2000% excited about your job, mastering skills could propel you into a position you are excited about. During my first years out of school at a top accounting firm, I worked insane hours performing boring tasks — spreadsheets and number crunching. In hindsight those years were invaluable because I’ve utilized those skills in every job. Truthfully, I don’t think I’d be running my own company had I not built “boring” skills.
2. Don’t call yourself an expert on something until you are. Mastering skills takes time and discipline. I never called myself a good pilot until I had over 300 hours of flight time, 900 landings, and 700 hours of ground study. Mastering skills are credentials that stay with you forever — no one can take this away from you.