In recognition of International Women's Day on March 8, Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) is focusing on female founders who represent this year's theme, "Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change."

Sadie Lincoln, an EO member in Portland, is co-founder and CEO of barre3, a fitness company focused on teaching people to be balanced in body and empowered from within. Sadie was named to Inc.'s Female Founders 100, a list of innovative women who are rattling industries far and wide while changing the world. She was further lauded as one of 15 female founders on the list who are dominating their industries and building business empires. We asked Sadie about her entrepreneurial journey. Here's what she shared.

Can you briefly share how you started your entrepreneurial journey?

I decided to create a company based on my core values and what was missing for me in the fitness industry. The main problem I set out to solve was creating a workout that didn't have a destination or attachment to specific physical ideals. Instead of working out to change, we work out to be confident and empowered in our bodies just as they are in this very moment. This is a radical departure from the approach that I grew up with as a fitness professional. It's also what continues to fuel our success.   

You opened your company in 2008. What pivotal moments and decisions enabled you to achieve such phenomenal growth?

Diversifying revenue streams with a clear growth strategy has fueled our growth over the last 10 years. Our growth strategy is rooted in our vision to be a premium fitness brand that is redefining what success in fitness means. We will accomplish our vision by staying true to its epicenter--teaching a remarkable class. This was a pivotal decision. We had a moment where we could have grown by offering more services to our current studio clients. Instead, we chose to focus on what we do best, teaching classes, and extend our reach through more channels. We own six studios, have about 144 franchised studios, active online paying subscribers in 98 countries, and retail. We recently launched a retreat business as well which allows us to connect in a deeper and more meaningful way with both online subscribers and studio clients.  

Have you had mentors, advisors, or even opponents who have changed you or impacted your journey for the better?

Absolutely. Some of my best teachers are those who triggered feelings of shame, insecurities or feeling disrespected. Learning to be strong and believe in myself in the face of scrutiny has been incredibly transformational and has certainly given me resilience and strength as an entrepreneur

My EO Forum here in Portland has also made a significant impact on many aspects of my life. Most significantly, my Forum inspired me to be a stronger communicator and an active listener, lead my company with clear vision, mission, values and measurable goals, and provides me with the support I need. I think of them as my very own "team Sadie" who support me in ways that I cannot get from my company, home or friends.  

What changes do you hope to see for women in business during your lifetime?

I think we are making great strides forward for workplace equity. It's still a challenge, but it is a national conversation which is a good sign. I believe our next generation of young women in business, leadership, social impact and politics are going to be game-changers.  

I'd like to see more women supporting women―specifically, more women taking on roles in venture capitalism, private equity and angel investments. I would also like to see more women of color in these roles and in C-level leadership. Globally, we need to focus on equal opportunities for education for girls. ​ An educated girl is an empowered girl

If we were to visit your professional space, what would we find on your desk? 

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown--a book I give to all new employees because I think she is one of the most empowering thought leaders of our time. You will also find a cup of tea and yellow stickies in crazy patterns with various notes on my desk. It's my very own "beautiful mind" strategy to organize my thoughts. 

What do you hope to do in the future?

We will continue to listen carefully to our clients' needs while staying true to our mission of teaching people to be balanced in body and empowered from within. We are continually evolving our class based on the latest research and experiences working with clients. This dedication to innovation requires an absolute commitment to education and training. We often say that we are more an education company than we are a fitness company. 

If you could relay one sentence to your younger self, what would it be? 

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remember that your worth is measured by your inherent strengths, your wisdom, and your ability to make a positive impact in this world. 

Published on: Mar 7, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.