The old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is ingrained in our vernacular for a reason — triumph often follows adversity. Failing isn’t fun in the moment, but it’s a key component of growth. After all, if everyone did everything perfectly on their first attempt, life would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it?
This is a concept that CEOs, founders and business owners across industries are all too familiar with, and many will vouch that their biggest successes have followed failures ranging from minor slip-ups to massive mistakes. This is especially true in the health and wellness world, where increasing competition and a plethora of scrutiny means that success is hard-earned. Look at famous entrepreneurs like Oprah, P.T. Barnum, Richard Branson and other now billionaires. Their net worth might be representative of their company's success, but their business didn't pop up overnight. It was their entrepreneurial spirits that made them the successful people that they are.
But in the world of wellness, being a woman entrepreneur, founder and CEO means something completely different. Though we can learn a lot from every entrepreneur, here's a famous entrepreneur list that highlights women in wellness whose hard work outweighed their start up capital and turned them into media moguls, successful business owners and more. These are the lessons that are crucial to their success.
1. It's okay to ask for help.
Melissa Hartwig is the co-founder and self-proclaimed headmistress of Whole30, a wildly popular program that involves eating whole foods and eliminating sugar, alcohol and all processed foods for 30 days to “reset” your body and improve your digestion, metabolism, immunity and more. Thousands of people have followed the program (look no further than the three million-plus Instagram posts tagged #whole30 for proof), turning it into a wellness sensation and making Hartwig an icon and best-selling author.
But Hartwig will be the first to say that the journey hasn’t been easy. She was going through a divorce from her Whole30 co-founder as the program was rising in popularity, creating an odd juxtaposition of simultaneous success and struggle in different areas of her life. She’s also been vocal about the fact that she battled drug addiction in her past. While she’s been sober for many years, she still draws from the principles she applied to her recovery. One of those principles? The importance of asking for help. As Hartwig recently shared in a brutally honest Instagram post:
“Early in my recovery from drug addiction, I created a life-saving principle that I still apply to this day: When you're feeling strong, tell on yourself. Don't wait until you're already in trouble, hit the bottom, in the middle of the storm, because by then, it's too late. I used this when I was feeling tempted to use, or knew that I'd soon be in a situation in which I may feel tempted. In the calm before the storm, while still feeling strong and brave, I'd grab someone who loved me and I'd tell on myself. ‘I might get weak. No matter what I say to you, no matter how much I try to convince you, it's not okay that I use. Don't give me anything. Don't let me leave with anyone. Hold firm if I get mad at you. I cannot use.’
Today, I apply the same concept to major struggles or personal growth endeavors that still feel too painful to say out loud. While I'm standing here strong and bright in the sunshine, knowing a storm is approaching and the darkness will soon creep in, I stand up straight and speak loudly and clearly. ‘I've been feeling this way. This is hella uncomfortable for me. I've been denying this. I need to address it.’
I tell on myself, because dragging it out of the box and into the light is the very first step. I tell on myself, because I know when the storm rolls in, I'm going to want to pretend it doesn't exist, and that's not a healthy place for me. I tell on myself, because in this moment I feel brave, and once it's out there, I can't take it back. And for my own spiritual growth and integrity, I need to not take this back right now.
It's easier to fix the roof before it starts to rain.”
How's that for an impactful entrepreneur quote? Though this technique might not earn you a billion dollars by itself, the ability to ask for help — whether it’s with a personal issue that’s permeating your professional life or a business challenge you’re staring down — is one of the most crucial skills an entrepreneur can possess. No one has it all figured out, so leaning on people for support is not only completely normal, but an expected aspect of business. Even the most successful, richest person has a group of people they can rely on. No matter if they are a part of your business, a friend from high school or your co-founder, having a trusted counsel of individuals will lead you to success.
2. Don't take no for an answer.
Tyler Haney is the founder of Outdoor Voices, an activewear line that emphasizes the importance of movement, activity and connecting with nature through its motto and hashtag — #doingthings. Her story shows us that entrepreneurship is about perseverance just as much as it's about business know-how. (Oprah would be proud!)
