With decades of business experience, what’s your advice to young founders?
I have so much advice! You can’t do everything well; be good at one or two things. Listen to what your customers are saying, their pain points are your opportunities.
Time is precious. You don’t have to attend every networking event, but you can make fantastic connections and friendships that way. Use Zoom for meetings, so you’re not driving all over wasting time.
If you’re feeling down or not feeling it that day, acknowledge it and do whatever you need to get through it.
I do online puzzles - it’s okay to have days like that. Start again the next day. Never stop learning. Surround yourself with people you admire. Don’t assume you’ll be an overnight success; you have to put in the time. If you connect with people and they want to help you, let them. Take risks.
When has taking a risk made a big difference for you?
I’ve had imposter syndrome big time, so I know how hard it can be. You just have to get through it. For example, I was going to a supplier diversity luncheon, I had a broken foot, and it was my first time there. There would be thousands of people, and I knew I needed to get noticed. I watched videos of the previous conventions, and everyone was wearing dark clothes.
So, I bought a high visibility vest with reflective tape all over it and got someone to print ‘Iron Elk Safety Equipment’ and ‘Woman-Owned Business’ on it. I thought to myself, “you are absolutely mental.” But instantly, people were commenting on it.
Suddenly, I went from someone sitting in the audience, star-struck, to being on their video with my vest on. It felt really bizarre, but people wanted to hear my story, and I got noticed.
I wore the vest in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago at a conference with 80,000 people. I was on the panel, and suddenly, they turned the lights down and put black lights on. I was like a glow stick! It was so cool.
Getting out of your comfort zone is so important. What do you have to lose? The worst-case scenario is not that bad.