Meet Kristen Soltis Anderson, a JLW member who founded her research and analysis firm, Echelon Insights, authored “The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America and How Republicans Can Keep Up,” and was named as one of TIME Magazine’s “30 Under 30 Changing the World” in 2013, among other national accolades in the last few years. Read on to learn about her challenges, how much she values female mentors, and some clutch advice for any other aspiring business owners.
You’ve had such a successful professional life – even before you started Echelon Insights. Was it hard getting your business started?
The first struggle was the fear of not feeling like I even knew how to get started, like what are the things you need to do to start a company? Get a Tax ID number, pick a name…and then what? I didn't want to jump in until it felt like I had a firm grasp on every little thing involved in running a business.
How did the experience help you grow as a leader?
I had to learn to let go a little – to be diligent and responsible – but be willing to take risks and to venture into territory where I didn't have experience already.
As a mentor to other women who aspire to start their own business, what advice would you give?
Talk to others who have done it before, and find at least one person to whom you can pose questions that you are too embarrassed to ask anywhere else. I had many questions early on that I thought, "Oh, surely, everyone already knows the answer to this, and asking will just make me look dumb," when really, you're not alone.
How has your League involvement benefited you personally or professionally?
Being involved in the League helped me build relationships with women in a variety of different industries and to learn about fields I knew very little about! I also learned a lot about nonprofit board service. Serving on the JLW Board was one of my first experiences learning the ins and outs of the duties of serving on such a board and helped prepare me for roles on other boards.
What does it mean to you to have strong female role models?