It’s not always a great idea to leave the comfort of your day job when pursuing your own endeavor, but sometimes you have to take the risk.
Featuring a group of female contestants' who’ve done just that, a new Oxygen television series, Don’t Quit Your Day Job, will test their expertise, experience and industry know-how through a series of challenges in a series of eight episodes. A crew of judges — Randi Zuckerberg, consumer products tycoon Ido Leffler, startup advocate Sarah Prevette and master marketer Lauren Maillian — will then select the best entrepreneur with the best pitch.
The series debut on Wednesday at 10 p.m will feature passionate entrepreneurs duking it out for a chance of a lifetime with ideas and brands from fighting gear for women to glorified head scratchers.
To promote the show, the entrepreneurs, along with Samantha Skey of SheKnows Media, Daniella Yacobovsky of Baublebar and Melissa Ben-ishay of Baked By Melissa, hosted a panel last week to discuss the industry and the importance of female entrepreneurship.
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“We wanted to advance visibility for female entrepreneurs, and it really fit with our core mission,” Skey says. “We’re trying to elevate the visibility of female entrepreneurs by using pop culture. Going mainstream is important to changing stereotypes.”
No matter the winner, contestants and viewers alike will have another show, much like Shark Tank, to get some sound business advice. Some may be similar to these lessons and points the panelists shared:
1. Trust your investors as much as your partner.
Yacobovsky started her company with a close friend in college after they noticed a serious gap in the industry for affordable jewelry. They trusted each other and had a similar go-getter attitude, which helped Baublebar become a success.
But along with your co-founders, Yacobovsky pointed out that you must be able to like and trust your investors as well.
“If you really love your product, there’s nothing worse than working with an investor you don’t trust,” she says.
2. Make sure your partners share your passions and goals.
Ido’s lifestyle wasn’t always so Silicon Valley. In fact, growing up, his family lost everything. For that reason, he says, if he wanted to do anything — go to the movies, travel, buy something — it was up to him to figure out how to pay for it.He had one "normal" job at a local grocery store before he started his first business. Since then he’s had multiple ventures, some successful and others complete duds.
“Nothing happens overnight,” he says.
For that reason, the entrepreneur said who you go into business with is more important than the idea. Ideas may come and go, but who you associate with is much longer term.
“They may have a great idea, but if I don’t like them, I’m not going to work with them,” Ido says.
It’s important to get to know who you’d be working with on a more personal level and ask questions. Do you you share the same goals and passions?
Sometimes going with emotion and gut feeling can be a good thing. It can make the experience more personal and motivational. Passion and civil service or giving back, for example, are a huge part of the industry, he says.
3. Fight the white-guy-wearing-a-hoodie-in-his-garage mentality.
It may be an advantage Zuckerberg has a “guy name,” but that hasn't always been the case.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a Silicon Valley interview and their faces just fall,” she says. “But at that point I’m just like, ‘Gotchya!’ ”
"But it’s important we start getting the message out there that an entrepreneur can be many different things," she adds. "Not every entrepreneur is some white guy who wears hoodies and works out of his garage."
4. Pursue your passion.
Ben-ishay received help from her brother starting Baked By Melissa after she lost her job.
“Normal people would go home and mope for a bit after losing their job,” she says. “I kind of just went home and made cupcakes … 250 of them.”
Rather than sulking in tears, the entrepreneur made a hobby she loved into a multi-million dollar venture.
Ben-ishay’s experience is a prime example of the show’s entire point.
“I want girls and women to see that if you’re not trying your ass off you’re unlikely to be successful. It’s something I believe strongly and it can hold us back sometimes," Skey says. "If you have to really take risks and really put it out there or really let go or lose something, you might go to a more comfortable place instead. From a young age, girls aren't maybe trained as much to ask for what they need and try their asses off and I hope that’s what viewers glean from this, that it’s OK and admirable to try and to fail.”
Related: 5 Unstoppable Female Entrepreneurs Making Their Dents on the World
6. Pick the right hill to die on
Maillian, former model and owner of LMB Group, didn't grow up in a free-thinking household, but she still held her own opinions. That mentality is what inspired her to eventually start a winery and win multiple awards in her late teens.
Still, the business woman recognizes the importance of picking the right hill to die on.
“You have to pick and choose your battles,” she says. “Because if you choose to fight every time, you’ll never win.”
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