Serial entrepreneur Sharon Kan is on a mission to help moms learn entrepreneurial skills and create lucrative microbusinesses with her new platform, Pepperlane. A four-time founder and three-time CEO with four exits to her name, Sharon talks about what is inspiring her, and she puts on the “Advice Wings” about how to “let go” our fears, and embrace the adventure of entrepreneurship.
Melinda Wittstock: Welcome to Wings Sharon.
Sharon Kan: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here today.
Melinda Wittstock: I am excited to talk to you too and I love to start these minisodes with what your biggest inspiration is as we really kick off 2018.
Sharon Kan: Oh, wow. That’s a good one.
Melinda Wittstock: Okay.
Sharon Kan: One inspiration that I truly have is that I think this is the year of the woman and that’s not … Not surprising right? It’s not a surprise to you I’m sure. But what I mean by that is that what I’d like to … What really inspires me in 2018 is that we already have … woman are waking up and now the question what are we going to do about it? And my inspiration is to lead with hope and help women figure how to move on, go create, go innovate ’cause we’re so talented. So I … You know it’s enough with the talking, let’s do.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. Let’s just roll up our sleeves and get on with it and that’s-
Sharon Kan: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: And that’s a lovely segue into the challenges. What are some of the lingering challenges we still face as we entrepreneur?
Sharon Kan: Female entrepreneurs-
Melinda Wittstock: It’s challenging for every entrepreneur all the time, right? Men and women but-
Sharon Kan: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: What are some of the special challenges that you’ve found in your entrepreneurial career?
Sharon Kan: I think that sometimes we get stuck. We get stuck with who we are and how society’s viewing us, and there’s the old model. Right? Women have still … We as entrepreneurs, we have to climb up and we have to climb the ladder and we have to prove more, and sometimes we tell this story in our head, “Oh, you know what? He or she probably are not going to help me.” Or, “You know what? I’m working so hard, it will never happen.” And I would say be open to a new model. This is for me, my resolution for 2018 go create new models, ’cause we don’t have role models. As female entrepreneurs, my mentors … the ones that took a chance on me were men. Right?
Melinda Wittstock: Me too.
Sharon Kan: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: Me too, and that’s one of the reasons I started this podcast.
Sharon Kan: Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: Because there’s so many of us succeeding kind of in silence, right?
Sharon Kan: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: And so how can we as women show up and mentor and really lift up the women coming … well the women around us right now, the women who are older than us, the women who are younger than us-
Sharon Kan: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: All across the spectrum.
Sharon Kan: Yeah. So be open. Be open to create new models, don’t be stuck. What was in the past doesn’t mean it will be in the future. That’s what I’m learning. So I’m creating my own new model of how to be successful.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. So it’s so true what you say about a lot of these problems are kind of in our heads.
Sharon Kan: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s a like a mindset issue, and so with that what are your top three go to pieces of advice for a woman who is either starting an entrepreneurial career or in the thick of it with a start up right now trying to grow and scale it, maybe even take it to exit?
Sharon Kan: All right. So number one, let it go. Let it go, right? Maybe you had the worst meeting of your life, maybe you had a bad day, maybe things at home are not always aligned with how you want to pursue your business. There are so many obstacles; it doesn’t mean it’s not the right time. Just let it go, move on. I mean that would be my first advice. The second one is be open for adventures and that’s where I’d like to motivate women not to follow the models that we have today or we had in the past. It’s if you’re willing to be more open for adventures, you will see that the opportunities will come your way. So be open, even if it’s not the path that you learned in business school, even if it’s not the path that your mother taught you, even if it’s not the path that your boss was telling you what to do. You’re going to be your own teacher, by letting adventures come into your life.
If you’re willing to be more open for adventures, you will see that the opportunities will come your way. #WingsPodcast #WomeninBusinessClick to tweet
Melinda Wittstock: I love that.
Sharon Kan: And the third thing is be kind. Lead with kindness. What I think we’re missing so much, especially with … Well you live in D.C., you experienced that. You really live and breathe that, you live in that area at least. Lead with kindness. We are missing leaders that lead with kindness and love, and what you will see is you can be kind and extremely successful. Right? And I urge … By being kind, women to help other women and I don’t mean just by saying that. I mean by go and do that. Right? Did you open a door for another woman? I mean that’s the only way we’re going to change this world, only if we do it ourselves.
Melinda Wittstock: Beautifully said. So Sharon, how can people find you and tell us also a little bit about Pepperlane because this of course is very much around your mission, empowering mothers to start and grow their own businesses. And so how can women find you and work with you?
Be open, even if it’s not the path that you learned in business school, even if it’s not the path that your mother taught you, even if it’s not the path that your boss was telling you what to do. You’re going to be your own teacher, by letting adventures come into your life. #WingsPodcast #WomeninBusiness Click to tweet
Sharon Kan: So please join our community. Pepperlane is place for mothers to start their businesses. We are helping mothers and we’re providing them all the tools they need to start, build and grow their businesses around the country. And you can find me on … if you email me to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to respond to all of your requests. I mentored over 150 women during my career and I loved doing that, and Pepperlane is the opportunity for me to meet with mothers across the country and really help them to see the opportunity have a new way of making an income. They don’t need to be part of the work force, they don’t need to stay at home. They can just start their own business and that’s what we’re doing on Pepperlane. We’re helping them and teaching them how to do that.
Melinda Wittstock: So inspiring. Thank you Sharon for joining us on Wings today.
Sharon Kan: Thank you very much for having me.