Female Founders on How to Scale your Business
fm Entrepreneur.com 19 Apr 16 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
“Your #1 Priority is Scaling your business.” It’s a simple observation, but an important one, shared by Dermalogica CEO & founder Jane Wurwand last week at the inaugural Circular Summit in Houston. She was one of many accomplished Female Founders who’d converged to talk about what’s needed to grow women-led businesses.
Of course, there’s no Route #1 to growth. However, businesses that do scalimg tend to have certain traits in common. To find those traits, we polled a sampling of successful female founders at the event, from Jane to an 11-year-old lemonade entrepreneur who snagged a sweet offer on Shark Tank and an El Salvadoran-immigrant-turned-$Millionaire-waste management mogul who “Turns trash into cash.” Here are 9 lessons on what’s needed to scale from the Circular Summit’s fearless Female Founders F3s.
1. Start Small. Mikaila Ulmer, founder & CEO of BeeSweet Lemonade. “Grow your business locally first. That’s what we did, selling lemonade at my own stand at first, then in local stores. Then I held workshops teaching families about bees. Whole Foods asked me to do a workshop there and, five or so workshops later, they finally asked to carry my product, and it was pretty cool. Scaling starts with growing a company that you’re passionate about. If you’re not passionate about it, it’s going to be pretty hard to get other people passionate about it. Also know that you can still be sweet and be profitable, so you can be what’s called a Social Entrepreneur – an entrepreneur who uses their company to help solve problems in the world in ways that have measurable impact. More people will be interested in buying or carry your product, or using your service, if they are part of helping the world be a better place.”
2. Listen Carefully to what people think of your product or service + your business model. Ali Brown, founder & CEO of We Lead + host of Glambition Radio podcast. “Make connections. The more connections you have, the more access to the right information, advice & resources you’ll gather. The lesson there is to listen to your ‘gut’ when scaling. Surround yourself with people who are very honest with you and get you to think very clearly for yourself and what you want.”
3. Think one-step ahead. Melanie Spring, founder & chief Inspiration officer of Sisarina. “Hire people before you have the money to do it. Getting an assistant is the first step in scaling, because it frees you up to focus on growth, to go out there & get good customers. Show up and say, ‘I can do this,’ and then figure out how – even if you sometimes doubt yourself while you’re doing it. Have confidence, courage & some serious fortitude — that’s how you scale fast.”
4. Build the Right Team. Team Building. Kimberly Johnston, founder & CEO of Good Works Houston. “To grow, build a team that believes in you and believes in what you’re doing. Connect & create deep, meaningful relationships with people who are committed, confident & passionate about your Vision. In the end, it’s not financial capital that drives scalability, it’s human capital. It’s taking the time to meet people one on one and understanding how this can be a joint, mutually beneficial relationship. If on your growth path you connect with people who aren’t a match for what you’re trying to accomplish, stay focused and move on. Success is just up ahead.”
5. Make people believe in you. Kelli Thomas-Drake, founder & CEO of MyPurpleFolder. “Scaling comes down to showing people your passion. From this genuine place, show them your Value Proposition, Revenue model, Financial projections – your potential. Show people the unique, problem-solving magic of your business, and what it will empower them to do. Once they understand your mission and what it can do for them, others will get on board. Recruit believers in your vision into a team that can fuel your growth and high growth will follow.”
6a. Do Strategic Planning. Maria Rios, founder & CEO of Nation Waste, Inc. “Taking your business to a higher level requires careful, deeply strategic planning – well in advance. One smart first step you can take is to get certifications that establish your credibility in your industry. Many of my certifications led to being able to bid on and win state & federal projects that bring in millions of dollars for my business. Take it from me — industry certifications unlock big doors to growth. Go after them.”
6b. Which Opportunity? As you grow, you’ll also want to resist the temptation to take every opportunity that comes your way. My mentor Warren Buffett reminds me that not every opportunity is a great opportunity, so pick & choose wisely. It has to be the right idea & the right fit, otherwise it could end up slowing your growth, not scaling it up.”
7. Think BiG. Felena Hanson, founder & CEO of Hera Hub.
“You have to have the guts to scale. Women tend to be a bit more risk-averse than men. What we need to do is challenge ourselves to go bigger. Embrace a growth mindset. Network aggressively and take part in Pitch events so you can get out there in front of investors. Then find mentors who can feed you – people who have been there and done that. Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to go for it and ask for what you need & want.”
8. Be Persistant & Scrappy. [Instead of Crappy – Wiz4biz] Jane Wurwand, founder & CEO of Dermalogica. “Be resourceful. Write compelling content about your business and send it to the press. You can just call up the beauty editor at Harper’s Bazaar. I did and it worked. No one does that anymore, but they should. If you can’t afford a PR agency (and I couldn’t when I started), go for it and reach out to the media yourself. Go old-school direct and tell them that you’ve started a company, and you just want 10 minutes to come and tell them about it. You’d be surprised the opportunities it opens you up to. Another key step is to hire fellow “dreamers” – people who are hitching a wagon to your dream. We hired anyone we thought was crazy enough to join us and had huge amounts of energy. It was an affordable, manageable growth route that got us where we are today.”
9. Be Efficient to be more Effective. Grace Rodriguez, co-founder & culture conductor for Station Houston. “Automate. The more tasks you can automate, the less time you’ll have to focus on day-to-day operations. Delegate the ones you can. Then, build an army. Create a team of supporters, an A-team of advisors who understand your target market, vendors, & network. These are the people who will propel your growth. Lastly, amplify your efforts. This means targeting & growing advocates & influencers online – the amplifiers of your message. Empower and welcome people to become a part of your brand and what it empowers them to do”.
Comments: Is there anything you could add that will help in Scaling?