THE WORLD NEEDS MORE POWERFUL BUSINESS WOMEN
Interview by Dr Marina Nani
Edited by Laura Amherst
HOW A BEAUTIFUL DUTCH GIRL CREATES A BETTER REALITY FOR WOMEN
You might have heard that Dutch women are the most beautiful women in the world. We went behind the scenes to find our how they become powerful business women. Last year we sponsored The Wintrade Week in London and I’ve met Tineke Rensen who was a keynote speaker. What strucked me while listening to her wasn’t necessarily her elegance, even it was difficult to ignore it, but her beauty within. Tineke was talking about learning from men how to work together, how to focus, how to do goal setting, how to stick to a plan, how to budget and focus on money without losing your femininity. At that point I realised that she is a woman on a mission, and we have to work together to help more women become create and run powerful businesses.
We followed Tineke Rensen for almost a year now, and since she launched three chapters of the Powerful Business Women’s Network in Zurich, London and Amsterdam. She kindly agreed to be the cover girl for Sovereign Magazine and share not only her story with our readers but her vision for a world that needs more powerful women who own a successful business.
Here is Tineke Rensen’ story
I am the first-born child and have a younger sister. We had quite a hard upbringing and did not have a lot of money, as my dad suffered an injury on a moped that left him unable to work for many years. He started drinking as a result and our home life was very turbulent. Despite this, I still have great memories of my childhood.
My main passion has always been sports. I started attending a gymnastics club that opened in my village and when I was 12, I then had the opportunity to go to a better club in another city and develop myself as an athlete, but unfortunately my parents did not have a car at the time and felt too proud to ask for any help. I found out from a young age that you can only depend on yourself to achieve something. Nevertheless, I remained at the gymnastics club and was still very talented. I won many competitions but was never able to break through to the national level, and it was there that this particular dream ended.
As I got older and had to choose what I was going to study, I chose to study sports and physical education. The main reason was because I wished to become a gymnastics trainer. I decided if I could not become a national champion myself, I would train other girls to so. Back then there was stiff competition; about 80 people got chosen out of a thousand each year! Everybody told me not to try, but there was nothing else I wanted to do so I applied. I got through a few rounds to the lottery, but I was still deemed not good enough yet to get a place. I heard about the rule that when you apply three times and every time you reach the lottery stage they award you a spot it shows determination. So that was my plan.
As I moved from middle school to higher education, it was challenging and I had to study a lot. I was only there so I could wait for my third time to apply, and the second time I also made it through, and I got a ticket to start. And so, I was 17 and I had to move out of my house, and I felt like it was the biggest achievement ever; I had a chance to start a new life. When I left my mum filed for divorce and I found out she was only staying for me and my sister. Mum moved into shared accommodation, and it was a rough time, as I started the challenge of a new life and not having the safe haven to go back to.
I studied sports for three years and learned both new sports and many skills in the process. During my internship in recreational sport I went to the Belgian Ardennes to do outdoor and survival sports, such as rock climbing, white water kayaking and abseiling. It was a life changing experience. I learned what real friendship was about, and the couple that ran the white-water kayaking became my role models. I kept going back for trips until I passed my exams and officially became a PE teacher. I soon realized that I could make money through my skiing and kayaking and it wasn’t much but it gave me the opportunity to spend around 5 months outdoors practicing and improving my ability in both sports.
When I was 29, I applied for the national team mogul skiing in The Netherlands and I was selected. My hope of becoming a national champion was renewed. I was invited to compete at the Dutch Championships hosted in Switzerland, and I had high hopes that I could become champion. The track was very difficult, and I ended up falling and breaking my thumb, and had to be transported home by ambulance. It was such a sad day. Whilst this was happening, I was teaching outdoor and survival sports for a company in Luxembourg but decided to leave because of the safety standards and this led me to make the decision of started my own business.
I initially bought five kayaks and I strapped them to the roof of my car, and I used to take people to Belgium. When the business grew, I took friends of mine to instruct alongside me and we had a great time. I was discovering how to find clients on my own and got some valuable help with bookkeeping from a mentor, who I learnt a great deal from. My business grew steadily, and in the summer we started moving everything to Italy. I sold my programs to the tour operator that I was working for in the winter as a ski guide. I never realized I was doing something extraordinary! I was doing business in multiple countries employing people. I was just doing what I loved with people who loved it too.
