Bold Broads highlights women founders and creative [read: BADASS] small business owners about how they really deal with the ups and downs of running a BOLD business. These women share honest wisdom and tough lessons to support you in collectively making good shit happen in your own women-led startup or small business. Meet Ashley Feinstein Gerstley of Fiscal Femme. Ashley is a money coach and founder of the Fiscal Femme where she demystifies the world of personal finance and money for her clients in a fun and accessible way that empowers them to achieve their financial goals.
Let's meet her, shall we?
1. Starting a business is HARD and sometimes lonely. What the f*ck motivated you to start your own business?
Fiscal Femme happened organically for me so I never went from no business to running my own business - I was able to ease in a bit. I started the Fiscal Femme because I needed it myself and was really passionate about sharing what I discovered along my money journey with others women. I was struggling with my personal finances (even as a finance major, finance professional) and thought, if I don't know about this money stuff, who does?! My goal was to share it in a fun and accessible way and that's where my blog started. People started asking me for help and another site asked me to write for them. It continued to evolve and change as I learned more about what people need and are looking for. It continues to evolve and change but it's really the impact on others that keeps me going. It feels so good and makes me so happy that I am able to push through the difficult parts. I also love that I am able to create and grow something that's mine.
2. How do you stay motivated to keep thriving in a creative space where everyone seems to one-up each other?
When I'm really focused on the purpose of my business or overall mission, the other stuff falls away and really doesn't matter. I stay out of the "one-up" game and if I ever do fall into the comparison trap, I know it's because I'm not doing what I I truly want to be doing. It's a sign that I'm not playing big enough. If we're out playing the big game I was meant to, there's would be no room for it. As far as analysis paralysis, I'm a huge proponent of action, both in my own business and with my clients. If we wait until we feel prepared or know everything, we'll never get started. And often, we can't see the next steps until we are already down the path. Take some first steps. If that first step feels too big, break it down even further and then take action. We learn by doing, not by planning.
3. Successful businesses are often quietly supported by a collective of women mentors, friends and business owners. What communities and resources have been most pivotal to your own business success?
I met a new friend at an event and we discussed the importance of having an entrepreneurial Tribe. Then we decided to create one together. Our Tribe meets once a month over wine and snacks and we help each other strategize, share successes and support each other during struggles. It's been an invaluable resource and I'm sure my husband is so happy that I have other people to share about my business with. I'm also part of some other incredible business communities like Dreamers & Doers, BNI and Ellevate Network as well as mentors and advisors. Separately from my business, I'm blessed to have incredible friends and family to lean on for support. It's definitely something that I cultivate.
4. No bullsh*t; what's the MOST CHALLENGING part of running your business? And equally important; how are you working to overcome this?
The biggest challenge I'm facing right now is is understanding how to take maternity leave as an entrepreneur. I'm working to build the space financially and through the support of a team in order for me to take the time off. Being an entrepreneur can make the timing much more flexible but the downside is that there is no paid leave (at least for how my business is structured) and that it's really on me to set up the policy and how I want it to look. There's incredible freedom and flexibility but that comes with lots of responsibility and planning. I'm working on a guide for other entrepreneurs because it's been an incredible exercise and challenge. I think it's been a great opportunity to dream up what I want to create, figure out how to put it into existence and realize that it's a plan that will adjust and evolve as I have more information and realize what it is I want. Flexible planning is a key learning in entrepreneurship that's difficult for type-A planners like me.
5. Share the most helpful piece of advice you've ever been given.
Always ask. Asking is something my Dad lives and breathes in his every day life. It's definitely a practice and skill that I've continued to work on. Ask for what you're worth, ask for what you want and ask when you need help. Sometimes all it takes is once and sometimes it takes being a lot more persistent. It can feel really uncomfortable but gets easier with practice. Here's an example: when my dad and I were touring colleges together, we heard there was a BB King concert in town on the radio. It was completely sold out. When we pulled up, we saw his tour bus at our hotel. My Dad asked the hotel receptionist who was with BB King and she pointed to someone across the lobby. My Dad went up and asked if there were any extra tickets for us. That man pointed us to BB King's manager so my Dad went up and asked him for tickets. He said they were sold out and my Dad said he understood but that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for him and his daughter so please let him know if there was anything he could do. Later we were sitting at the bar and the manager came up and said there would be a ticket waiting for us at Will Call! When we got there, they were front and center seats with backstage pass to meet BB King. We got to sit on his tour bus and I got to hold his guitar, Lucille. Not only did my Dad ask, but he asked three or four times. It was such an incredible lesson for me to see. I'm continually shocked and impressed how much we can get if we just ask. Sometimes we don't even think to ask for what we want or need but there's really no downside.
I unapologetically own my BOLD Broad badassery because...
Money is a tool for us to have an experience what we want in life. Money is also the #1 stressor of Americans. Women make less than men in the same roles, invest less often, have to pay more for the same things (pink tax) and live longer so we actually need to have more money saved for retirement. We have a lot working against us as women and while hopefully a lot of that will change, we need to be in power of our lives financially to experience power and freedom.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Feinstein Gerstley is a money coach and founder of the Fiscal Femme where she demystifies the world of personal finance and money for her clients in a fun and accessible way that empowers them to achieve their financial goals. Ashley has empowered thousands of people in their financial wellness via her corporate financial wellness programs, one-on-one coaching and online courses including, the 30 Day Money Cleanse. Ashley and her work have been featured on Real Simple, NBC News, Refinery 29, Bustle, Forbes, Yahoo Finance and DailyWorth, among others.