Courtney Spritzer and Stephanie Abrams, founders of Socialfly NY and Startups in Stilettos, share what they have learned from being female leaders.
Women in leadership is a hot topic in the business world. It is hard to scroll through your latest feed without seeing an opinion on the topic. Women are setting a new pace for leaders everywhere.
Courtney Spritzer and Stephanie Abrams, founders of Socialfly NY and Startups in Stilettos, are two of those women putting their best foot forward when it comes to leadership. Forefront Magazine caught up with the team to learn more about what challenges they face and how they overcome them.
Forefront Magazine: Tell me about your career path and what lead you to begin Socialfly.
Courtney Spritzer: I studied economics and business in college and after I graduated, I worked in finance at Hanover Insurance Group and American Express. While in college, I developed a love of Facebook and spent countless hours on the site. While working at American Express, the company was really embracing social and formed partnerships with Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter. I was very impressed by how they were embracing social and I knew from using these social media platforms that there were opportunities for businesses of all sizes. I started working with Stephanie on the side of my job at American Express and started helping small businesses with their social media. I fell in love with what I was doing and wanted to pursue it full time. In May of 2012, I quit my job at American Express and started working on Socialfly full time. It was the best decision I ever made, and the company has grown so quickly ever since.
Stephanie Abrams: I studied hospitality and business management at Cornell University. Right out of college, I worked for Marriott and then Hilton, doing sales for their ownership division. During that time I started helping my entrepreneurial friends who were starting businesses with their sales and marketing strategies. I shared with them that they really needed to start using social media as it was going to be the way of the future. After I had a few clients on the side of my full time job, I took the leap and left Corporate America to start my own Agency. I always knew that I was destined to run my own business and have never looked back.
FM: What challenges have you faced as a woman in business? How have you overcome those challenges? Have either of you experienced these challenges?
Spritzer: There are many challenges that we face as business owners that are common among both male and female business owners. We have been figuring out what to do as we go and have surrounded ourselves with positive and motivating mentors who have once been in our shoes. Now that we have employees, one of the biggest challenges we face is how to recruit and motivate talent.
Abrams: Another challenge that we faced when started our business was pricing our services. Many times when we were working with men who were the decision makers in the organization, they felt as though they could intimidate us to lower our pricing. It is easy to get into the mentality of “I just want to get the business,” especially when just beginning. The thinking is, if I do a great job, they will come back and/or encourage others to do business with me. While this can sometimes be true, you are really putting yourself at a disadvantage. While you do need those first clients to gain some momentum and generate some word of mouth, you can set a dangerous precedent. You have now set an expectation that customers can and will try to exploit. Attempting to raise prices to a level that will sustain your business will become a major challenge. You are guaranteeing some level of dissatisfaction for your new and only clients.
The reality is that there will always be people who shop for the least expensive possible product or service they can find. They will make their decision solely on who is cheapest regardless of the quality they may or may not receive. These are not the clients for you. You don’t want to kick business out the door; however, you do need to find customers who value your time and expertise while appreciating the quality you offer. As an owner you always have the ability to discount your prices when you want or as needed. Starting at a price point too low eliminates your ability to do so efficiently. Even worse, it can eliminate your ability to remain profitable. Don’t sell yourself short. Working with a strong accountant can help you immensely. Work with them to figure out what the right balance may be in terms of pricing and sustainability.
FM: What has been the best lesson you have learned along your career journey?
Spritzer: The best lesson I’ve learned is to keep moving forward. Everyone makes mistakes and as long as you learn from them, its okay!
Abrams: The best lesson I have learned along my career journey is to listen more than you talk. If you are always listening, you will be the one who knows exactly what you client needs and you will be able to give it to them.
FM: You founded Startups in Stilettos, can you tell me more about this group?
Spritzer: When Stephanie and I first started, we met a lot of women business owners. We also have many friends who left Corporate America and started their own companies. We learned so much from these women and felt empowered by sharing our experiences. We started Startups in Stilettos because we wanted to create a community of women who could help each other and inspire each other. We host quarterly events – both public and private – in NYC.
FM: What do you hope for the next generation of women leaders?
Spritzer: I am so inspired by our current generation of women leaders, and I know they are paving the way for the women leaders to come. I hope our next generation of leaders is fearless, confident, and resilient!
Abrams: I hope to see the next generation of women leaders continuing to help and support other women. It is so important that women continue to empower and help each other grow personally and professionally.
FM: Can you offer any helpful advice for younger women who are up-and-coming leaders?
Spritzer: Do you research and test the market for demand before investing a lot of money into what you are doing. There is a lot you can learn before diving in full force. Once you decide to start your own business, be prepared to dedicate all of your time to get it off the ground! It’s hard work, but so rewarding!
Abrams: Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance and support from others who have once been in your shoes. Personally, there is nothing I find more rewarding than helping other entrepreneurs. We have learned along that way that asking others for help and guidance has been one of the keys to our success.