Stephanie Burns turned layoffs into a thriving business.
When Stephanie was getting her MBA, many of her friends were getting laid off and they all had the same question: how do I start my own business? Stephanie realized that she wasn’t necessarily learning how to start a business in business school. Instead, she was learning how to run one.
So Stephanie thought she’d create a space for people to learn ground level business information for free. Chic CEO was born. With honesty, tenacity and a large dose of believing in herself, Stephanie has grown her business into the thriving network that it is today. In this exclusive interview, Stephanie tells us how to get started building your own business, why she doesn’t believe that following your passion will necessarily make you successful and how she stays inspired.
Describe a typical day in your life.
I think my days are like most startup founders’ days. I get up early, workout and then COFFEE. My day will consist of either client calls (I have private clients who are starting their business or brand) or writing. I write content for the Chic CEO website and for Forbes. I have a treadmill desk, so usually I’m walking while I type!
How did you come up with the idea for Chic CEO?
In 2008 I was in grad school getting my MBA and that was about the time all of my girlfriends were getting laid off – along with the rest of the country. They kept asking how they could start a business and I didn’t have an answer for them. They thought because I was getting my MBA that I would be able to help, but I wasn’t learning how to start a business, I was learning how to run one. So that’s when I decided that all of the ground level business information should be somewhere that my friends could get it – for free.
What’s some advice for women trying to get a business started?
Just get started. Don’t wait until everything is perfect. Just like with anything else big in your life – the timing will never be “perfect.” So just go go go. In 90 days, it’ll all be completely different anyway.
Also, don’t believe the saying “follow your passion and the money will come.” I think that saying has provided a huge disservice to a lot of entrepreneurs. Instead “solve a problem and the money will come.” I am passionate about eating cupcakes, but that doesn’t mean eating them will make me money. If you are passionate about the problem you are solving – you’ve hit the jackpot.
Tell us about an unexpected challenge and how you overcame it.
In 2014, Chic CEO was sued by 3 men claiming we were violating their civil rights because we help women. This was very unexpected and heartbreaking. Not to mention, expensive and time wasting. I ended up settling, but it took a year to do so. The blessing that has come from it is an awareness among other female founders or companies focused on the empowerment of women, that legislation needs to change to prevent this from happening again. We are working hard on this right now.
How do you stay inspired?
I get truly inspired when I see anyone really really believe in themselves. I was just having a conversation with my husband about the Sylvester Stalone story. He was homeless, had to sell his dog and was at rock bottom. He wrote the script for Rocky and had an offer for $100k to sell it. He only wanted one thing – to be the lead actor. They said no over and over again, finally they agreed but would only pay $35k for the script.
I try to think of what I would do if I were homeless and someone offered me $100k and what kind of guts that must take to say no. To absolutely believe in yourself enough to know that you should be a star.
I love his story.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Such a tough question! I’ve never been able to answer this one very well. I hope in 5-10 years, I have a family and I’m investing in really cool companies.
Tell us about your experience using about.me.
I love about.me! I’ve come across really great pages and have met some new people. It’s so easy to use and I’ve recommended it to a lot of new founders who need to get a bio page up and running asap. Beautiful platform.
Anna Lizaur is a Marketing Manager with about.me. She graduated from the University of Virginia. Anna is fluent in Spanish and can count to 100 in Chinese.