I met my husband through white-water kayaking, a Dutch man who I met in Turkey with some friends, but he did not become a part of the business as it was not making enough money for the both of us, as there were dry periods in winter where I had little to no income. I became pregnant and had to employ an admin to take on some of my responsibilities as I juggled my business and pregnancy. It was at this point I felt like a real business owner because now somebody other than me depended on the income I provided. When my first daughter was born I had to move my office out of the house, this was another big step and again I felt the sense that this adventure I had gone on of doing something I loved and felt passionate about was now something much more concrete and serious.
I started to build up more equipment and eventually had to rent a bigger space. My business grew steadily every year. I had no loans from the bank or outside financial help, I grew the business only with the money it that it generated. In my last year, we operated in 5 locations during the summer and 25 people were working for me. I felt very proud, I had built this by myself and it was a resounding success. In the meantime, Freestyle Kayaking was born!
When our first daughter was born, she came along on all our trips. We would be camping in the wild most of the time, so I bathed her in a bucket. All three of us would sleep in the van, we had a truly amazing time. When she was sleeping in the pram near the river, we were training. We drove all over Europe to compete in competitions and I became better and better. It is no wonder that when a national team for this new sport was created I was immediately elected. And it was then I remembered my old dream of becoming a Dutch champion. Was it finally possible? Would it be third time lucky? When we had the Dutch championships in France, I was very excited. I was the oldest competitor, and the only mother and the rest were young girls, but my mindset was the best. We had never seen each other kayaking before and there was a huge pressure to perform and guess what, I became the national champion at the age of 38!
What inspired you to create your business?
My first business was in outdoor sports and I decided to sell it after 22 years as I was not growing anymore as a person and wanted a new business challenge. I started to learn an array of skills in entrepreneurship such as online marketing, public speaking and social media for businesses. After a while, I started teaching business owners to help them to grow their own businesses. I loved working with men because I always had been a tomboy, but I faced some challenges where I was not taken seriously, and I switched to working with more women as a result. I soon found out that women were keeping themselves small in business for several reasons, and I challenged them too much as I saw through their excuses. But I was not growing my business the way I wanted, I was not happy with my income and was not achieving my goals. And I was not used to this at all. I was having problems marketing and selling myself and was still having problems with mentoring women. My personal coach asked me the question one day, “Is it possible that you avoid the feminine part inside of you?” Could my coach be right? In my opinion what I saw from women was weak and I did not want to be weak. Could it be that what seemed weak to me, was being realistic? That what I called excuses was being self-aware? Did I need to be so harsh on myself all the time and believe that failure was not an option? But I did have a huge advantage. I had learnt to focus, to do goal setting, to stick to a plan, to budget and focus on money too. I practiced thinking fast and implementing quickly, and to go through the fear instead of listening to my insecurities. I realised that a lot of business women were not as successful as they wanted to be because they lacked these skills, and I found that there were certain ways that women liked to work that worked against more traditional business models, yet were very valuable, such as working together, keeping everybody involved and not only being focused on money!
And then everything changed for me. I encountered many powerful and successful businesswomen who had integrated the masculine and feminine very well. When I stopped seeing businesswomen and the way they do business as being less successful I could start to help them, and they accepted my help. I also saw that life was lonely for many of these strong and powerful businesswomen. They did not have many role models, and they had to find out their own way like I had to do for twenty-two years. And I thought what a waste of potential. Why not create a way where they can all meet and where they can support and help each other? So I started the Powerful Business Women’s Network where like-minded women can meet online and at events. We now have three groups: in the Netherlands, in Switzerland, and in the United Kingdom.
What problems are you solving?
I work with business women who have reached a plateau. I help them learn new skills, and I mentor them to implement new strategies, but most importantly I am a soundboard for my women. No matter how successful they are they can still be insecure because they feel the pressure of making the right decisions for everyone involved. I also help them to learn the typical masculine skills without having to use the masculine behaviour. It is such an eye-opener for my clients when they can see that their beliefs about business are driven by masculine behaviour and rules, which are not serving businesswomen at all.
How does it work?
