This past week, a dynamic panel of four female CEOs shared their experiences starting and/or running successful businesses, with three of the panelists running their companies in Fremont. The panel was moderated by entrepreneur Dorian Webb, owner of Dorian Webb Lifestyle and consultant at the Alameda County Small Business Development Center.

The panelists shared several important lessons and here are our favorite takeaways.

Emily Liggett, CEO of NovaTorque, shared that she has always used these three guiding principles when deciding to be a professional CEO. 1) She must care about the product the company is producing. 2) She has to like the team that she’s working with day in and out. 3) She personally has to feel like she is making a difference.

June Riley, CEO of VC Taskforce, said that while she was working in the VC community, she realized a void needed filling and that startups needed help connecting to venture capitalists. She started her company as a way to give entrepreneurs the tools to be successful when pitching their ideas and products, and does this through workshops and events.

When answering the question about the most difficult thing about starting a business, Jody Tatro, CEO of ProExhibits, shared a story about persevering while dealing with a lawsuit after a few months of being in business. Her mantra is, “surround yourself with redwoods.” Jody feels it’s important to have a good support system and to learn from obstacles.

Shilpi Sharma, CEO of Kvantum, said that the most difficult part of starting a business is building the team. Her advice to startups is to surround yourself with advisors who are experts in areas that you’re not, such as legal and financial. Also, be willing to take unfiltered advice from someone that you respect.

The panelists also discussed how they’re constantly learning throughout the different stages of their careers. June talked about how she looks at each situation and uses her advisors to guide her. Emily mentioned that she has learned to say no and how to pivot or persevere in each circumstance. Shilpi said she has learned to take feedback from clients and as a result has taken her product in a direction that she never would have gone otherwise. Jody shared that she has learned that working with clients that are a good financial fit makes the best sense.

The overall sentiment from the panel was that starting and running a business can be incredibly rewarding. Their final words of advice include surround yourself with good mentors and advisers, have a strong support system at home, be patient, and trust your instincts.

Women CEO panelists: (left to right) Emily Liggett, June Riley, Shilpi Sharma, Judy Tatro, and moderator Dorian Webb in the center.