An athlete all her life, Haney had an epiphany while out for a casual jog: there really wasn’t quality workout clothing made for a variety of recreational activities (read: approachable) versus speed and performance (a.k.a. intimidating) so she decided to make it herself. But, as a young woman planning to compete against industry behemoths like Lululemon and Nike, Haney found that investors didn’t take her seriously. Yet, she never lost sight of her goal — and learned the importance of not taking no for an answer.
As Haney shared on the mindbodygreen podcast:
“Since day one, it’s always been about building the next great activewear brand. And people would laugh the first few... actually, the first 70 times I went and pitched. Investors would be like, ‘Yeah right, you’re never going to go up against Nike or Under Armour.’ It’s funny to think that each time I heard that I would continue to go back and be like, ‘Yes, we are.'
“I remember being told ‘no’ at least 70 times. And I would take that no, go back, work on my pitch deck and then laser-focus on turning those no's into yes.
“When I give advice to people about how to start getting traction behind their ideas, it’s all about persistence. The idea could be great, it could be horrible, but it’s all about the person who you’re asking to invest believing that you’re going to, no matter the challenges, see it through.”
Charging forward toward your goals, even when internal and external voices tell you it can’t be done, is one of the most difficult aspects of growth. It requires believing in yourself and never losing sight of your mission. But it also requires putting your ego aside, really listening to feedback and honestly evaluating what can be improved upon. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to persevere until that no becomes a yes. Even after that, you need to continue to put in the hard work to grow your company. After all, success doesn't come cheap.
3. Be true to yourself, no matter what.
Jordan Younger rose to fame in the wellness community as The Blonde Vegan. She seemingly had it all: a thriving multi-faceted business, a burgeoning yoga practice and an impeccable social media presence to boot. She developed a cult-like following, with vegans and non-vegans alike eagerly awaiting her plant-based recipes and lifestyle tips. Her identity as a vegan became synonymous with who she was as a person and an entrepreneur.
Over time, Younger began to realize that the vegan lifestyle no longer suited her the way it once had. Her body began responding to her diet in odd ways, and she craved foods that were completely antithetical to her vegan philosophy. She ignored these cues for a long time for the sake of her brand and at the expense of her health. “Vegan” was literally in her name, so how could she possibly be anything other than plant-based?
Eventually, Younger realized that her brand identity was getting in the way of her true identity — and her happiness. She made the transition away from veganism and became The Balanced Blonde upon realizing the importance of being true to yourself, no matter what.
In a confessional blog post about her decision, Younger wrote:
“It’s time to advocate a lifestyle that doesn’t involve restriction, labeling or putting ourselves into a box. I am extremely passionate about eating ethically and eating whole, plant-based foods from the earth. My original passion for health stemmed from learning about real foods and how they affect our bodies versus chemically-produced and factory farmed disgustingness that is not food.
“It’s a beautiful thing to accept moderation, to accept balance, to allow for happiness and growth and change and fluctuation. Life is an ebb and flow, and our bodies and our mindsets evolve! It is okay to embrace that, and it’s detrimental to our health and our well being not to.
"I have changed, and I ask for your support and acceptance, which I can most assuredly tell you I will give to all of you.”
If your gut is telling you something about your business, company or big idea is off, chances are you should follow it. Everything in your business, from the real estate to the logo, is an extension of yourself. It’s crucial to feel confident in what you’re making, offering or selling — for both your bottom line and your happiness.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Stumbles and massive falls are expected along the way. But remembering these key principles from leaders in the wellness world will make the journey a little less rocky.
Kaitlin Bitting is a vice president of public relations at Allen & Gerritsen and a certified health & wellness coach. She's passionate about helping people find the motivation to create lasting, positive change in their lives, whether personal or professional. Learn more at kaitlinbitting.com.