10 Things Our Female Founder Has Learnt In 10 Years of Happily

Happily was founded 10 years ago back in February 2012!

The decade-long journey of the Happily brand has been filled with challenges, successes, and pivots - the usual rollercoaster ride that is the entrepreneurial journey for an ambitious female founder.

Our Founder (and CEO) Sarah Shewey is an experience economy pioneer with a background in film and tech from the University of Southern California. She was also an early operator at the TED conferences, and is the board president of dublab, a non-profit, radio station dedicated to the growth of music, arts, and culture. Sarah first started building Happily as a dedicated weddings company, launched as 'Pink Cloud 9'.

Happily Founder Sarah Shewey

Our Happily Founder and CEO, Sarah Shewey, shares her top advice for other entrepreneurs and female founders.

1. The odds are truly stacked up against women.

Stick together, ladies! Only 3% of women will make a million dollar business and only 2% of venture funding goes to women. We have to stick together, be vocal, share our resources, and do everything we can to help each other — there’s a long road to achieving gender equity - even in the event industry.

2. Digital marketing is critical.

Empacing and understanding online marketing is an important component to growing a company or even just launching an event. It’s essential for career growth as an events entrepreneur to understand basic web design, the science behind marketing funnels, and the power of social media.

3. There are imposters out there who will steal your ideas and it sucks.

However, complaining about it won’t achieve anything. When you have competition, you have only two choices: (1) run faster; or (2) pivot. In both cases, innovation and originality will lead you to success.

4. Establish clear, measurable goals.

Having ambition without clear, measurable goals is the fastest way to achieve burnout or simply never getting ideas off the ground. If you can’t articulate the milestones important to achieving success with your company or project, don’t take one step further and get that done.

5. Gather advisors to help guide the way.

A board of advisors that you meet with on a quarterly basis is so helpful to keep you accountable and help you make tough decisions. Build a board that has expertise in things that you do not. However, remember to take in that advice, consider their words, and then weigh it up in your own time.

6. Try before you buy.

Some people interview really well, but they’re actually not well suited for the job. Consider hiring your next team member as a freelancer with a small project that lasts a day or a week. This way you can see if they can do the job with ease before officially bringing them in.

7. The riches are in the niches.

It’s a lot easier to make money quickly and sustainably if you just do one thing. Think about your favorite mom and pop shop that has lasted for generations. They all basically started out with getting famous for one dish or product. Start small and focused, then expand big when you have enough capital to do so.

8. Learn as fast as you can.

Read books. Watch TED talks. Ask for help. The only thing stopping you from getting to the next level is what you know. A founder who learns fast can get further than a more resourced founder.

9. Say thank you a lot.

Acknowledge people for their specific achievements. People who work for you are trying hard in the best way that they can, and gratitude is always appreciated. Sincere gratitude is, sadly it seems, rare.

10. Don’t give up.

The truth is, you’re going to fail a lot - it’s just part of the process. You aren’t a failure. You’re just growing and learning and taking things one day at a time. Keep going and be proud of how far you’ve already come.