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Spotlight on Walden // Oct 22, 2014

Inspiring Women to Become Successful Entrepreneurs

When it comes to entrepreneurship, Nely Galán knows what it takes to succeed. After rising to the top of the corporate world as the first Latina president of Telemundo, a U.S. television network, she left to become a self-made media mogul and women’s empowerment advocate. As the founder of The Adelante (Move Forward!) Movement, Ms. Galán is dedicated to inspiring other women to achieve in business. Here, she offers a preview of the insights she’ll share on Thursday, Nov. 6, as she joins Walden University’s Dr. Yvonne Doll, faculty member in the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program to present “Top 10 Questions to Consider Before Starting Your Own Business,” a free webinar sponsored by Walden and The Adelante Movement.

What challenges do women face in the business world?

It’s hard for women to enter and stay in the corporate world, particularly in a bad economy. Is it possible for women to move up the corporate ladder? Yes, it is, but there aren’t many women in emerging businesses and markets. There is also the idea that women in business should be more aggressive. But for a lot of women, especially minorities and, in particular, Latinas, this is culturally very difficult. It’s not how we’re raised.

Why did you decide to focus on empowering female entrepreneurs, especially Latinas, through The Adelante Movement?

I wrote my dissertation about Latinas in the United States and realized a movement was growing among Latinas around entrepreneurship and empowerment. I felt a great need to help them become entrepreneurs and learn best practices of business. Women were starting businesses but taking longer to open them because they didn’t have access to the right information. This was the genesis of The Adelante Movement. In my travels around the world, I’ve seen that entrepreneurship is a new paradigm for women everywhere. They’re discovering it’s a way to live a traditional life while making money.

What attributes or motivations lead to success as an entrepreneur?

You need a desire for a better life and to be an owner. You also have to be someone who perseveres—you will hit roadblocks. By nature, people who are entrepreneurs are seekers. They want to learn and grow. They’re also motivated to achieve a financial future that can, in many cases, be much greater than they may find in a corporate setting.

What is the most important advice you have for prospective entrepreneurs?

First, ask yourself if you’re ready. Maybe you want to start something on the side but stay in your current job. With all the digital platforms available now, women can start businesses not only in their own homes, but from anywhere. Second, do your research. Is anyone else doing what you want to do? Use your network of friends, family, and neighbors to see if the idea will resonate. Learn about entrepreneurship to feel comfortable that it’s right for you. Join a group of women. You have to find like-minded people who will support you.

What role does higher education play in helping women become successful entrepreneurs?

Going back to school made me feel complete, yet so many women are blocked in their education by circumstances beyond their control. In the case of Latinas, many of us have to start work early in life to support our families (which usually include grandparents, parents, and siblings). Others take on the more traditional role of wife and mother. Fortunately, the world of online education has transformed our opportunities. It gives women the option to take classes without feeling they’re abandoning their personal and professional responsibilities.

What can other women interested in becoming entrepreneurs learn from your experience?

Running a successful business involves a lot of details, and sometimes people are afraid to ask the questions that are really important. This can end up being the difference between succeeding and giving up. The biggest mistake most of us make is not having proper funding to start a business. I think you need two or three years of savings. I didn’t make any money for four years before I realized my business plan was wrong and had to reboot.

What advice can you give women about balancing entrepreneurship with a satisfying personal life?

During the first years of your business, you won’t have a lot of balance. However, in the long term, managing your schedule is the only way to achieve balance. When it’s your own business, you can go to your child’s game and then go home and work until 11 p.m. Balance comes with success. The first few years are hard, but then you have knowledge and experience you can take with you anywhere and no one can ever take that away from you. Once you’ve learned all the lessons, you can apply them in any industry.

To learn about “Top 10 Questions to Consider Before Starting Your Own Business,” please go to

Walden also offers business and management programs to help budding entrepreneurs with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed. For more information, visit