There’s nothing more powerful than a confident woman, and a confident woman is an inspiring woman. That’s why we’ve decided to sit down with some of today’s most inspiring female business owners to find out what drives them, what led them on the path to success and what motivated them to follow their dreams in the first place. Join us over the next few months as we uncover stories of successful female entrepreneurs in our blog series, How She Did It.
Ana Santos has had no shortage of opportunities since she began her journey to becoming a female business owner. As a young web designer, she gained the experience that would later allow her to work with major companies such as Google. But even though her role at Google was one not many would turn down, she knew her true purpose and passion lay elsewhere - starting her own company. She’s now the co-founder of Portugal based User Experience (UX) agency, Iterateev, where she helps other entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses by improving their websites and apps. She’s also built her own successful personal brand as a UX consultant and conversation optimization specialist.
In this month’s installment of How She Did It, Ana shares what led her to become a fearless female CEO and what motivates her to create products that truly change people’s lives for the better.
What inspired you to become a female CEO in the first place?
I always dreamed I could make some sort of impact in the world. I was lucky enough to work in fulfilling 9-to-5 roles related to my field, but I always felt something was missing. And I think, in my case, that “something” was having my own mission and purpose. I always had so many ideas I wanted to implement, so I knew that one day I'd create my own business.
What has been one of your biggest obstacles as a business owner and how did you overcome it?
When I first ventured myself as an independent designer, my biggest obstacle was the need to hustle to get new clients and projects all the time. I didn't have any kind of process or strategy in place. Even though I was getting many referrals (my marketing strategy was non-existent) I thought I needed to accept everything. When you're on your own for the first time, there is that pressure and voice inside your head saying you need to be making money, and who knows when the next project will come. So I wasn't selective at all when it came to accepting projects. The result was I stopped being a "slave" to a boss, to be a slave to my clients. I was attracting the worst type of clients as well.
At some point, it hit me. I needed to start being selective. Of course, this was progressive. Nowadays, I don't accept every type of project and I have different streams of income. But I still have a long way to go. There's still so much I want to do and new projects I'm experimenting with, but the important thing is that you're constantly learning and applying what you learn as you go.
What is one habit you repeat regularly that you believe has contributed to your success?
Being open to change. And test a lot.
You need to be consistent when you have your own business, but you also need to know when a specific product or service isn't working and when it's time to move on. I see many new entrepreneurs getting stuck to these ideas that they're truly passionate about. And it's great to be innovative, but when you test your and realize it's not working, it's time to detach from your ideas to align your passion to what the market really needs.
When something doesn't work, some call it "failure", I call it "learning".
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received in business or in life?
Interact with your customers and put yourself out there! Seriously. It sounds so simple, right? As a User Experience consultant, I'm already used to talking to customers, conducting user interviews, etc. But that's not the same. Interacting online could mean doing FB lives or having a skype or zoom call with your customers. That can make such a difference online since there's no easy way to build that personal connection without it.
What motivates you to keep going every day? What is your “why”?
Knowing that my work could improve lives. Knowing that a great product or service could change someone's life if built with the user in mind. Or that the web could be a far more transparent and honest place where both users and businesses achieve their goals in a genuine and ethical way. It seems like such a small thing sometimes "Oh, I just want a website". But it can truly make a difference.
Thank you so much for giving us a look into what’s made you the gorgeous go-getter you are today, Ana!
Feeling inspired to pursue your own dreams after reading Ana’s story? Building self-confidence is the first step to making your dreams come true! Sign up for our FREE 15 Day Of Confidence Challenge and join women around the world as they step into their most powerful, confident selves.