Case

Elizabeth Gordon & Flourishing Business
An Advisory Firm for Entrepreneurs

Introduction

Elizabeth Gordon began her business career along a traditional path when she joined a large global consulting organization, following graduating from a top business school. However, much to her dismay, she did not find happiness or fulfillment in this occupation. As she looked "up the ladder" she saw few female role models embodying the type of balanced and purposeful success that she craved. Elizabeth had always been an ambitious, high-achiever, however she because she was so passionate about having a successful career, she was also motivated by finding meaning and fulfilling a purpose. She had a strong desire to make a lasting impact, and as she sat in her cubicle leading cross-functional teams assigned to multi-million dollar merger projects helpingthe rich get richer, she began to develop a sneaking suspicion there had to be more...

 

Background

Elizabeth spent 10 years in corporate America, working for various prestigious companies in exciting roles of increasing responsibility, managing departments like sales & marketing, finance and operations, leading new initiatives, training customers and new employees, selling, and consulting, and she learned a lot. Somewhere in the back of her mind though she knew one day she would start her own business, but she wanted to learn as much as she could before she took that leap. She went back to school and got a masters degree in marketing. One day when she sat down to re-do her resume for yet another new job search, she suddenly saw on paper just how much she had accomplished. One HR person remarked, your resume looks like that of someone twice your age. The next day at work when she led a training session for new hires, one of her students remarked that she seemed to have a better concept of the company's value proposition than any of the other people they had met since being hired, including the founder and Chief Research Officer. That was it. She finally knew she was ready to go out on her own.

 

Professional challenge

Her background and experience made her well positioned to become an independent consultant, and her passion from empowering the greater good drew her to the entrepreneurial market. She started her own business, and was off and running, or so she thought. However, as she got out and networked and marketed, she learned two things: 1) There were an awful lot of other consultants out there, 2) Most of them were middle aged men. As a young woman, she didn't fit the navy blue pin stripe suit mold of her profession. What was she to do?

 

Personal challenge

While she knew she was just as smart and business savvy as her competition, she didn't look like them, act like them or think like them, and she didn't want to try to. She wanted to succeed by using her own strengths, by being her own unique self, and not feeling she had to hide the fact that she was a woman. After all, wasn't being a woman a good thing?

 

Wrap up

What if instead of looking at her youth, her unique style, and her femininity as a weakness, she viewed it as a strength? She decided to reposition herself and her firm in the marketplace, emphasizing the very things that she had previously hoped no one would notice. She brought her femininity and her funky style to the forefront and used it to create her own proprietary business methodology which was later dubbed "the feminine approach to building a running a business." She penned a best selling book for women business owners called The Chic Entrepreneur: Put Your Business in Higher Heels and became a thought leader, a professional speaker and one of the foremost experts in helping women to succeed in business. She used her fun sense of style to design a website and marketing that spoke directly to her new target market and made a lasting impression on them. Recognizing the importance of relationships to her female target market, she created an online community for her fans to get more and more value. She then built scale into her business by licensing her brand and intellectual property to other business advisors and expanded her business beyond just her own efforts. She leveraged her brands through sponsors and affiliates and formed strategic partnerships with others to maximize the business's impact and value. She designed her role in the business around her strengths and the work she loved. She put herself on a 'Chic Schedule' of 20 hour weeks, 3-day weekends, and lots of vacations. Her business enabled her ideal lifestyle. She used being a smart, savvy, sassy, stylish businesswoman as a selling point and became a Chic Success!