Build more pools of mentors who commit to women entrepreneurs — this is part of the model we use at NextGen Venture Partners. Women founders need mentors from the earliest of stages to build and refine ideas, pitch to prospective investors, build boards and advisory boards, recruit and lead teams of product developers, sales, marketing.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Caren Merrick.


Take no for an answer. If you can take no for an answer, then you can quickly move on and apply your time to other things. When starting out, it’s very easy to get into the mindset that you need to apply for everything, talk to everyone and anyone, and go all in. in doing that, you’ll come up against resistance because your business isn’t for everyone. If an investor or funding body says no, then accept it and learn from it, then move on.


Passion. If your heart isn’t into what you’re doing, what’s the point? As an entrepreneur, you’ll undeniably experience some low points — and passion is the light at the end of the tunnel that keeps you going. Some of the most successful people I know owe a lot of their success to their sheer determination, drive, and passion.


There is a Japanese proverb, which I think reflects the mindset of an entrepreneur: “Nana korobi, ya oki.” It means, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” So, never give up hope, and always strive for more.


A positive outlook on life. I believe that a good leader of a company will find the positive in any situation. The pandemic came to mind when we realized we could not go back to our New York City office. The entire company — 75+ people — transitioned to work from home; we took the opportunity to double down on our virtual technology, thus reinventing the virtual meeting.


Be patient. Founders are often not patient enough. To build a successful company, you need years, sometimes decades. If you accept this and set your sights 30–50 years ahead, you will be less stressed about small project failures or the lack of quick success.

I was once very impatient about achieving success. Living in Singapore and traveling around South-East Asia, I’ve since learned about Asian patience, and it’s very different from our Western culture. Now, I take things easier than before and dislike the get-rich-quick approach. As Naval Ravikant recommends: Get rich slow! …


Photo Credit: Stuart Locklear Photography

Last, when it gets unbearably tough, just keep going one step at a time. When I feel like I want to quit, I run one phrase through my mind like a mantra. It’s adapted from a Robert Frost poem: “The only way out is through.” To me, it means putting one foot in front of the other, take one day at a time, break things down into tiny micro-steps and just keep going. You’ll get through it.


A mindset practice. I credit my mindset practice for my ability to be tenacious, resilient, and consistent. We’re all human and experience the full spectrum of human emotions, and if we don’t take the time each day to check in with how we feel, it can be easy for those feelings to overflow into our businesses and cloud our decision-making. My mindset practice, which predominantly consists of time at the beach or in nature, journaling, and meditation, centers and grounds me for the day ahead and allows me to show up as the CEO I most want to be.


And finally, I’d say trust the process of putting processes in place at a company that enables you to ride the lows. I mean, the highs are always great, right? Everything’s going great. It’s really the lows when you need a strategy in place. You know, when we do crisis communications here and we tell our clients to have a plan in place before the crisis happens. That’s something I recommend to every company and founder. Just have a plan in place, have a process in place that helps you get through those lows.


Patience and Grace. The entrepreneurial journey is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to give yourself patience and grace in every area of your business. When I pivoted to a B2B model it took some getting used to because decisions didn’t come instantly. You have to keep in mind more people are involved in the decision-making process and there’s more “red tape”. Corporate business takes time and it’s a process that I learned when my first contract took three months to solidify deal.

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