This Unusual Way of Running My Business Has Been Crucial to My Success
When it comes to running a business, success isn’t simply a matter of following the path most traveled. It’s about having the courage to adapt, the creativity to innovate, and the audacity to shatter industry norms. To see this play out firsthand, below we take a look at the stories of 21 remarkable women from the Dreamers & Doers collective who’ve taken an unorthodox route to achieve their own definitions of entrepreneurial success.
From Tiffany Tran, who harnesses the power of technology while still maintaining a personal connection to clients, to Courtlyn Jones, who saved $100,000 by learning code and building her own platform, these incredible women reveal the game-changing strategies that have propelled them to success. Their stories are more than just a testament to thinking outside the box; they are a celebration of embracing the unexpected and defying convention.
As you dive into the learning lessons from these trailblazing women, you’ll find that they’re living proof of the endless opportunities that await those who dare to innovate and carve their own paths. We hope their stories inspire you to not just accept change but to eagerly welcome it, to question what’s expected of you, and to reimagine your own journey to success.
Co-Founder and CEO of DIG Labs, using AI and expert analysis to help companies supercharge brand experiences through the power of visual tools.
My unique approach: As an early adopter of AI, we were told from the beginning that it would take hundreds of thousands of images to even get started. We challenged this assumption by employing the leading veterinary experts to help us remove subjectivity in our data. This decision allowed us to create highly accurate AI models starting with just a thousand images, two orders of magnitude less than traditional data sets. It’s this approach to building that allowed us to quickly develop partnerships and patent our technology.
How it works: We have integrated this approach into every aspect of our day-to-day operations in the form of “experts in the loop.” For pet care, we employ our own veterinary staff to review and label our images across any of hundreds of attributes within one business day. As a result, our company is able to offer both AI rapid results and trusted expert verified results, while also optimizing our AI in near real time.
Board President of Student Organ Donation Advocates, a national nonprofit that supports passionate student advocates who are committed to reducing the organ shortage.
My unique approach: I am religious about maintaining my email inbox. I curate newsletters I subscribe to so I am constantly surrounded by new ideas. I unsubscribe to content that no longer serves me. I reply to most emails quickly and clear my inbox to "inbox zero" at the end of every week. I'm still surprised how many opportunities have come my way because I replied to an email quickly or read to the very bottom of a newsletter.
How it works: After my morning routine, I write a to-do list for the day and then check my email. I respond to some emails and read interesting newsletters to get ideas flowing. I try not to check my email much throughout the day but do so again at the end of the day.
Co-Founder and COO of Twinning Pros, LLC, helping brands of all sizes attract, convert, and retain customers with a powerful online presence.
My unique approach: We are twin sisters who are considered "mirror twins"—sisters who have completely opposite personalities and skill sets. We turned this dynamic into one of the best marketing agencies for small businesses. Having a business partner whom you can be blunt with and have open dialogue has unlocked doors to creativity and growth that we weren't sure was possible. Most people think it's unconventional that we are siblings working together, let alone twins. But we use our differences to build up our business and make each other better.
How it works: As a creative, most people aren't used to hearing negative feedback without having a negative reaction. By working together with my sister, we can openly talk about a project or strategy: what we like, don't like, and how we can improve. This dialogue has led to great results not only for us but also for our clients.
Founder of One Ripple, the place where accelerating business owners learn to scale like corporate without the pressure.
My unique approach: My perspective is that the connection to the entirety of highest knowing of what it means to be a whole being that includes our spiritual consciousness—our unfiltered essence and collection of all our beliefs, emotions, experiences, and intellect—yields better business outcomes, especially in the corporate environment that encourages that to be dismissed.
How it works: By integrating consciousness as a viable business capability in the global corporate space, I learned to see all of the operational gaps in business models, the most effective way to close them, and change paradigms. This ability continues to factor into how I help my client's understanding of the mindset of the people involved, the sub-culture of the divisions engaged, and the overarching goals of each.
Author of Designing Data Governance from the Ground Up, a guide to help readers design their governance programs from scratch, so it's woven into the fabrics of their organizations.
My unique approach: When I was writing my first book, I had a full-time job as well. I'd notice myself waking up naturally around 4 to 4:30 a.m., which was a first for someone who is not a morning person. Instead of fighting it, I started using up to two and a half hours each morning to write my draft before catching a few more hours of sleep and starting my workday. This helped me balance both responsibilities and have evenings to unwind.
