At the end of a recent interview, I was asked what advice I would give to entrepreneurs. I said to embrace all that you are, that your business can be an amazing vehicle of self expression and value creation; to surround yourself with like-minded people; and to remember the mantra, “I am not for everybody.” At that moment we were at the end of our time. So it was a great “mic drop.” At the same time, it’s important for me to apply due diligence and further unpack that statement. It may resonate for some of you. For others, it may sound disturbing, or feel uncomfortable to say. Yet, it is an important and powerful statement that will set you free on so many levels, as an entrepreneur and as a woman. Here’s why.
Traditionally many think the goal in business is for everyone to buy your product or service; for everyone to “like” you. In this new world where being a Good CEO means being transparent, authentic, and standing for a cause greater than lining your pockets, you are bound to run into people who don’t support the values you represent. The goal is not to chase down everybody. It’s to find your customers, your tribe. And I guarantee, they’re out there.
I understand this requires a leap of a faith. It’s a departure from the bending and flexing women have historically been trained to do in an effort to please everyone, to be liked.
I love the story of Beatrice Dixon, Founder of The Honey Pot - a plant-based line of feminine hygiene products. Target featured her in their “Founders We Believe In” commercial series earlier this year. At the end of the spot Beatrice says:
”The reason why it’s so important for The Honey Pot to do well is so the next black girl that comes up with a great idea could have a better opportunity. That means a lot to me.”
The backlash from racists was immediate. They began to post false and negative reviews of her product on popular consumer rating sites. They accused her of being racist - which is completely absurd, given the very definition of racism. Nevertheless, they went in like villagers in a Frankenstein movie. Beatrice did not engage. She did not retract or water-down her dedication to young black girls or to her community. Instead she stood in her power, and remained unapologetic. This is important because I am old enough to remember an America where those old gaslighting tricks worked to prevent African Americans from openly expressing their pride - particularly in spaces of business. The threat of being shunned and punished monetarily for being black and proud, was and still is very real. Well the boomerang effect that resulted was affirmation to me that things are changing. Honey Pot’s products began to fly off the shelves and sold out in Target stores around the country. People of every race voted against this racist attack, with their dollars. The community emerged in action against a greater cause. And it was magnificent!
The moral of the story: Your power is in understanding you are not for everybody. Your super-power lies in the unique footprint you have when you draw your line in the sand, embrace your brand identity and transmit your values - with no apologies.
Beatrice Dixon was featured on The Good CEO podcast. You can listen to her interview here.