Welcome to the virtual book tour!!! We are excited to bring you this wonderful interview with Monique Hayward!
1. You have enjoyed a long, successful career in high technology and along the way decided to start a restaurant business. What inspired you to write this book?
Monique: From my own experience with running a business while managing a career, I wanted to impress upon other women who are thinking about pursuing their dream of entrepreneurship that they need more than conventional wisdom. I felt I needed to provide women entrepreneurs a helping hand and give them a boost up the entrepreneurial ladder.
2. Many business experts and analysts have identified the trends in increasing business ownership among women. Many books have been written about the subject in the past few years. What makes Divas Doing Business different from other books on the market for women entrepreneurs?
Monique: Divas Doing Business complements the traditional how-to guides and “fills the spaces in between” with a fresh, unique angle on entrepreneurship. So many books focus on “success stories” and I have tried to provide a perspective on the “real deal.” In my book, I provide how-to advice combined with experience on the ground and in the trenches that can help them avoid the pitfalls, obstacles, and challenges these women surmounted. I get help from nine pioneering women who pass on their hard-won tribal knowledge and share with aspiring entrepreneurs what it takes to start and manage a business and to see it thrive and succeed.
3. How did you approach Morgan Freeman to write the foreword to Divas Doing Business?
Monique: I approached Morgan Freeman to write the foreword with one simple request: Can you please help me? Morgan is a close business advisor and mentor and he and I have worked on various projects in the past. He was gracious and happy to support me. To continue in this spirit, I’m donating a portion of the book’s sales proceeds to PLAN!T NOW. This is Morgan’s charity that provides assistance, research, and educational programs for individuals, businesses, and communities at risk for hurricanes and coastal storms. Learn more at www.planitnow.org.
4. You have assembled an impressive lineup of women entrepreneurs as contributors who are very well known in their respective industries – media/entertainment, skin care and beauty, casual video games, restaurants, consulting, marketing. How did you select your contributors and approach them to participate in this project?
Monique: While the women entrepreneurs profiled in Divas Doing Business are well known in their industries and have received national recognition, they are not household names like Oprah, Suze, Tyra, or Martha. In other words, if someone is immediately recognizable by her first name, I figured her story has already been told enough times. Readers want to hear about other inspirational women who are inventing breakthroughs, beating their competitors, commanding the respect of their peers, sparking cultural trends and social movements, and successfully running their own businesses, thereby rewriting the rules for women in the working world.
Also, I wanted to ensure that readers can relate their own personal experience to what the entrepreneur has done. For example, readers certainly admire how Oprah Winfrey has turned Harpo Productions into a media powerhouse, but she’s out of reach for most women who are thinking of starting a media company. On the other hand, Divas Doing Business contributor Crystal McCrary Anthony, who’s making a name for herself in media and entertainment as an author, TV personality, and movie producer, can provide a more realistic, closer-to-home example of someone who’s getting it done.
Like with Morgan Freeman, I reached out to these fabulous women with a simple request for them to lend their expertise and knowledge to my book because I thought their stories were compelling and inspirational. I knew a few of them already, and for the others, I simply did a lot of background research to find women whose personal experiences and insights would add tangible proof to the concepts set forth in the book. Everyone was enthusiastic.
5. In your book, you encourage women entrepreneurs to assess what you call their “M Factors” carefully as they’re developing their business plans. What are the “M Factors”?
Monique: As I was creating the business plan for my business, Dessert Noir Café & Bar, I assessed my lifestyle and worked hard to ensure my plans comprehended protecting what I call the “M” factors:
2. Marriage and/or Motherhood
4. Mercedes (or whatever is your “Motor Vehicle”)
5. (Peace of) Mind
I’ve learned in the five years I’ve been on this journey that entrepreneurship will test the strength and stability of each of my Ms, requiring me to absolutely clear about how I’m going to balance what’s important in my life with the demands and rigors of running the business. The Ms are exposed to these demands at various points in time and to different degrees. What I have to do is determine my priorities, negotiate them with my loved ones, and draw the boundaries I don’t want to ever cross.
