Martha Stewart’s greatest piece of business advice, and 6 other tips for career women

Martha Stewart gets real about being an entrepreneur, keeping loyal customers, and how to thrive as a businesswoman in an ever-changing world.

Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images for Create & Cultivate

For any female entrepreneur or career woman, Martha Stewart is the icon to look toward as a shining star example. Stewart has had so many titles throughout her career that it’s uncomfortable to name them all in one sentence, so instead, we’ll list them here: model, stockbroker, catering company founder, author, television personality, magazine editor-in-chief, and overall businesswoman.

Ladders was able to catch Stewart’s conversation with Create & Cultivate Founder Jaclyn Johnson at the Create & Cultivate New York on May 4. Here are seven pieces of advice that Martha Stewart has for women pursuing their dream careers.

Martha Stewart’s biggest piece of business advice is simple

“We want to be where the customer needs and wants us,” Martha said. “It’s that simple … and that hard.”


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Stewart realized that her early books were successful because “people needed these books,” which is why she, in turn, founded the Martha Stewart Living magazine in 1990.

“I learned right then that I wanted to create a business that people needed and wanted,” Stewart said. “That need and want is still part of my business plan.”

Martha Stewart has no time for impostor syndrome, and neither should you

Impostor syndrome, which Johnson described as the feeling that one’s success is not earned or deserved.

While 70% of women have reported experiencing this phenomenon, when asked if she has ever felt this, Stewart replied with a simple, and slightly disgusted, “No.”

“You shouldn’t even know that exists,” Stewart said. “You have to really take the reigns and ride the horse.”

Stewart said that is is especially important for female entrepreneurs. “Somebody asked me once about breaking through the glass ceiling…I didn’t even know what they were talking about,” Stewart said.

By paying no mind to these phenomenons, you’re able to focus on your career, goal setting, and achievements.

“It’s about being a strong, self-possessed person that you have to be if you’re going to be in business for yourself,” Stewart said.

Martha Stewart advises you to embrace new technology

Stewart revealed that she drives a Tesla because she truly believes in electric cars and wants to know for herself if they’re a good investment.

“Investigating new technology is a wise thing to do … I go for it all,” Stewart said.

While Stewart checks out the latest advancements in cars, she encourages entrepreneurs and career women to investigate technology as a means to build their brand, whether it be for their company or themselves. She believes social media can be an extremely strong tool for women starting companies or careers.

“I have been an early adopter of most everything,” she said.

Martha says you need to welcome change

In addition to embracing new tech, Stewart also believes in welcoming change. Though she referred to it as a “silly little motto,” Martha Stewart’s life mantra is a sentiment that all women need to hold near and dear to their hearts throughout their careers. “When you’re through changing, you’re through,” Stewart said are the words that she lives by.

“It’s a very good motto to keep in mind because you have to be able to change … you have to be able to swerve here and there if you have to … you have to be able to move around.”

Based on her many professional titles, Stewart obviously embraces change in her career. Her latest venture is investing in CBD (cannabidiol) through Canopy Growth, one of the world’s largest marijuana producers.

“It’s the modern thing,” Stewart said, explaining why she’s excited to venture into the booming marijuana industry.

“We still are doing a tremendous amount of research in the cannabis industry,” Stewart said. “We want to know if CBD really does help, if it really is not harmful, if it really is as good as we think it is.”

Stewart mentioned CBD is currently being researched to see if it can help animals as well as if it can be combined with cosmetic products for people.

Martha Stewart stresses the importance of being a good teacher

“I want my legacy to be a good woman, who’s a good teacher, who’s fun, and has accomplished a lot,” Stewart said.

Any successful entrepreneur will eventually have to hire staff one day, which can be a daunting task. Stewart recommends giving people a chance, even if they don’t seem like they’re the person with the most knowledge on a specific topic.

Instead of hiring someone with all the hard skills, Stewart recommends searching for a person you’ll be able to train. Taking time to train new employees is critical.

Stewart recalled one brilliant intern whom she wished she had spent more time with, saying, “She went off and got a fantastic job and I’m happy she did, but I was sorry to lose her.”

“You have to spend time with a new employee,” Stewart said. “You have to really help them understand what their jobs are all about.”

Martha Stewart advises staying true to your beliefs

While this was technically a piece of advice she would give to her younger self, that makes it an even more important message for young women to hear.

Stewart recalled going to her publisher with an idea to create a series of “How To” books. She got shut down. Instead of naysaying this idea altogether, she decided instead that a magazine would be the more appropriate format for this idea.

“That was the first big challenge. Magazines were closing at the rate of about 10 to every startup at that time,” Stewart said.

The first issue of Stewart’s magazine was published in 1990, meaning the publication is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary, for which it will publish a special 300th edition.

“We still have the same number of subscribers, the same rate base of 2.1 million copies a month … that’s a big magazine.”

Magazines are again at a crossroads- with print magazines “failing and closing at a pretty healthy rate right now.” But Martha Stewart Living is still going strong because it knows what it’s customers need and want. “We still produce a very beautiful magazine every single month,” Stewart said.

For the modern working woman, Martha recommends staffing two to three housekeepers

This piece of advice isn’t relevant for all of us, but Stewart swears by it.

“So you never have to make that bed again,” Stewart said.

With Martha’s advice, maybe we’ll all be able to have a few housekeepers in each of our four houses one day.


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