Empowering Women in Business: Strategies for Success - Accion Opportunity Fund
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Empowering Women in Business: Strategies for Success

Learn how to navigate the unique challenges and opportunities faced by women in the business world to elevate your business to new heights.


In the dynamic landscape of entrepreneurship, each journey is as unique as the individual embarking upon it. For women entrepreneurs, this path often comes with its own set of challenges and triumphs. Let’s delve into the insights and experiences of women who have successfully navigated business ownership, offering inspiration and motivation to fellow leaders. Discover key strategies in business management, negotiation, networking, and employee relations, all from a woman’s perspective. Learn how to navigate the unique challenges and opportunities faced by women in the business world. This is not just about empowerment but also about practical tools and techniques to elevate your business to new heights.


Meet the Speakers

Vivian Kaye

Vivian Kaye is the Founder & CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki, a premium textured hair extension brand for Black women that she bootstrapped into a multi-million dollar in revenue business as an immigrant, college dropout, and single mom. She’s also a self proclaimed “pretty dope lady” and we agree!

Melissa Villanueva

Melissa Villanueva is the CEO, Owner, and Founder of Brewpoint Coffee, a multi-million dollar coffee company with four coffee shops, a coffee roastery, and a premiere event space. Melissa’s innovative approach to running a successful small business has been featured on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and many other leading publications.

Seizing Opportunities: From Vision to Reality

Some women come to entrepreneurship on their own, but for others, entrepreneurship comes to them. Vivian Kaye has long had an entrepreneurial mindset. A trailblazer in the industry, she saw a gap in the textured hair extensions product, filled the gap, and turned it into a thriving multi-million dollar business. Meanwhile, entrepreneurship found Melissa Villanueva. She stumbled upon an unexpected opportunity: while browsing Craigslist for an espresso machine, she bought a coffee shop instead. Their stories underscore the importance of seizing opportunities and embracing the unexpected in the entrepreneurial journey.

Embracing Intersectionality: Transforming Challenges into Growth

Intersectionality shapes the experiences of women entrepreneurs, presenting both obstacles and opportunities for growth. By reframing challenges as opportunities and leveraging support networks like AOF, women can transcend barriers and harness their unique identities to drive success. Here are some tips for embracing your full identity as a woman entrepreneur:

  • Turning Lemons into Lemonade: Embracing setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning, transforming challenges into stepping stones toward success.
  • Utilizing Support Networks like AOF: Taking advantage of organizations like AOF to learn more about managing and growing your business. AOF offers free business coaching to small business owners. Learn more about business coaching through AOF here.
  • Embracing Authenticity: Recognizing the power of authenticity and individuality in navigating the entrepreneurial landscape, women entrepreneurs can leverage their unique stories and perspectives to carve their path to success. You don’t need to be “like the guys” you just need to be yourself to reach success.
  • Aligning Profitability with Values: Balancing profitability with values, women entrepreneurs can support diversity and inclusivity within their businesses and communities, fostering an environment conducive to growth and empowerment.

Networking: Nurturing Connections for Growth

Networking serves as a catalyst for business growth, providing avenues for collaboration and expansion. Adopting a strategic approach, such as preparing concise pitches tailored to different contexts, empowers women to forge meaningful connections and unlock new opportunities in the competitive business landscape.

Melissa recommends having your one, three, and five minute business pitch ready at all times so you can take advantage of any networking opportunities that come your way.

Negotiation: Channeling Confidence and Assertiveness

What Would Chad Do™? That’s the question Vivian Kaye asks herself when approaching business negotiations. Who is Chad, you ask? Chad is not a masterful negotiator. Chad isn’t even a real person. Chad represents the men in the world who apply for jobs whether or not they are fully qualified for them (something women are rarely willing to do). Chad is the man who is audacious enough to ask for more in any negotiation. Chad was never taught that he should be agreeable to everyone and that he doesn’t deserve more unless he more than earns it. Women entrepreneurs are encouraged to have the audacity of a man and advocate for themselves and their businesses in a confident, professional way.

