Holly is a marketing expert and an entrepreneur with experience in categories that include technology, manufacturing, renewable energy, consumer packaged goods, and apparel. She has worked at big companies like Morgan Stanley and Levi Strauss and she has owned her own successful marketing company. She has achieved an incredible sense of self-worth and satisfaction from her career. Shes created Bright Girls because she thinks every girl should know how to be business savvy and financially independent.
Full name: Holly Lichtenfeld
Location: West Palm Beach, Florida
Title & company: Founder, Author, & Girlpreneur, Bright Girls LLC
Education: B.S. Business State University of NY at Albany
Whats your favorite part of work?
I would have to say it’s the creative aspects; writing the book, testing it with my daughter and other girls to see which things get them really excited, developing the illustrations with the illustrator, and creating the activities.
I started my career in very analytical roles.In my early career I was a research analyst and then a GIS (Geographic Information System) analyst. It was at Levi Strauss that I started to tap into my creative side in a big way. Now I love doing both creative and analytical things. But right now I’m especially enjoying the creative parts.
Is there something you dislike doing in your work?
I do not like the bookkeeping and accounting aspects of running a business. That’s an area that I absolutely like to delegate.
What kind of calendar do you keep and how do you plan / organize your to-do list?
At the beginning of each week I write down my overall priorities and then I check my to-do list from the previous week. I update it with what I’ve accomplished and add new items. I love doing this because it gives me a real sense of accomplishment to move things from my active tab to the completed tab on my spreadsheet! Seeing forward progress, even little steps, is very important when you’re an entrepreneur working on a new venture.
Balancing work and personal life is quite important. How and what do you do to make sure it’s balanced?
I work on being in the moment when I’m with my kids, just like I want them to be present when they are spending time with me. For example, when I go to pick them up from school I make sure my phone is away and I am greeting them and focused on them. Before starting Bright Girls I worked for a company on the west coast, so when I went to pick my kids up from aftercare the team at the office was three hours behind me and still in full swing. That meant I would need to check my emails on my phone. My daughter would comment on how I was always on my phone when she came out of school. When I started Bright Girls I vowed to change that behavior. So far, so good!
What advice would you give as a woman to another woman, who is thinking about starting her own company?
To have your big idea but then break it down into smaller things that you can accomplish each day and each week. Don’t let all the things that you have to do to get the business going overwhelm you. If you set yourself up to accomplish things as you go, it will build your self-confidence. You’ll only make the idea a reality through action.
Do you feel like entrepreneur women in tech are able to achieve venture funding more easily than female entrepreneurs who aren’t in technology fields?
Based on my recent experience, technology businesses in general seem to be attractive to more investors than non tech companies, so it would follow that this challenge is present whether the company is run by female or male entrepreneurs.
Whats your advice for other entrepreneurs, who need to market their business with a small budget?
In addition to running Bright Girls I also advise other start-ups. One of the best bits of advice I can give is if you are running an online business be sure your site is performing well in terms of conversion before you put your limited budget into paid advertising. One of the biggest mistakes I see with new entrepreneurs is an anxiousness to drive traffic as soon as their site is built. But if the site isnt converting well, then it’s going to act like a sieve. You drive traffic and then the visitors are gone and so is your money. After looking at their plan and site analytics I recently steered one start-up away from doing the paid campaign they had in mind. I guided them to shift their strategy, and they have had record-breaking sales so far this quarter.
Are you working on any new projects or launching something new that youd like to share with us?
The Bright Girls Kickstarter campaign will be launching this month. I’ll be raising funds to publish the first book in the series called “Your Own Business Can Be Great” it teaches girls invaluable skills like brainstorming, evaluating an idea, networking, marketing and more. These are skills girls will use whether they grow up to start their own businesses or become business leaders at any company. There will also be two other cool items included as part of the Kickstarter backer rewards.
Tell us something interesting that happens behind the scenes of your company?
My 10-year-old daughter gives me feedback on the Bright Girls books and she reviews all the illustrations with me. The first book has some really great additions that were her specific recommendations. She and my husband (who is a bestselling investment book author) both edit my work as well. They turn on track changes in Word and have at it!
Give us some insight on how you raised investments and funds for your business?
I have self-funded Bright Girls. I have had this idea for a while and feel very passionately about making business and finance fun for girls. I have been a successful businesswoman for over 20 years and I have a sound approach to my own finances. I put aside some of the profit from my days of running my marketing company and I’m using that to fund Bright Girls. As I mentioned, I will also be using Kickstarter to fund the publishing of the first book.