Published January 26th, 2015 at 4:21 PM3 minute read
Sara Davidson is no stranger to KC’s entrepreneurship community. But after a stint in the marketing industry, a transition to the startup world, and two burnouts — all before the age of 30 — she knew she wanted to do something different.
She started Hello Fearless, a company with the goal of “creating a world of unstoppable women.”
Take the company’s first initiative — the Boss School. It’s an online course in entrepreneurship just for women. The Boss School’s first class started last fall and had 25 students. Now, there’s a waiting list of more than 400 women who want to get in on the next Boss School session.
The company first came out of the business accelerator Spark Labs and later partnered up with the Kauffman Foundation and the Women’s Business Center. Now, Hello Fearless is primarily funded by angel investors.
Davidson spoke with reporter Bridgit Bowden about the goals for Hello Fearless and the Boss School and how women can become successful and happy entrepreneurs.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
What is Hello Fearless?
We’re a little bit different. Our model is to partner with the world’s leading experts and mentors to bring them together to provide the best entrepreneurial and personal growth training.
Kauffman FastTrac is the business curriculum that we offer in Boss School. But, we’re also going to spend four full weeks on self awareness and conquering fears. We’re calling it the “core four” that every woman needs to become unstoppable. And no matter where you are with your business, the self awareness part is so key.
The women in our first Boss School class were from all over, all types of people. So we ended up with all types of businesses. We have wine bars and coaches and fitness studios and life science — really everything.
Why did you decide to start your company, Hello Fearless?
I had this idea for Hello Fearless because I was looking around Kansas City, and I was like, “Where are all the women entrepreneurs at?” Because at the time, I wanted to connect with other women entrepreneurs. I just realized that there was a really big opportunity to support women and, specifically, women entrepreneurs in a different way.
Everything I had learned taught me that the first step is figuring out who you are, and the type of life that you want, and the type of impact you want to have on the world, and then building a business that’s aligned with that.
There’s a lot of stuff that goes on that’s like, “Can women have it all?” I hate that. I think that it’s absolutely possible to have it all — the question is when.
What challenges do women entrepreneurs face?
I’ve found that it tends to be fear that holds women back. A lot of women either don’t start companies or aren’t growing them beyond themselves because they feel like they’re going to have to sacrifice being an incredible mother.
I think that we’re brought up to think that everything is about work-life balance. And I think that balance is bullshit. It’s all about integration.
There’s a lot of stuff that goes on that’s like, “Can women have it all?” I hate that. I think that it’s absolutely possible to have it all — the question is when. You can’t always build a million dollar company and have three kids at the same time, right? So the question isn’t if you can have it all, it’s figuring out what the right path is to get there.
Also, we put a lot of it on our own shoulders. And I think one of the ways that society is moving and changing is that it’s ok to ask for help. Realizing you don’t have to do everything by yourself.
How can women entrepreneurs integrate their lives, like you just described?
The foundation of everything in your whole life is you. And I think so many people don’t focus on themselves. Not only discovering who they really are but also self care, play and fun, relationships, gratitude and really prioritizing themselves. We get focused on all these external rewards and external happiness, when it really all comes down to foundationally who you are.
I think it’s really easy, if you spend the time, to visualize your ideal life, your ideal health, your ideal career, the ideal amount of money you want to make, your ideal love relationships, and the things you want to do in your life. Hell, that’s what Pinterest is for. It’s vision boarding times a million. I think women have no problem thinking and daydreaming about that stuff.
But, I don’t think people dive into why they want those things. You know, what is their primary motivation behind any goal? And a vision without a motivation behind it — it’s really hard to get there. So, we teach exercises to identify motivation.
How has the KC business and entrepreneurship community reacted to the Boss School idea?
We’ve had some pushback of some people asking if women can really have it all. And I think that’s crap.
I think if we had a problem of too many women dreaming too big, I’d understand that. But I think that women aren’t dreaming big enough. What we’re focused on is getting you to dream bigger about not only your business, but also your life and what’s possible.