Here are some tips for negotiating with confidence:

  1. Know Your Worth: Recognize the value you bring to the table and approach negotiations with confidence in your abilities and contributions.
  2. Prepare Thoroughly: Research the market, understand your counterpart’s needs and priorities, and anticipate potential objections or challenges in advance.
  3. Set Clear Goals: Define your objectives and desired outcomes for the negotiation, ensuring they are specific, measurable, and aligned with your business objectives.
  4. Practice Assertiveness: Challenge societal norms and stereotypes by asserting your needs and advocating for yourself confidently (but not rudely) during negotiations.
  5. Focus on Win-Win Solutions: Strive for mutually beneficial agreements where both parties feel satisfied with the outcome, fostering long-term relationships and collaborations.
  6. Use Active Listening: Listen attentively to the other party’s perspective, validate (but not necessarily agree with) their concerns, and demonstrate empathy to build rapport and trust. This might sound like, “I understand you need to make money. I need to make money too. We can find an agreement that is beneficial to both of us.”
  7. Stay Calm and Composed: Maintain your composure and professionalism, even in challenging or confrontational situations, to convey confidence and control.
  8. Negotiate from a Position of Strength: Highlight your strengths, expertise, and unique selling points to reinforce your negotiating position and leverage.
  9. Be Flexible and Creative: Explore alternative solutions and compromises to overcome impasses and find innovative ways to meet both parties’ needs.
  10. Seek Support and Mentorship: Surround yourself with a supportive network of mentors, peers, or negotiation coaches who can offer guidance, encouragement, and feedback.
  11. Practice Self-Advocacy: Advocate for your interests and needs assertively, without apologizing or downplaying your contributions, to ensure your voice is heard and respected.
  12. Learn from Experience: Reflect on past negotiation experiences, identify lessons learned, and continuously refine your negotiation skills to become more effective and confident over time.

Leadership: Empowering Teams with Values

Effective leadership starts with aligning business practices with personal values, fostering a culture of trust and empowerment within the organization. By relying on intuition and gut instincts, women entrepreneurs can navigate the complexities of managing employees while prioritizing values-driven decision-making. By necessity, most women have highly attuned intuitions. In business, as in life, it is important to trust your intuition.

As you grow in your business, you must also learn to transition from reactive to proactive leadership. By cultivating proactive energy and focusing on overarching Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), women entrepreneurs can steer their businesses toward new heights, driving innovation and adaptation in a dynamic marketplace. Finding time to work on your business instead of in your business is essential for long term business success.

Financial Confidence: Cultivating a Money Positive Mindset

Confidence with finances is pivotal for women entrepreneurs, empowering them to navigate financial decisions with clarity and conviction. Strategies like keeping visual reminders of financial goals, such as prop money, instill a positive money mindset and reinforce the value of your time and the achievement of your earnings.

Top Tips for Women in Business

  • Balancing Priorities: Recognize the delicate balance between business and personal life, and prioritize what is non-negotiable versus flexible. Remember, when juggling many priorities, some of your balls are glass and will shatter if dropped, while others are made of rubber and will bounce back up if they hit the ground. The trick is being able to differentiate between the “glass” and “rubber” priorities.
  • Overcoming Self-Doubt: Trust your instincts and embrace uncertainty, knowing that setbacks are opportunities for growth. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? Usually the answer is nothing that you can’t easily bounce back from, so go for it!
  • Turning Adversity into Opportunity: Adopt a resilient mindset, viewing challenges as stepping stones for development. Vivian advises that women in business “turn sh*t into manure to help you grow.” It might not smell very good, but your flowers will be prettier for it.
  • Seeking Inspiration: Channel the confidence of “Chad” to assert yourself and pursue opportunities fearlessly.
  • Embracing the Journey: Embrace the diversity of experiences, acknowledging both triumphs and challenges. Not every day is going to be a rose garden. Some days you are going to be shoveling manure and digging in the dirt to help your roses grow, and some days you’ll be enjoying your roses. The journey is as important as the destination.
  • Knowing When to Pivot: Trust your intuition to guide you to recognize when to persevere and when to pivot, understanding that changing course is a sign of adaptability, not failure.

Authenticity: Shining Bright in Your Own Light

Above all, authenticity is the cornerstone of success for women entrepreneurs. By embracing their unique stories, perspectives, and identities, women can shine brightly in their entrepreneurial endeavors, leveraging their distinctiveness to propel their businesses forward with passion and purpose. As Vivian says, “Shine like you,” not like anyone else.


In conclusion, the journey of women in business is as diverse and multifaceted as the women themselves. Through resilience, determination, and a commitment to authenticity, women entrepreneurs can overcome obstacles, seize opportunities, and carve their path to success in the ever-evolving world of business. Let’s empower each other to thrive and shine brightly as we journey toward our entrepreneurial dreams.

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