How it works: Since I was waking up naturally each morning, I used that time to work on my book before the daily hustle started. I'm fortunate to have a mostly remote full-time job, which allowed me to sleep in between writing my book and starting my workday. No one should sacrifice the basics to build your passion project—it's about finding what works for your daily routine, which is often unexpected.
Co-Founder of Emma Relief, a breakthrough formulation of all-natural ingredients, developed to help reduce bloating, ease constipation, and increase gut motility.
My unique approach: We focus a lot of our efforts in educating consumers about what's in our products and why they work, utilizing long-form content and videos to unpack the science behind them. This unconventional approach, in an age of quick and fast content, enables us to turn informed prospects into buyers much more effectively, allowing our brand to grow from eight figures to nine figures within a year.
How it works: We have a sizable creative team that works closely with management and marketing, mostly creating content in-house. We consistently monitor performance data to gauge market reactions to our content. This maintains a dynamic pipeline for testing a spectrum of content forms, including visuals, videos, photos, and beyond.
Co-Founder and CEO of Go To Market, looking to change the way the world handles swag by offering creative and sustainable solutions for branded merchandise.
My unique approach: My success in entrepreneurship can be traced directly to my "say yes" policy. I say yes to everything that looks like an opportunity, even if I have no idea where it might lead. I take meetings, speak on podcasts, show up to events, and keep an open mind to the different paths ahead. Of course, I keep boundaries on my time: I'm a mom of two, a wife, and a dog mom with hobbies and interests of my own. But saying yes has been a guidepost for me throughout my entrepreneurial career.
How it works: I'm naturally optimistic and seek out creative ways to connect and partner with everyone I meet. Keeping an open mind has led me to huge milestones in my business: big sales opportunities, podcast appearances, and introductions to people I would never have met. Specifically, having a "say yes" policy led me to start my business when I said yes to helping a friend develop political t-shirts for a campaign and learned about print-on-demand merchandise.
Founder of Quimby Digital, an organic and paid social media marketing agency that works with impact driven brands around the world.
My unique approach: At Quimby Digital, our unconventional approach places mental well-being at the forefront of our business model. Recognizing the often overlooked pressures of the digital marketing realm, we've instituted monthly mental health checks for all our team members. This proactive approach not only ensures the well-being of our team, but also allows us to adjust workloads accordingly, fostering a culture of understanding and support.
How it works: This emphasis on mental health has been instrumental in our rise, proving that a cared-for team is a high-performing one. The minute we integrated this strategy we had less employee and freelancer turn over and happier clients.
Founder and CEO of The Design Database, an online community and job platform for female and non-binary creatives who need more visibility so they can build their dream careers.
My unique approach: I embarked on a coding journey to create my own platform, saving $100,000 in development costs. Learning to code empowered me to bring my vision to life and tailor it precisely to my company's needs. Instead of splurging on advertising, I adopted a personal approach, reaching out to potential customers through direct messages and inviting them into our vibrant community. This hands-on approach not only saved on marketing expenses but also fostered authentic connections within our community.
How it works: My unique approach has become a cornerstone of my day-to-day operations. I make a point to dedicate at least one to two hours a day to finding and vetting new high-quality talent. It's woven into our work culture as a practice that values authentic connections over traditional advertising. This approach has not only saved on marketing expenses but also propelled my company toward ongoing success, fostering a sense of community and trust that keeps our customers engaged and satisfied.
Co-Founder and CEO of So Syncd, a dating app that matches compatible personality types.
My unique approach: My co-founder and I made the decision to take the reins of our own PR efforts, even though we had no prior experience in the field. While some might see this as a risky move, it has enabled us to build trust with journalists and establish an authentic brand voice. We have reaped the rewards of this decision in the form of lasting relationships with top media outlets and increased company exposure.
How it works: My co-founder and I work with a range of media publications on a daily basis, which requires us to stay on our toes and think creatively. We have adopted an agile working methodology that allows us to respond quickly and effectively to journalists. This approach has filtered through to our broader team culture.
Chandler J. Esq
Attorney at Lethal Legal, helping entrepreneurs get ownership rights to their brand thanks to experienced attorneys.
My unique approach: Our decision to launch as a virtual law firm wasn't just about staying ahead of the tech curve. It was about reshaping the legal landscape to make it more accessible for entrepreneurs across the globe. But what truly sets us apart isn't just our online presence—it's our down to earth approach. We believe in ditching the intimidating legal jargon. We chat with you like we'd chat with a friend over coffee. We've made it our mission to make law feel less like a maze and more like a conversation. It's about keeping things real while ensuring real results.
