Leadership

Sophia Amoruso: Don't make the mistake I made as a 22-year-old 'girlboss'

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What this CEO regrets about launching her own business in her 20s — even...

Life as a serial entrepreneur has taught Girlboss CEO Sophia Amoruso a number of lessons — including the value of building a supportive network.

"There was a point in my life where I thought working by myself alone in a room was the best thing ever," Amoruso told CNBC Make It. "As I've gotten older and wiser, the power of a community's been something I've learned so much about."

Amoruso was 22 when she started Nasty Gal, a one-woman eBay operation where she resold thrifted clothing. Nasty Gal eventually grew into multi-million-dollar business. 

The fast-growing company, one Amoruso has called a "runaway train, " faced its share of challenges, including financial and legal issues as well as some layoffs. Amoruso stepped down in 2015 and the company filed for bankruptcy in 2016.

Unlike other startup founders, Amoruso didn't have an alumni network or other peers she could go to for advice. "I was on the cover of business magazines and it was like very cool, but I didn't have anybody to relate to," she said. "When things got tough, I wish I had a community to fall back on."

Asking for help and building a network are key concerns for modern workers of any stripe. A recent LinkedIn survey of 1,000 workers found that approximately one third of those polled listed "asking for help " as a top challenge, one nearly equal to finding work-life balance. Another 9 percent regretted not doing more to build a network or support system. 

Those seeking support should remember: peers and colleagues are often all too happy to lend a hand. In fact, according to some recent research, most people greatly underestimate how willing others are to respond to direct requests. Asking for help can even help one look smarter and make their advice giver feel smart as well.

To help women build the network she wished she'd had, Amoruso has since founded Girlboss, a company dedicated to empowering women in their careers through conferences, podcasts and more.

She's also launching a LinkedIn-style networking platform in 2019. Founding members of the platform include Glossier CEO Emily Weiss, Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd and ex-Uber exec Bozoma Saint John.

Said Amoruso, "We're all feeling our way around in the dark in this new world where we have so many more tools and opportunities."

There are "so many more ways of working than we ever had before," says Amoruso. "That information is so incredibly easy to share."

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