I coach, train and mentor them one on one and I often zoom in with specific trainings on various matters where women can grow their business. I love to serve women. I believe in helping them grow their businesses so they can impact a lot of people. I developed a model that I use during my sessions and this model is called the “Blueprint for a Successful Business Makeover”. I have not met a woman in business yet who is facing issues I have not faced, or that one of my clients has not faced yet. There is always a solution. But it is not always me coming up with the solution when working with a client. I believe when we start working, a flow starts developing and synchronization evolves. And in these moments my client can come up with the best solutions herself. If women first want to get to know me, they can also buy my book. “Maximum Business Growth for Women, 8 Secrets from a National Champion to Accelerate your Business”
My business is called Powerful Business Academy. It is only for powerful business people and preferably women.
Who are the people that could benefit?
Serious business women who want to scale up and are willing to work on their business instead of in their business. Who also want to work on themselves, because a business can only grow as big as its business owner is. My work is always about personal and business growth.
What are the challenges to make the public aware of your work?
To make them aware is not the issue, branding nowadays is very easy with free social media. But how to stand out and have my potential clients pick up the phone and call me is another story. I have various ways to find new clients.
I love to give presentations. Being on stage has always been something I love to do. To be able to reach out to as many people as possible at the same time and having a connection with them is amazing. With email marketing I could reach so much more people, but I feel there is no connection with my tribe when I send an email.
I offer a discovery session with me. I created a video funnel on Facebook, with a lot of videos. We target the businesswomen who have seen my videos and they will get an invitation to have a free talk with me. This is only for the very serious ones because I cannot talk to everybody who wants to talk to me, although I would love to. From every conversation I learn and in every conversation, I am able to contribute to a person’s life or business. Both things make me happy!
A offer a very good online questionnaire for business women. (https://www.powerfulbusinessacademy.com/free-next-level-consultation)
It takes time for them to fill in the answers, but when they do make this effort, they will get immediate insight into their business and the challenges they are facing at that moment. And I can also get a sense for the ones who are most determined to succeed and I reward them with a free one on one conversation.
One of my gifts to business women is a Free download with exceptional content. I found out that in my country, The Netherlands, there wasn’t that much statistical information about women in business and what their challenges are. I decided gathered information of nearly 400 businesswomen. All the questions are in a report which is available for free to anyone who needs it (https://www.powerfulbusinessacademy.com/e-book).
I made available the most recent updates about my work.
And now the Powerful Business Women’s Network, introduces many powerful businesswomen in this edition of Sovereign Magazine. Some of these women are already part of my network, others I work with closely and I have much respect and appreciation for their business acumen. I am very proud to share their stories and achievements with you on the pages that follow. It is a beautiful achievement where women get the recognition they deserve in the business arena. Often our businesses are not as big as those of men, and often we don’t promote ourselves as much as men. But that does not mean that we are not out there. I advocate for bringing a new way of doing business where there is as much attention for the feminine approach- a fresh approach that is needed very much in today’s world.
Who is one person you admire most and why?
I am a big fan of Walt Disney. When my children were young, we travelled to the States to Orlando quite a few times. We visited the parks and went on many Disney cruises. It was always an amazing experience. Like making dreams come true and that is exactly their motto. ‘If you can dream it you can do it .’ That is my favourite quote from Disney. Together with the belief that you don’t need to know exactly how you are going to achieve it, accompanied with the trust that somehow you will meet the right people at the right moment you can really achieve everything. I am not a fan to set SMART business goals at all. That is very masculine. Women only need to trust, believe that they can somehow manage it, and have faith that the solutions will come when the time is right.
Why do you believe it is important to be part of a women’s network?
Women have a different way of communicating than men. They also have a different way of doing business. They love to help others and connect, and they want to belong to something; they like to create together. Women go to a deeper level of conversation very quickly and we can talk about a variety of important meaningful things together.
Why do you believe it is important for women to support each other?
It’s not just our communication, we also have a different way of doing business than men. So, we understand much better what works for us and what doesn’t. Many of our businesses are too small to be noticed. So, women need a lot more help and support to grow because it is still a very masculine thing to do so - but we can and we shall. It is when we support and help each other instead of competing or being jealous of each other or judging each other that female-owned businesses will truly thrive. And that is needed in the world because women have so many qualities to bring to business. This is why women should support each other!
We all agree we need more women in politics, we all agree we need more women in boardrooms. Well, I am a fierce supporter of having bigger female-owned businesses. And I will do whatever I can to help achieve this. Many women in this magazine are stepping up and are proud to talk about their business and their stories, without bragging because that is not what women like to do. But we can (and should) be proud as hell to!
Come along to meet The Powerful Business Women’s Network
in London on 28 January 2018
Do you run a business ? We want to hear your story!