I’ve coached and worked with hundreds of women entrepreneurs making between $75k and $750k in revenues, and in my book Million Dollar Women I profiled women who successfully built multi-million dollar companies. When only 3% of women entrepreneurs are reaching $1M in revenues, we know that the women who make it “big” are more the exception than the rule.
Mistake #1: Doing it all yourself
Any entrepreneur who gets $1M in revenues has figured out how to delegate and usually has one or more full time staff, part time people or consultants, virtual assistants and/or interns. Many women I work with are hesitant about delegating, even when they know they’re stretched too thin. They are afraid the job won’t get done right, they don’t want to spend the money, or don’t have the experience to hire and manage people effectively. If you read my blog regularly, you know I talk about the importance of becoming a Delegation Ninja and that I am myself a recovering perfectionist, so I can relate! In my Masterclass, I help women start offloading responsibilities so they can focus on their genius work and be the leader in their company, not the lead do-er .
Twice as many men get to $1M, or 6% compared to our 3%.
So exactly what is getting in our way of catching up with men in turning our business ideas into ones that make bank? Twice as many men get to $1M, or 6% compared to our 3%. I’ve noticed some common issues that hold back companies with fantastic potential from doubling in size and getting on a path to go big (and I committed at least four of these mistakes for yearsat Little Pim). Check out my top ten here, and if you want to learn how to avoid them.
Mistake #2: Lack of internal systems and processes
It takes some trial and error to learn what internal systems and processes work when it comes to finance, marketing, sales, operations, etc. While it’s hard to carve the time out to actually finesse these, it’s crucial for scaling up. To get to $1M in revenues we need to fine tune the “money making machine” at the center of our business. This usually means having a specific and written sales playbook, software the automates much of the work, and established systems that work.
Mistake #3: Not busting limiting beliefs
As a trained Master Practitioner in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and someone who has done a lot of work on mindset in my personal and professional life, I can tell you that we may think we are making rational decisions all day based on facts, when in reality, the unconscious drives the show. Many entrepreneurs think that just ramping up sales is the golden ticket for growth, but that’s simply not the case.
Without the right mindset, and tackling our own limiting beliefs, many entrepreneurs lack the confidence and belief in themselves that they need and deserve to go big. It’s rarely competence holding women back, it’s often confidence and a mix of beliefs about money, what we deserve, and how we can do what we love and make bank at the same time.
Mindset mastery is one of the first things we tackle in my Masterclass, because in clearing up our limiting beliefs and building mental toughness, we can truly embrace success. As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.”
Having the right mindset is like laying down the foundation on which you can build your mansion, and it’s the number one thing the women I interviewed for Million Dollar Women underscored as critical to their success.
Mistake #4: Not understanding the scalable part of your business
While it’s true that sometimes entrepreneurs can’t see the forest from the trees, being able to understand the scalable part of your business is the difference between hitting a plateau and the “hockey stick” growth that we all aim for. It’s also what makes your company “investable” because the company can grow to fives or ten times bigger than it is today without having to bring on five or ten times more staff, marketing or infrastructure spend.
Mistake #5: Not working with coaches, mentors and advisors
An entrepreneur without coaches, mentors and advisors is like a backpacker without navigation tools. Sure, you can find your way to success on your own, but it will take you so much longer. Some female business owners I speak to are hesitant to work with what I call “flying buttresses”, or won’t invest the time or money to work with a coach. The truth is working with the people who have been there and done that can have huge ROI.
This is one of the main reasons that I designed my Masterclass with coaching built into it. I believe that every entrepreneur could benefit from a coach and most of the uber successful ones still have one, and have had several along the way. If you haven’t worked with a coach, mentor, or advisor, remember that they aren’t there to fix your business. They’re there to guide you in the right direction and course-correct you when you’re heading off track, show you paths you hadn’t seen, and help you get out of your own way.
Mistake #6: Insufficient financial know how
I’ve said before that finance is the proverbial Achilles heel for entrepreneurs because it’s not something most of the women I coach are excited or passionate about. Business owners don’t need to have a financial degree to run a business, but we do need to educate ourselves in order to create a cash runway, steward our money better, and raise capital. This really hits home for me, and in Masterclass we make sure everyone gets better at money management.
Mistake #7: Not having a cash runway
“You can be low on cash for a long time, but you can only run out of cash once.”
I’ll never forget when one of my advisors told me, “You can be low on cash for a long time, but you can only run out of cash once.” Many businesses fail or start sinking simply because they run out of cash.
In my research for Million Dollar Women, I learned that women are twice as likely as men to shut down their businesses because they run out of cash. And I made some errors in the early days of Little Pim that almost cost me the company (I share that story in my free Masterclass Primer Series). I don’t want that to happen to you.
Mistake #8: Good on vision, bad on execution and vice versa
Every entrepreneur has different skills. Some are excellent when it comes to having a vision for their company, but terrible at execution. On the other hand, some are excellent with execution, but bad on vision. Do you fall into one of these categories?
If you do (most of us do), you may want to think about how you can either improve on what you’re lacking in the good vision/good execution equation or find someone to work with you that will provide that necessary balance.