How it works: Taking the road less traveled isn't just a quirky aspect of Lethal Legal; it's our DNA. From day one, our virtual setup made waves. Instead of corner offices, we have digital hubs, making legal advice just a click away for entrepreneurs worldwide. This setup fosters flexibility, allowing our team to work from their zones of genius, whether it's a beach in Bali or a coffee shop in Brooklyn.
Founder of Greatest Story Creative®, helping coaches and consultants confidently brand, streamline, and grow their greatest businesses.
My unique approach: I turned around my entire business trajectory by making the radical
decision to take the entire month of December off from client projects and meetings to work on my business instead of in it. What started in 2016 as a scary, but necessary, move to put systems into my practice has hence become "Batch December"—my annual business sabbatical. I've done seven of them to date and credit the unique time off to helping me strategically grow my business, refill my cup personally and professionally, and even develop two of my three books.
How it works: While my first "Batch December" felt like a risky experiment and I was nervous what clients would think of it, it's now become a complete cornerstone of my success. It’s something that actually attracts clients to me. I've inspired more than a dozen clients to create their own versions of a "Batch December" and watched the movement to prioritize working on your business spread!
Founder and CEO of Chapter tOO, LLC, an organizational and talent development optimization consultancy, leveraging data-backed people insights.
My unique approach: I reserve two full work days each month to step away from the business and technology to immerse myself in art, nature, or cultural experiences. This means no meetings of any sort and physically putting myself in another environment. This unorthodox decision has become a transformative practice as I've made it a rule not to make any major business decisions or commitments before these days occur.
How it works: Prioritizing both personal and business well-being through this practice of centering and balanced decision-making has made me a better leader. It has cultivated an environment and day-to-day operational approach that nurtures creativity and fosters more deliberate and impactful business strategies.
Founder and Photographer at The Goldenbrand, a digital haven specializing in personal brand photography, editorial content creation, and strategy consulting for growing brands.
My unique approach: I don’t believe that women need to keep looking outside of themselves for answers. In fact, we have most likely overly integrated the very attributes we associate with feelings of not being pretty enough, talented enough, creative enough, photogenic enough, or worthy of a beautiful self portrait. When I teach members of the Self Portrait Studio community, we focus on healing our relationship with our own image first. The technical aspects of the photograph come second. I have helped hundreds of women learn to heal through the art of self-portrait photography in this way.
How it works: I realized early on that I prefer focusing on the digital photography space, rather than selling prints or having a physical studio. That business model is great, but it’s not for me. I want to remove that barrier and make photography more accessible to anyone, anywhere. I want to put the power of creating beautiful imagery in the hands of those who need it most but don't have access to it because of location or budget limitations. Taking the road less traveled has allowed my company to truly stand out in a saturated market.
Founder of LightPath Admissions, offering expert admissions consulting to high school, grad, and MBA students.
My unique approach: In an era of digital transformation, we've embraced the unconventional by harnessing the power of AI chatbots. We've strategically incorporated external AI chatbots into our admissions consulting process. We're thrilled to see that the higher education landscape is slowly but surely recognizing the value of AI. Many colleges, once hesitant and even fearful of AI, are now embracing it as a tool to empower students. Some institutions have even begun encouraging students to use AI, like ChatGPT, for brainstorming and editing—an approach we've adopted at LightPath Admissions.
How it works: Our partnerships with a select few AI chatbots provide data-driven insights that play a pivotal role in assisting students with their inquiries, ensuring they receive timely guidance throughout their admissions journey. This integration has elevated our services to a higher level of responsiveness, underscoring our unwavering commitment to ethical practice and client success. It's a testament to our dedication to embracing technology while preserving the vital human touch that defines our consulting service. We've harnessed the power of technology while maintaining the personal connection that defines our consulting service.
Founder and CEO of HN Haus | HN Consulting | This Hudson Studio | This Hudson Farm, a collection of brands centered around the concept of redefining the way we work and live.
My unique approach: Leading with intuition first has been a tool that has been instrumental in our success. As someone who admires and appreciates data and strategy, I lead with our vision and my intuitive decisions, and I use data to back them up. It's helped our brand stay in alignment and grow since its inception.
How it works: My team and I meet frequently about our goals and launch planning. We schedule a yearly in-person retreat to review what's working and what's not working, and plan for the following year. During this time I'll share my vision on the next 12-month goals and objectives and my team will come together to add to this input and build the roadmap to bring the vision to life. It's a collaborative process but has allowed us to surpass seven figures in sales within our first 12 months and continue to see growth year-over-year.
