Women Without Borders: Breaking into Business

Photos by Alex Kramer

Life as an entrepreneur can be difficult. And often there are even more barriers facing women breaking into business, making it harder to enter the realm of entrepreneurialism. According to a report by Senator Jeanne Shaheen of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, only 39 percent of businesses are women-owned. And while that number is on the rise, it can still be challenging to achieve success. Regardless of the additional hurdles, women account for the launch of more than 1,200 new businesses every day, according to the organization Business Women.

Christina Moffatt of Des Moines, Iowa, is no stranger to entrepreneurship. With a background in marketing and management, she left her successful, director-level position at an architectural firm to pursue her passion for baking. After finding success in selling her product to friends and family, Moffatt took the plunge into the unknown by quitting her corporate job and opening her own business, a bakery-cocktail lounge combination called Crème Cupcake + Dessert.

However, finding success as a business owner was no easy task, and Moffatt faced a rocky road in getting her idea off the ground. “Banks we talked to just did not understand the concept. A bar and bakery was just not something they were interested in,” she says.

Her experience as a woman also impacted her business journey in unique ways. “There’s not as many women in business for sure. For me, I didn’t really know any women that owned companies,” Moffatt says. “Being in the restaurant industry specifically, there are just not a lot of female business owners.”

After finding a bank willing to offer her a loan, she still faced challenges securing the financing for her business. Her husband was required to sign off on her loan with her. “It was nothing I could do on my own, which if you’re married, that’s part of the reason,” she says.

Even with the uphill climb, Moffatt is grateful for the success and satisfaction she has found in running her own company. “We’re still in business. We’ve been at this almost eight years now, which is pretty good for business. But the fact that we were told our idea of adding a cocktail lounge to a bakery was dumb and here we are years later is pretty awesome,” she says. “You know, not knowing if this concept would work, and it’s worked I would say is pretty successful.”

Through Moffatt’s own career and experiences, she has gathered advice for young women who are eager to enter the world of entrepreneurship.

Here are her words of wisdom:

On women who are interested in being entrepreneurs:

“Do it. Do it. If you try it and it doesn’t work you can always get another job, but be bold .… A lot of people hold their ideas in, but it’s better to talk about them, and get feedback on them.” 

On fostering your ideas:

“You really have to put it out there, but you have to be receptive to feedback. I’ve also seen entrepreneurs not be open to the feedback, but those are going to be your customers.”

On going for it:

“Don’t let fear hold you back. A lot of people fear the unknown and you’ll never know everything starting a business. You can’t do it all.”

On finding balance:

“There really is no exact what I would say balance. I’ve just learned to use the word flexibility. So, if I need to be somewhere I usually make it happen… But there’s no balance, you just have to put out whatever fire is burning faster and make sure you internally know what your number one priority is and then all the other decisions fall into place.”

On staying motivated:

“You have to have resilience, because owning a business, no matter what industry you’re in, your highs are very high and your lows are very low. So you have to have a little more thick skin and realize it’s just business and not personal.”

On handling it all:

“Women can multitask pretty well, that’s something we have. Running our households, having children, keeping your shop running, being involved in the community allows us to do that. But it’s also very complicated. It’s a lot of plates spinning sometimes, which is a challenge, but you have to just realize you can make it all happen.”

On utilizing a team:

“Use people’s talents on your team. I have the most wonderful team here. I couldn’t do this without them. While you need to keep tabs on your company, especially income and everything like that, go to your team and involve them, bring their ideas to the forefront. Pull the whole team in to have meetings because some of our best ideas and products have come from the team. They’re not from me.”