It’s been awhile since I have been able to post a Business Women’s Spotlight entry. Everyone is so busy these days, and it gets a little cumbersome trying to touch bases with everyone and lockdown questions and answers.
I was blessed to come across Shasta Nelson from GirlfriendCircles.com, an online site that matches friends with one another through local “circles”.
Read more about GirlFriend Circles and how it can help you! Also learn about starting your own business as Shasta shares her tips with us!
TCC-Thank you for being a part of TheCubicleChick.com’s Business Women’s Spotlight! What exactly is Girlfriend Circles?
GC- GirlFriendCircles is the only online community that matches new friends offline by connecting circles of women in local areas. There are so many times in life when we move, go through life stages or experience an awareness that our lives would be enhanced by having a greater sense of community in our lives, but it’s often hard to know how to establish it. We introduce you to other awesome women in your area and provide all the resources we can think of to help inspire you to foster them into meaningful friendships based on sharing and connecting.
TCC- How did you get started with your business?
GC-As a life coach, I had several clients, all impressive women, who were experiencing various life changes— working from home, going through a divorce or moving to a new city. During these transitions, we could go online to find resources for romance, careers and dream homes, but in the area of life that I feel has the greatest impact to someone feeling rooted, impacting both their happiness and health, we were having a difficult time finding ways to help them establish face-to-face friendships.
The resources we did keep finding seemed inadequate— they were either based on profiles which left me asking “how many of my current friends would I have honestly chosen off of a profile and picture?” or they were based on big social mixers or a specific activity, which can be exhausting and tiring to even the most outgoing among us and rarely seem to lead to real connecting outside that shared interest. So I went to bed asking myself what I thought could help bond women and I woke up with GirlFriendCircles.com.
Out of passion, came awareness of a need, which pushed me to eventually seek a possible solution. But even having a great solution didn’t automatically mean I was going to start it. I still did a lot of market research, interviewed a bunch of friends, brainstormed with a developer, experimented with writing a business plan & marketing plan to flesh out my ideas and questioned how it interacted with my own life purpose and expertise. It would still be another 6 months before I would “launch” but, much like a pregnancy, I think that time “in the womb” was super significant to the growth process process down the road.
TCC- What do you find most challenging about starting & growing a business?
The challenge, appropriately, is always determining what the “best” method is for how to accomplish the dream. I can read all the books in the world, sit with several different experts and ask a lot of questions— all to end up with a dozen different “best ways.” One mentor told me to do it one way, another told me the opposite. And somewhere in that, I have to keep learning and absorbing other ideas, but I also have to figure out what is the best way for me and my business, even if it looks different from someone else who is successful. I have to give myself permission to trust myself and what I offer, which includes also forgiving myself for trying different things or changing strategy. Identifying how to maximize the business to my strengths and manage around my areas of inexperience or weakness is the constant journey for me.
TCC- Where do you envision Girlfriend Circles will be in the next five years?
GC- My great business challenge is that my success is built on achieving critical mass in each market, so I hope that five years from now, GirlFriendCircles.com will be in every city, filled with a vibrant community of women who value friendship. I hope we’re known as a fun and inspiring resource for women to expand their circle of friends.
TCC-Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration starts from a deep belief that we are at our best when we are in community, it is strengthened by how I see that truth reflected in science, lived out by others and experienced in my own life. It is when we are surrounded by others that we learn the most about ourselves, can practice love and forgiveness and can experience what it feels like to be supported. Research continues to inspire me as we all see the link between our health, longevity, mood and success linked to our circle of friends.
TCC- Any advice to a woman starting her own business?
GC-I look back and think the time I spent planning before my launch was some of my best spent hours. We’re all so anxious to get started, but much like a pregnancy, there is so much value in letting the idea form and grow before it has to survive. In that time, I went to web sites like startupnation.org to make myself go through all the business questions to create a business plan, subscribed to Inc magazine for entrepreneurs to expand my leadership and I read business books that were outside of my area of business expertise. It’s one thing to know what you’re passionate about or what you enjoy doing, but just wanting to encourage female friendships isn’t enough to ensure that it has the legs it needs to grow into maturity.
TCC-What have you learned most through this process?
GC- Wow! Hard to narrow it down! I have definitely re-learned the truth that just having a good idea doesn’t ensure success. I wish it did! I certainly read about some “overnight success stories”, but in my case I have had to learn to celebrate the small milestones, find joy in growth where it happens even if it’s less than I hoped for and to learn to toast my courage even if the results felt like failures. I cannot control all outcomes, but I can control my response to them and my willingness to keep forging ahead.
TCC-How can my readers find out more about GirlFriend Circles?
Visit my web site: GirlFriendCircles.com. Use code “Cubicle” and save 15% off your membership!