Here’s What It’s Really Like to be a Female Startup Founder

Our founder Bianca Cheah gets personal about what International Women's Day means to her.

Bianca Cheah gets personal about what International Women's Day means to her — and dishes on what's going about what's in the Sporteluxe world.

Happy International Women’s Day!


I’m home sweet home, but only for two weeks before I need to jet off to the States again. As you all probably know, Sporteluxe has expanded into the US. We now have an office in LA and are busy creating inspiring US content. But believe it or not, it’s not all sunny blue skies, palm trees and green juices. We are essentially a startup in the U.S. I guess what I’m trying to say is that uprooting my life and moving to a completely different country for my company to grow has not only been stressful but also lonely.

I’ve made some amazing friends in the States and I’ve also got my husband to thank for making my life a little more normal. He’s been my rock from day one and for that, I’m extremely grateful. But at the end of the day, it’s just not home. I constantly miss my family, my friends and the Aussie way of life—not to mention, proper coffee (I miss you Apache Salute!). Flying back and forth through time zones can be pretty tiring, too. Even conducting business over there is very different to Australia. We’re always reaching out and constantly creating new relationships to get the word out. The great news is that we’ve tripled our traffic since being in the States, but it’s been a result of wearing many hats, working countless hours, shedding many tears, sleepless nights, wanting to give it all up and lots of trial and error. And don’t let anyone tell you that running a company let alone expanding one is easy. It’s FU*!##G HARD. But hey, this is business and if you’ve got a plan to grow and scale, then you have to do the hard yards! Yep, there will be lots of curves in the road, taking stabs in the dark, constant HUSTLING and taking on RISK, but it’s all a part of the journey. Nothing comes from sitting on your ass or on the fence. And my best piece of advice for anyone reading this and wanting to start their own business is to ALWAYS:

  1. Find a MENTOR
  2. Create a SUPPORT GROUP. A group of friends who can advise you on stuff that you scratch your head at. Stuff that they are skilled at and that you have no experience in.
  3. Ask INTELLIGENT questions. The more you ask, the more you learn.
  4. NETWORK as much as possible and believe in your dream no matter how many setbacks you get. After all, no one can sell your idea or business better than anyone else.

But I wanted to share an amazing experience I had on a recent flight back to Australia that made it all worthwhile. Being stuck on an aeroplane for 15 hours isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. As short as I am (5″6), I actually suffer from aching knees in the cabin—I can only imagine what a tall person would endure! There I was, staring at the TV screen thinking “When will I ever be heard?” I’m here to help guide people to be the best versions of themselves daily, but some days I feel that no one ever listens to the message or what we’re trying to do. This is the start up life!

It was at that exact moment where I was thinking about my purpose in life that I was called up to the back of the galley by a QANTAS flight attendant to meet a fan named Pauline (I hope you’re reading this, Pauline!). There she stood before me, with tear-filled eyes. I was so confused—why was she crying? She said she couldn’t believe I was standing right in front of her. Pauline sobbed that it was because of me, Sporteluxe and yoga that she was able to build a positive life again after going through some tough times. I was so incredibly touched by her story and it reminded me of exactly why I do what I do.

At Sporteluxe, we’ve created a supportive environment where we encourage women (and men) to lift each other up (rather than tearing each other down). It doesn’t take much. Just one smile, a pat on the back or letting someone know how well they’re doing can absolutely brighten someone’s day. And that’s exactly what Pauline did for me!

Even though my career started as a dream, it’s been no fairytale. I’ve encountered ego, been afflicted by pre-conceived notions and have had continual knock backs. But through perseverance and the support of the amazing people around me, I’ve been lucky enough to find my voice. Whilst I’ve always had a voice, it’s taken me a good part of my life to work out how to be heard.

Speak up and tell someone—whether it’s your mum, sister, friends or even someone you follow on social media—what they mean to you. Not only will it make you (and them) feel amazing, you’ll be supporting the strong, powerful and intelligent network of women around you. Because without it, we can’t grow together!

Happy International Women’s Day.

B xx