6. You have a lengthy chapter on raising capital which you call “The Real Deal on Raising Money,” detailing what women entrepreneurs should anticipate with banks, angel investors, and other sources of funding. You advise readers to proceed with caution when pitching their businesses to potential investors in this male-dominated arena as many men are only thinking about “one thing” with a woman, regardless of the situation or circumstances. What has been your experience when seeking capital from would-be male investors?
Monique: As women, we may be confronted by the pre-conceived notion that we are not business-savvy leaders with ventures worthy of investment, and we have to overcome stereotypes in order to make progress toward our goals. Personally, I’ve experienced bias with bankers who relish the power they have over small business owners who need access to credit and “grill” you at every opportunity – e.g., picking out the most esoteric details about your business plan and quizzing you to test your knowledge and confidence in your strategy, creating obstacles and delays to loan applications getting approved. I handle this situation by bringing my “A game” to the table at all times – i.e., having complete command and control of the situation, demonstrating faith and confidence in my ability to express the strategy, and knowing the value of my business and my time.
I’ve also been in situations where would-be investors in my business had a different idea of “fringe benefits.” I thought potential investors, regardless of their gender, would view me with respect and professionalism. As time went on, however, I couldn’t believe what was happening to me in many of these meetings – the up-and-down looks, sexual innuendo, and in some rare instances, outright propositions and advances. I’ve wasted precious time with countless average guys who “kick tires” as if they are going to invest in my business and have absolutely no intention of doing so because they’re treating the situation like “The Dating Game.” They performed their parts as actors on this stage beautifully by asking for executive summaries and financials to evaluate the business, entertaining me at lunch or dinner meetings, visiting the restaurant on several occasions, getting to know me personally, and increasing my confidence and hopes that we may close a deal. Despite my track record of maintaining my business and having a clear vision for my company’s future growth and profitability, they all walked away when they realized that I’m all about business and not their games. In other words, “I’m not sleeping with you, buddy. So unless you’re going to write a check right now, don’t waste my time.” Of course, I say this to myself. In front of them I play the part of the appreciative business owner who’s grateful for their time and consideration. It’s truly unbelievable what women face out here when all we’re trying to do is make our businesses successful.
7. What is the key message that you want to deliver to aspiring women entrepreneurs as they are contemplating going into business for themselves?
Monique: For my fellow divas who are thinking of starting their own business, I strongly encourage you to be clear about your sense of purpose. Our journey as women entrepreneurs can be a long, difficult one, and there will be days when you ask, “Exactly why did I do this to myself?” The stress and anxiety will keep you awake at night because you carry a huge burden most people with whom you interact cannot appreciate or understand. After all, most people don’t have the courage to take the risk that we’re taking and are collecting paychecks at their jobs that they complain about constantly and don’t really like doing.
Your purpose is the light that illuminates the path when you cannot see. When you focus on your purpose, your inspiration for being in business in the first place and stay true to your dream of success, the day-to-day trials and tribulations become easier to manage. I live by this philosophy: God does not give me any more than I can handle, and when I wake up in the morning, I express my gratitude to Him and those who’ve helped me along the way and ask for the strength and guidance to manage my business, make good decisions, and face the challenges without fear or lack of faith and confidence. I can only pay one bill at a time, solve one problem at a time, address one issue at time. Otherwise, I get overwhelmed. You’ll find your own approach that will work for you to keep going.
8. Why did you decide to self-publish to bring this book to market instead of pursuing the traditional publishing route?
Monique: My agent shopped the book proposal around for months and months, but with the recession, publishers shut the door on first-time authors last year and
I could not get a deal. So I’m bringing it to market myself first because I cannot wait any longer. I have something to say now, particularly as the recession leads to more corporate layoffs and women may be considering entrepreneurship as a path to prosperity. Besides, if I can establish that there’s a market for the material, a publisher may pick it up after I’ve proven that it can sell.