Being a woman in the business world is hard – and being a woman in the construction industry is even harder. But Carol Carden always had faith that she would succeed.
“For me, it came naturally. I knew early on in high school that I wanted a career in business. I had good inspirational teachers and adults that encouraged me and had me thinking I could be successful in running a business,” she said.
At the time, she wasn’t thinking about becoming a business owner – she was just trying to find her niche. When she joined Coolman Communities, a developer and residential home-building company, Carol knew she’d found something special.
“I knew I could be successful as a home builder because I knew I could have fun helping clients’ dreams come true,” she explained. “I love that each day brings its own opportunities and challenges. I’m a very positive person, and I have strong faith. Believing in myself is the biggest step that brought me here.”
Carol would eventually go on to purchase Coolman, becoming a 50 percent owner of the business that she loved. But in those early days, when she was just starting as a Coolman employee, things were challenging. Building is a male-dominated field, and Carol said customers were often taken aback when they met her. Luckily, Carol happened to like a challenge.
“I really love exceeding clients’ expectations and earning their trust,” she said. “And while it is challenging to be in ‘a man’s world,’ so to speak, I’ve had some great mentors over the past 35 years who really took the time to train me and teach me the skills I need to be successful – so I know I can handle any project that ends up on my plate.”
And being a woman in the building world comes with some advantages, as well. For example, Carol explained, other women are often the ones who make the homebuying and design choices. For these clients, meeting Carol can be a relief.
“I think they’re thrilled to work with another woman and feel like I can give sound advice as they make decisions about their future home,” she explained. “I like to believe that that bond takes away some of the stress associated with purchasing or building a home.”
In fact, Carol’s people-first model led to success with her coworkers, as well as her clients – and now, it’s part of what makes her a good employer.
“I believe in being honest and real with co-workers,” she said. “I try to know when I need to ask for advice, and I try to own up to my mistakes so that I can learn from them.”
In fact, having good relationships – with clients and with employees – is vital to running a good business – which is why prospective business owners should surround themselves with good people.
“Surround yourself with people that help make you better,” Carol shared. “As business owners, we can’t be expected to do this on our own – don’t be afraid to ask for help! Let others help you so that you can, in turn, help them. I believe that we all make each other successful by lending each other a hand.”
“And,” she added. “Always be true to yourself.”