‘What It Takes’ a persuasive ­lesson in female entrepreneurship

In all the years I have written about books for this paper, never have I reviewed anything that comes close to a book about business.

But I found it worthwhile to read about Raegan Moya-Jones, a savvy young woman from Australia. After moving to the United States with her boyfriend, she built a business worth more than a hundred million dollars – without a college degree.

“What It Takes, How I Built a $100 Million Business Against the Odds” is a financial memoir tracking her journey from a working wife and mother to the top of the entrepreneurial success ladder.

Her success came not long after her male boss told her, “You don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in your body.” It was not the first or the last time that men in the world of high finance and leadership would deny her encouragement or funding.

Moya-Jones’s tenacity, imagination and faith in the products she wanted to manufacture and sell were the assets that moved her through the gender-biased roadblocks at almost every step, and it’s what makes this book a compelling and hard-to-put-down read.

Her story begins when she and her good friend, also Australian, lament the lack of good swaddling blankets in America – the kind of cotton blankets in which generations of Australian babies had been wrapped. After a couple of years of grueling research and planning, that conversation gave birth in 2006 to aden+anais. The thriving company produces hugely popular muslin cotton goods for babies around the world.

‘Trust in your idea’

In some ways, “What It Takes” is exactly that: a how-to book of instructions especially honed for the female entrepreneur. The author’s chapter titles say it all, from Trust In Your Idea, Don’t Let Doubt Stop You, Mum Guilt, Expect Surprises, Choose Your Partner Wisely, Know When to Sell to Exit With Grace.

A principle factor in Moya-Jones’s story is the acquisition of funds, not only to start with but money for everything that might follow. Gender bias appears most often in acquiring funding and the recognition of female leadership.

“Women are encouraged to be more like men in business – that is, less emotional, less reactive, less feminine. I couldn’t disagree with this sentiment more.”

As I read this book, I began to think of how many daughters are not encouraged by family, friends and educators to take a serious look at where they might fit in business. Yet these women may be filled with ideas about better mousetraps just waiting to be built. And the bossiness they exhibit, in male terms, is known as leadership.

“What It Takes” is an invitation to step into the world she built without the fancy college degree or the family of wealth behind her. Moya-Jones’s wealth is what she carries inside, a wealth she encourages other women to find in themselves.

“What It Takes” is must reading for young women everywhere.

Sunny Solomon is a freelance writer and head of the Clayton Book Club. Visit her website at
bookinwithsunny.com for her latest recommendations or just to ‘talk books.’