Founder and CEO of C|Louise, a team of creative problem solvers and relentless explorers crafting tailored strategies for lasting brand impact.
My unique approach: In PR, the traditional path often follows strict “scopes of work”—retainers and checkboxes. Our approach, in the simplest terms, is entirely different. We’re an all-in strategic partner for our clients. Every detail matters and every “yes” propels us toward excellence. We’re fearless in our “no” to unlock and make room for boundless possibilities. We’re not bounded by a scope of work—we are truly an everything partner.
How it works: We believe in the power of looking within but also bringing in strategic partners to help amplify and activate the special sauce that makes us shine. Our business consultant helped us take this unconventional approach and weave it into our internal handbook. Now, our team always has a tangible place to reconnect to the core magic of what drives our culture and our team. For us, it's not just an approach or enough to simply say the words. It's our driving force, shaping us to scale and deliver unparalleled value to our clients!
Founder and CEO of Lane Collective, an agile network of independent experts that support technology startups and mid-market innovators in achieving their growth goals.
My unique approach: Early on in my entrepreneurial journey, I made the unorthodox decision to limit the amount of time I work to under 30 hours per week. I have big growth goals and I won't compromise on them. At the same time, I was conscious that the freedom I gained working for myself would be worthless if it cost me my most valuable asset: my time with the people I love. Instead of working more than 60 hours a week, I invest that "extra" time into the relationships that make life rich.
How it works: I'm efficiency focused anyway, but this limitation forced me to work smarter, not harder. Growing a business this way requires me to focus on key points of leverage, and consistently re-engage with my vision and goals. Operationally, I use tactics like calendar blocking, clear project scoping, and systems for scalability.
Co-Founder of Learn Grant Writing, helping those looking for a flexible career change become well-paid grant writers.
My unique approach: Advisors in the course/community industry have told us that it's too soon to hire an integrator in operations. We disagreed. CEOs are often at the top, juggling it all. By having a co-founder with an operations emphasis, we were able to systematize and scale our business extremely quickly. We went from nearly closing our doors to $1 million in annual recurring revenue in two years.
How it works: Thanks to our integrator co-founder, standard operating procedure playbooks became a part of our culture early on. Our ability to rapidly onboard new hires and keep operations running so smoothly is one of our unique advantages!
Marnie Rabinovitch Consky
Founder and CEO of Thigh Society, the leading direct-to-consumer brand of size-inclusive long leg undergarment solutions to sweating, chafing, and modesty.
My unique approach: I’m the only full-time employee at Thigh Society. The rest of my team is composed of remote, part-time freelance contractors and small agency teams who work virtually across the globe. This organizational structure is very uncommon for startups, but it allows Thigh Society to access deep functional expertise in ecommerce without the steep learning curve of onboarding and training junior staff. Plus, it ensures that each team member is working to their strengths.
How it works: Each of our team members are experts who function like consultants, yet are still hands-on with the day-to-day tasks that the business needs. We have a culture of mutual respect over micromanagement, where independence and critical thinking are encouraged. Given that we’re all in different time zones, we communicate regularly via Slack and email, and use Google Meet for efficient meetings that are scheduled in EST. The best thing I can do is get out of everyone’s way and let them do what they do best. It speaks volumes that several of our freelancers have referred former colleagues to join our team, creating a network of skilled, like-minded, smart people. We’ve been more than doubling our revenues over the last several years while maintaining profitability, so I’d say this approach is working for us!
Sydney de Arenas Sherman
CEO of Montie & Joie, an ethical home goods and clothing brand that focuses on financially empowering women around the world.
My unique approach: When my first child was born, I had no choice but to work long hours. When the second was born, I took a risk and decided to only work the four hours my oldest was in school. It felt like jumping off a cliff. I am heavily involved in 10 different businesses and am in the process of starting another, but I just couldn't miss my babies anymore. This was the best business decision I have made. I am hyper-focused on the decisions I am making and only move forward on the most important action items for each business. My operations are much more efficient and we are accomplishing more while spending less!
How it works: I had time to do more before, which meant I allowed myself to try different tactics and tackle a variety of initiatives at once. This led to more regular failures and pivots, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But by being focused on the most important items instead of every item, my team is more organized, energized, and dedicated to what we are doing. I feel this was the best decision for us. My team feels my focused energy, which propels them to work hard on whatever we are tackling.
All individuals featured in this article are members of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community that amplifies extraordinary women entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders by securing PR, forging authentic connections, and curating high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and get involved here.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.