The road to success is often lonely.
It can be difficult to keep your life in balance when starting your own brand or business. Working long, odd hours from home, can quickly lead to feelings of isolation without a typical nine-to-five job.
Nina Cataldo, cofounder of the Brave & Bold Mastermind Program, knows from first-hand experience that community and support are paramount for success as a female entrepreneur. We spoke with Cataldo about the difficulties that Asian female entrepreneurs face when getting their businesses off the ground, and the world of difference that a strong community of like-minded women in business can make as you navigate your own entrepreneurial journey.
What does it take for women to succeed as entrepreneurs?
Nina Cataldo: It really starts with finding that confidence in yourself. Being an entrepreneur is, a lot of times, very lonely. You spend all day by yourself. Especially with the pandemic, I spend sometimes weeks without seeing anybody. I’m working on weekends because I don’t know what my boundaries and limits are.
It’s important to find a community of people who understand what you’re going through, knowing that each of you is working hard solo on your business, but knowing that there’s a community around you that is still going through similar steps of creating the mission statement, values, launching a product, or whatever it is that you’re doing. Just being sure people know that they have others that they can lean on. And that through finding that community, people can gain confidence in themselves and know that what they’re doing is what they should be doing.
What inspired you to create Brave & Bold Mastermind?
Cataldo: My friend Kristy Ishii moved back to the states during the pandemic, and that allowed us to start talking to each other more over Zoom. We’re both entrepreneurs and didn’t have nine-to-five schedules or any support system for building our own businesses.
We started having our own weekly Zoom calls to support each other, wherever we needed in terms of building our businesses. It got us to a point where we thought it would be amazing to have this kind of community and support for other women who are going through what we were. That inspired us to start the Brave and Bold Mastermind Program for Asian women entrepreneurs. That led to us creating a three-month container cohort with their first group being three entrepreneurs. Each of them came to us with vague ideas or solid ideas about how they wanted to turn their passion projects into a full-time gig and go forward with it.
By the end of the three months, all three of them had launched their website or their product. It was really exciting to see them and help guide them through understanding what their own values and passions were, and how the business operation side of it goes, as well.
What unique challenges do Asian women face in business?
Cataldo: In Asia, and specifically Japan, it’s a really different market for women, especially with the gender gap index for Japan, and the Japanese see their careers from a different kind of viewpoint, rather than having this work-life balance. So, we thought it was important to support women through that journey. And also, to know whether they’re wanting to start a new career after a ten- or twenty-year gap or think that this idea that they have can turn into a business. I think there isn’t a lot of support around that in Japan yet. So being able to encourage them and empower them through our own experiences of doing that over the last few years and giving them the tools and resources that we had and continue to have, and to give that support, as well.
It’s not just the business side of it, but also helping them grow as individual people to gain more confidence in themselves, to understand that they’re aligning their values with how they want to continue with their careers going forward.