The Daily Muse targets a tremendously under-served demographic: confident women who want insightful articles and career advice written just for them, who are fed up with the Cosmo diet of sex tips and how to drop a dress size.
Vault spoke with CEO Kathryn Minshew to get a better understanding of the decision to create The Daily Muse, the reasons behind leaving McKinsey, and the difficulties of running a new business in a bad economy. Her story is discussed in Part II of a special Q & A below (catch up on Part I here):
Q: How is it now that you own your own business?
A: There are so many challenges, but I’ve never loved anything more. One thing that really keeps me going is that I am responsible for several employees for the first time in my life. There’s a lot of responsibility in that–my actions affect another person’s paycheck and livelihood.
Q: Is it hard getting by in this economy?
A: The economy has been a great thing for The Daily Muse. More and more individuals are focusing on improving their careers. Companies that used to hire so frequently have now cut back, so we have access to an incredible amount of talent. For those who can survive in a down economy, it’s an incredible opportunity to get stronger and to hire top talent. We consider ourselves lucky to be doing what we’re doing.
Q: What have you learned from this experience?
A: It’s very important that before you start a business with partners, you define your roles up front. Before The Daily Muse, I co-founded and ran a company called PYP. It was founded by a group of four women and we were initially equal partners, but it was difficult to make decisions, from whether to use teal or purple on the site or whether to hire or fire an individual. We never decided and formalized who among us who had the final call, and it was one of the factors that contributed to our failure. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to work with my cofounders and team at The Daily Muse. We have a clear chain of command, but we also know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly. Melissa is the Editor-in-Chief and has authority over content and the editorial message. She’s brilliant at content. Alex is the detail-oriented, get-it-done one of us, so she manages product and coordinates us internally. And as CEO, I am responsible for the public perception of the company, as well as our relationships with partners and investors. By providing a clear structure, we’re able to make decisions quickly and effectively. A business runs better this way.
Q: What does the future hold?
A: I plan to keep running The Daily Muse for a long time. I have never been so passionate about something before, though I’m seeing some of the toughest days of my life, as well as some of the best. I am happy we were able to fill a gap in the market for smart, confident women looking to get ahead at work. This is their community and every day we find more people who tell us, “I heard about you via Facebook or Twitter or through a friend; I can’t believe I didn’t find you sooner.” We’ve developed this brand for them.
Q: And what advice do you have to give for others?
A: If you want to try something new, start with a small step. Don’t leap head-first if you’re the type of person who would rather test the waters first. Volunteer with an organization; work part-time at night or on weekends. These are great ways to experience a new industry and learn a new skill set. Once you know what you want, it’s a lot easier to make that jump. Those that say they aren’t scared are deceiving themselves. Everyone questions whether they are making the right decision, especially when your career is involved. You need to assess where you are and where you should be, and what it is that’s holding you back. A smart professional is always engaged and is always prepared to take the next move. Smart professionals are not passive. They do not wait for opportunities. Make your own opportunities.
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--Jon Minners, Vault.com