Latest Founders Bridge News
Apr 28, 2015
Follow CommentsFollowing CommentsUnfollow Comments By Lisa Nicole Bell We’ve all heard the advice on ‘following your passion,’ but we’ve rarely heard the truth about what it takes to start and run a successful business as a female founder. We know about the issues around pay disparity and challenges with fundraising, but there are many other rarely discussed aspects of being a successful businesswoman. I recently tapped Bridie Lee, Feven Yohannes and Helena Yohannes, the founders of I Heart Savvy . They run a wedding platform startup that helps brides find products and services for the big day. As we discussed what it took to go from employee to tech startup founder, I identified six key things that can bridge the gap gap between a great idea and a thriving company. A scalable idea. Female business owners have a tendency to launch service-based businesses that aren’t necessarily right for outside capital. While lifestyle businesses are great for supporting a family and having some time freedom, a venture backed business requires a scalable idea — one that could achieve an exit for its investors or eventually result in an IPO. Finding the scalability in your idea may take some research. Feven notes that she and her team did their homework to find the right path. “With I Heart Savvy we did a lot of in-person market research and spoke to prospective brides to find out what were the biggest problems they faced while planning their wedding.” Traction. Traction is the word every founder knows they need, but many aren’t sure what it really means. At the core, traction indicates that you’ve successfully identified a representative group of people who want what you want to offer and are willing to pay for it. How much traction you need varies by industry and product. The most important thing is to have honest conversations with prospective investors to understand what they need to see in order to feel confident investing in your business. A team. The most successful tech startups are usually those started by more than one person. If you’re working solo, consider finding a partner whose talents and strengths are different yet complementary to your own. Your investors are more likely to believe you can pull off all of your lofty projections and plans if there is a smart and capable team working collectively to solve the problem. Grit. No matter how many things you have working in your favor, things will go wrong, people will reject you, and you’ll face setbacks. The difference between those who go under quickly and those who are able to stay the course is grit. Are you able to stay focused and keep going even when things seem bleak? Managing your own psychology and emotions is critical to successfully guiding a startup. Business knowledge. The easiest way to address the learning curve in starting a business is to constantly seek out expert information. From books to blogs to social media, there have never been more free resources available to entrepreneurs. Make time every day to learn something new about your industry and the area of focus for your role in your startup. Bridie notes how helpful online access can be: “Learn everything you possibly can. We are lucky to live in an amazing time with unlimited free access to university lectures, conference speakers, articles and more online. Follow accomplished entrepreneurs and investors on Twitter, read the articles they post, and participate in the discussions they’re engaged in. Tech is a male-dominated industry, but the doors to this exclusive knowledge base and social circle have been opened by social media. Use it to your advantage! The more you understand, the more confident you’ll be.” Psychology knowledge. All business happens between people. Understanding how people make decisions and what makes them tick will make you a more effective businesswoman all around. As you make new observations and learn new lessons about interacting with men and women at various levels and in various industries, write down your insights. You’ll find that you can be your own best teacher as you reflect on what you’ve learned and stay focused on what works and what doesn’t. Helena points out how this can affect you personally as well as how it can affect your business. “Managing your psychology and learning to navigate difficult and unfamiliar situations is key. Also, knowing that 4 percent of venture capital goes to women and even less goes to people of color are facts every female founders should know. We have the power to can change it — all of us.” Lisa Nicole Bell is an award-winning producer and entrepreneur who currently serves as the CEO of Inspired Life Media Group, a content development company that produces and distributes content for television and the web.