Author: Ana Mihail is Chief Inspiration Officer at the Maastricht Centre for Entrepreneurship and Maastricht Geekettes Ambassador.
Maastricht Geekettes held its first event and launch party on 11 March, welcoming young women interested in the field of technology and entrepreneurship.
An initiative created in February 2012 to help aspiring and established tech innovators, Geekettes has been opening new chapters across the world, from New York to London and Portugal. In Maastricht, the launch party featured successful local entrepreneur Nicoline Wisse Smit, founder of Wis&Waarachtig communications.
Touching upon many interesting points about what it takes to make it as a woman entrepreneur, Wisse Smit inspired the audience to take action and gave interesting insights into her business development experience.
In an interview with the Geekettes team, Nicoline shared her impressions on the Geekettes initiative and some advice to young starting entrepreneurs:
Thank you for being our very first speaker at the Launch Party of Maastricht Geekettes! What are your first impressions of this initiative? Do you think young women entrepreneurs need additional support to start?
I experienced an energetic group eager to learn, contribute and share. No doubt that they highly appreciate the initiative. That is what counts!
You are a role model for many women entrepreneurs in Maastricht. Could you share with us a few insights on how you started? Any new interesting projects coming up?
I started W&W to be able to do what I like to do and to do what I do best. After over 12 years of entrepreneurship, my motivation hasn’t changed. I always enjoy doing what I do best, making a difference by contributing to the success of others.
Recently we produced content for five connected websites. This was a challenging project because of the interaction between the sites. I like the discipline of SEO copywriting. Effective SEO copywriting requires a good understanding of the message you want to communicate and the conversion you like to take place on the website. You need to understand the expectations and behaviour of the website visitors and the way the search engines ‘read’ a website.
And yes, we have some interesting projects coming up but until contracts are signed, we keep upcoming work to ourselves. However, on waarachtig.nl you can find an overview of projects we have worked on in the past. They will give you insights into what we do and what to expect in the future.
What is the secret, according to you, to achieving outstanding results?
If you want to achieve outstanding results, keep on challenging yourself, interact with people and keep in touch with your feelings. Your feelings never mislead you! Believe in yourself!
Do you think women face different challenges when starting their entrepreneurial career?
I don’t think that there really is a difference, even though research shows that women tend to be more insecure. It is important to believe in yourself and in the business you are running. If you are insecure or in doubt, why should others believe in your product/service or even consider buying it?
Besides, I believe women have an advantage: our intuition. Make use of it and learn from men at the same time. They move on, while we keep on analysing, talking and reflecting. Sometimes you just have to get over it to move on. Men do understand that better. They don’t let their feelings interfere that much. Use your intuition, but don’t get stuck in your feelings.
Do you have a role model, favourite writer? Who is your top influencer?
Just like when I just started my business I am making use of a coach at the moment. My coach makes me wonder about the way I approach things. Getting a better understanding of myself helps me grow my intuition even more. It also helps me to stay focused. For now I think this coach is my top influencer, although in the end, she’s only my mirror.
Last but not least, if there were one thing you could recommend to another woman entrepreneur, what would it be?
Do what you like to do and trust in yourself. Be aware that you have a great team of advisers around you: your friends and family. They know you best and don’t even have to understand your business to advice you. Besides, they are your best ambassadors.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview! We hope to see more driven women entrepreneurs here and wish you best of luck with your current and future projects!