Calling All Female Entrepreneurs: 5 Tips For Breaking the $1M Mark
98% is a mystifying number for female entrepreneurs like me.
98% of venture dollars go to men. And. 98% of women-owned businesses never hit the $1M mark. As 305 approaches a milestone year of growth, I'm feeling exceptionally proud of what this team has built and reflecting on how we've beat these crazy odds.
But, I can't be out here celebrating without acknowledging the structural bias that keeps women, the working class, and people of color on the sidelines. As a founder, I am white, Ivy League educated, and have the means to live in New York City. I recognize I have a major leg up in a culture that still prioritizes space for affluent, white, and thin.
Women everywhere need a seat at the table, and that starts with economic empowerment. Here are 5 ways I have found success growing 305, and I am hoping that these pieces of advice can support at least one of you in scaling your dream. Let’s get to work!
Some of the best businesses never raise a dime from investors. If you're able to bootstrap your idea, more power to ya! 🙌 But even if fundraising isn't in the cards right now, I'd highly recommend educating and preparing yourself to raise money, in case you ever wanna pull that lever.
To set yourself up for raising money:
Explore a bank loan with the SBA. They have so many free tools, including advisors you can meet with.
Check out Crunchbase. Look up your favorite brands and who they raised money from.
Start connecting on LinkedIn. As cheesy as it sounds, every time you meet someone, connect with them on LinkedIn. If you decide to raise money, you'll want a wide network you can refer to for intros.
If you've started a business, it means you overcame the odds with major hustle, grit, and determination. But if you want to scale a business, it means you have to say RIP to the control-freak inside of you and trust others to do it, too! 👭
How to know it's time to delegate:
You really. just. can't. You're diligent, organized, and managing your resources well. But there is literally just not enough time to get the important stuff done.
You know someone will be better at certain skills than you. Could your company grow faster if you hired for your weaknesses?
You really dread doing certain parts of your job. Are there things you keep pushing to the wayside? If it's piling up, time to consider hiring someone, perhaps part-time to start.
You're making money. If you're making enough money to pay yourself and a little more, then you likely have enough money to bring someone else on. Go for it, especially if your first hire can free up time to focus on marketing, sales, and growing your bottom line.
If you're looking to get past that $1M revenue mark, you likely have to hire people. That often means you may not get it right the first time. It's okay to let go of people when it's not working out. The quality of your team is absolutely vital to the success of your business, especially in the early days. You're doing yourself and your company a disservice by keeping people on when you don't feel they are the right fit.
Here are a few tips that can help you navigate this painful conversation:
Don't waiver. When you walk into the room, be very clear about what you're looking to say.
Say it, and then shut up. This isn't about you. Step aside so this person can get the closure they need.
Offer to be a resource. Now that the decision has been made, you can express support. You can offer a letter of recommendation, help in their job search, a part-time role, or anything they may need to get back up on their feet.
From a young age, women and people of color are taught to be non-confrontational. 🙅♀️🙅♂️ When it comes to conflict, women are labeled "hysterical" or "frigid" and people of color are labeled "angry" and "aggressive." Even when we can intellectualize these stereotypes to be untrue, we may often still feel their weight when needing to confront a problem head-on. I encourage you to be aware of the unconscious bias you may be imposing on yourself when you step into the room.
"Rome wasn't built in a day." (I was thrilled to discover Italians have the same expression.) 🍝
The early stages of a business are all about conserving precious resources to take the dollar furthest.
As a one-woman show, you're never short on ideas. But the best founders are the ones who can show laser-sharp focus. Cut out any distractions and focus on doing one thing well.
Improve your focus by:
Focusing on the 80/20 rule. One product should be driving 80% of your revenue. Focus on that product above all else.
Batching email. You were put on this earth to create and grow, not to play defense in your inbox. Check your email in the morning, lunchtime, and evening. The rest of the time is for getting your work done.
Say no. In the early days, you want to say yes to everything. But you may need to turn opportunities down if you don't feel they will move the needle.
If I had a dime for every time I wondered, "Am I crazy?" 🤑
Starting and scaling a business is unlike any other skill. Most careers require skills like strategic thinking, leadership, organization, or technical skills. But an early-stage entrepreneur needs a *rare* skill, and we don't teach it in school.
That skill? Listening to your intuition. (And I profoundly believe women have an instinctive advantage here!)
You are creating something the world has never seen. You're putting your special twist on it. Which means people will often think you are crazy. You'll sit in countless meetings and wonder why doesn't this person get it? You may find yourself looking like a two headed monster. You'll be man-splained to more than once. And every now and then, you'll want to flip a table over and pound on your chest and scream. Maybe that's just me? 🤷♀️
If you're creating a product for women, people may think it's extra crazy. After all, what's the need for a product for a group of people who have been conditioned to feel 'silly,' 'superfluous,' or 'emotional'?
You can't control what other people think. But you can control how much BS you internalize. You're the visionary. Own it.
I'm hosting a Business Bootcamp Nov 9-10 in NYC. Check out more here.