Without good vision, how can we create a one-year, three-year and five-year plan for our businesses? And without good execution, how can we get the necessary tasks done to produce our work and keep scaling up? Successful entrepreneurs learn to work on the business not just in the business, and to make strategy a priority — I wrote about this in my blog on strategy, “plan the dive and dive the plan.”
Mistake #9: Improperly tracking marketing spend
One of the dangers of running out of cash is tied to miscalculating marketing spend. There was a time at Little Pim where we didn’t track where our customers were coming from and didn’t know which marketing channels were performing and why. Eventually, we started keeping a closer eye on our marketing spend and were able to avoid falling into the money pit that is digital marketing and started getting excellent ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). We implement the 75/25 marketing budget rule. This was part of the “money making machine” we built that I referenced in #2.
Mistake #10: Not investing in networking and personal and business growth
Ok, I snuck two Mistakes into this last one. We don’t know what we don’t know, right? So the only way to learn what we don’t know is to invest in resources for personal and business growth, whether it’s reading blogs, devouring business books, finding coaches and mentors or joining an entrepreneur’s group. I did all of those and so did most of the women who made it to $1M in revenues and beyond.
At the end of the day, if your business is in trouble or you’re stuck at a certain point, you can either spend your time, money and energy trying every solution, or you can spend it on resources that will give you the frameworks, support systems, and education necessary to make that jump to the next level.
As for networking, without meeting people who can help you stretch to the next level, you may stay stuck wherever you are currently.
Getting further, faster
Many women entrepreneurs who struggle with scaling up don’t initially see that the answer probably lies in learning how to work smarter, not harder. I created Masterclass to help even more women make the climb to $1M in revenues, and it’s the program I wish I could have taken when I was scaling up Little Pim. (Click here to learn more about the course)
Anyone who has worked with me knows I like to say that in life you can have REASONS or you can have RESULTS. This means, you can have all the reasons you didn’t get what you said you wanted, or you can have the results, because you did what it took. Which will it be for you and your company? If it’s the latter, join us, and let’s all go big together!
This article first appeared in Julia Pimsleur.
I have always been in love with all things art- I was obsessed with drawing and painting before I was even walking. In high school, I started a career selling art through various gallery art shows and on Etsy. I then went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in painting, but took classes in ceramics, printmaking, cinema and architecture to get a really well-rounded education on all sorts of art.
During my senior year of college, my career path went through a huge transition; I started my own temporary tattoo brand, INKED by Dani, which is a brand of temporary tattoos based on my hand-drawn fine art designs.
The idea for the brand came one night after a themed party at college. My friends, knowing how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The feedback from that night was overwhelming, everyone my friends saw that night was obsessed with the designs. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head... I could do some completely unique here and create chic temporary tattoos with an art-driven aesthetic, unlike anything else on the market. Other temporary tattoo brands were targeted to kids or lacked a sleek and millennial-driven look. It was a perfect pivot; I could utilize my fine arts training and tattoos as a new art medium to create a completely innovative brand.
Using the money I made from selling my artwork throughout high school and college, I funded the launch of INKED by Dani. I had always loved the look of dainty tattoos, but knew I could never commit to the real thing, and I knew my parents would kill me if I got a tattoo (I also knew that so many girls must have that same conflict). Starting INKED by Dani was a no-brainer.
I started off with a collection of about only 10 designs and sold them at sorority houses around USC. Our unique concept for on-trend and fashion-forward tattoos was spreading through word of mouth, and we quickly started growing an Instagram following. I was hustling all day from my room, cold calling retailers, sending blind samples and tons of emails, and trying to open up as many opportunities as I could.
Now, we're sold at over 10,000 retail locations (retailers include Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Hot Topic), and we've transformed temporary tattoos into a whole new form of wearable art.
My 4 best tips for starting your own business are:
- Just go with your gut! You'll never know what works until you try it. Go day by day and do everything in your power to work toward your goals. Be bold, but be sure to be thoughtful in your actions.
- Research your competitors and other successful brands in your category to determine how you can make your product stand out. Figure out where there is a need or hole in the market that your new offering or approach can fill.
- Don't spread yourself too thin. Delegate where possible, and stay focused each day on doing the best and most you can. Don't get too caught up in your end goal or the big picture to a point where it overwhelms or freezes you. You're already making a bold move to start something new, so try to prioritize what's important! I started off in the beginning hand packing every single tattoo pack that we sold and shipped. If I wanted to scale to align with the level of demand we were receiving, I needed to make the pivot to mass produce and relinquish the control of doing every step myself. I am a total perfectionist, so that was definitely hard! From that point on, overseeing production has been a huge part of my daily schedule, but by doing so I've been able to free up more time to focus on design, merchandising, and sales, allowing me to really focus on growing the business.
- Prioritize great product packaging and branding. It's so important to invest time in customer experience- how customers view and interact with your product. The packaging is just as important as the actual product inside! When we were starting off, we had high demand, and I definitely jumped the gun a bit on packaging so we could deliver product to the retailers when they wanted it. Since then, we've completely revamped the packaging into something upscale and unique that reflects what the brand is all about. Our product packaging is always called out as being one of our retailers' and customers' favorite part of our product!