#BOSSLADY: IBU IRMA SUSTIKA

The Rosé team recently interviewed Ibu Irma Sustika the founder of Womanpreneur, a community dedicated to inspire and educate women entrepreneurs. As a new startup ourselves, we took notes as she dished on her keys to success and her secret to running this non-profit organization whilst still juggling her role as a mother at home. Her current mission is to have a million women entrepreneurs graduate from her course and be successful in male-dominated industries. Wow, right?

Can you tell us about how you started Womanpreneur?

I was working as a banker for almost 20 years. In 2006, I resigned from my job and tried to focus on my family while growing my own business. Womanpreneur started as a Facebook group with only three members. We shared everything there – our experiences, tips and tricks, business ideas and of course to introduce our products. Eventually the number of members grew and in 2010 I officially made a community for Indonesian women, and that is how Womanpreneur formed now with more than 13.000 members.

How do you help women through the Womanpreneur community?

I created this community as a place for women who want to be or are already entrepreneurs to improve their business skills and have the facility to grow their businesses. I want them to have the education and strong foundation on how to build their career successfully. We encourage women to join forces and become stronger together with their knowledge and experiences combines.

Womanpreneur help its members to develop entrepreneurial and professional skills, attain visibility and acknowledgement in the business world and provide support to their businesses. The organization provides skills training courses, tapping into our own graduated members, as well as sourcing other experts.

We have a program called the Incubator Business – a four month coaching program which aims to help those who want to start their own business. We teach them how to run a business from making a plan, identifying their market, determining costs, establishing a budget, branding, advertising to actually selling their products. We provide bazaars in shopping malls to give them a chance to sell their product to real customers. So far we already have ten batches of graduates from this program, a total of 500 women all across Indonesia.

What are your biggest obstacles and how do you overcome them?

For me, there is no challenge that is too big to overcome. It’s all in your mind. If you think you will face many obstacles, then you will have them. And if you think you will have a hard time overcoming it, then a hard time is what you're really going to get. So for me, I always try to think positive and be confident in everything that I do. Yes, starting and growing a business is not an easy job – if it was easy, you will see many successful people right now. So my suggestion is don’t be afraid of failures. Massive failures equates to having massive successes once you overcome them. You may get a hundred turn downs just to get one "yes", but that one "yes" will make you more successful tomorrow than you are today. The key to success is to be relentless and never give up on your dreams because just like the saying - when there is a will, there is a way.

Why do you think is it so important to support women specifically?

To be honest, I started because I was so angry with my fellow friends who think that they couldn't make it in the business field and decided not to even try. Women tend to underestimate their own potential and need to be encouraged to actually see what they can achieve.

As a woman, we are given the role to take care of chores at home, but we are also capable to support our families just as well as men are able to. We don’t know what will happen in the near future – what if your husband is ill or he isn't doing well with his job? What if your parents can no longer support you? In this case, we are the ones who need to step up and help the family mentally, physically and financially. We are the life boat of the mothership. So, this is why I chose to support women to gain confidence and be their own entrepreneurs, because there is nothing we can't do when we put our minds to it.

And what are your thoughts on women entrepreneurs today?

I see a big rise in woman-owned startups, a very encouraging trend. In the last few years, I saw many highly educated women leaving the corporate life to spend more time raising children and having an online business on the side. Now younger women, some fresh out of college, are leveraging their creativity and design skills to come up with fashion related products and services. Women are now making the choice to start their own businesses in their own creative fields. I hope to see women own and manage bigger businesses and be able to compete internationally.

How do you find balance with work and raising a family?

Work will always be there and it will always find you. So the most important thing is to find balance between work and your life at home. You have to be able to separate the two and make office hours, office hours. When you are home, be a 100% there for your children and just take time for yourself.

What advice would you give to women who want to start their own business?

You have to know yourself first. Know what you want and understand your own potential to make the most out of it.  If you want to start your own business, it’s not about the fund or how much the profit you will get, but it’s all about you and what you want to do. Explore yourself and find the confidence within to start. Also you have to get out there and do some networking – make a name and make yourself known! Because doing business without networking is impossible. And of course it’s hard work too, nothing comes without sacrifice and hard work. Be prepared to face difficult situations and celebrate every small and big successes. It’s important that you enjoy the ride otherwise it will be very painful and you’ll be exhausted in a matter of months.

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To learn more and be a part of the Womanpreneur Community, just sign up on their website.

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