A female co-founder explains how she got organized when it came to helping others organize themselves, and the five key skills that got her product to market.
By Elizabeth Dodson (Co-founder, HomeZada)
With busy schedules, people face a lot of challenges in managing their time. Many professional people juggle how to manage their business life and their personal life. There are many systems to manage various aspects of life like productivity solutions, personal finance apps, travel and shopping sites and social networks. However, as a professional woman who was managing all these details in my life, I could not find one single solution to help me manage all the details of my home life.
The challenges I faced ranged from remembering to organize the appropriate maintenance tasks and the ability to track home improvement or remodeling projects to understanding what I owned in my home to have the proper insurance and all the finances that go along with these tasks, projects and items. How was I to achieve the same level of organization in running my home as I had managing my career?
I saw this need and recognized an opportunity to help myself and others who were suffering from the same challenges in managing their home. So with two other co-founders, we created HomeZada which is an online solution that allows you to manage everything about your home in one central place, making life more organized.
In order to build our company, we needed to take a look at the basic elements and skills we needed to take HomeZada to market.
Spend Time Up Front With Brand Management
With lessons learned from a previous company, we recognized that building our brand and focusing on the long-term effects and opportunity were necessary for long term company growth. We wanted a brand that had an association to our core market, was easy to pronounce and spell, and was memorable with a touch of playfulness. We asked ourselves how will logos and colors affect our user experience, partners and online and printed marketing materials? Is our company name going to offend anyone, is someone going to mistake our company for another, is the website and the internet app the same name? All these questions were asked in order to make the appropriate decisions.
Understand Your Personal Skills And Gaps
Understanding what value you bring to the company and being honest about your weaknesses helps you define what you need in others in order to build a successful company. All three co-founders of HomeZada bring different skills and without the others, it would be difficult to grow our company effectively. Being a sole founder is hard, so bringing in other co-founders is a great way to not only fill skills gaps but also create a division of labour.
Ask For Help
Prior to launching our solution and company, we also asked others for feedback to determine our focus, goals and how to build our company. This feedback helped us further define the correct business structure, a great design strategy for our website, what legal documents were necessary and the best partnering strategies for us. These relationships continue to grow and become more valuable resources as our business continues to grow.
Determine Your Financial Situation
By bootstrapping your company prior to getting investors, you learn what the company needs, what your customers require, how to work harder, smarter and prove the product. You also learn how to manage both your personal and business finances. This will only get harder as you bring in more investment, so bootstrapping allows you to have experience with your financials.
Managing The Highs And Lows
Managing the emotional highs and lows of any business is challenging. Be realistic and find out what your organization really needs. Also, learn how to cope with the naysayers. There are many of them and if you believe and have passion in your product and build the right teams, you can build a successful company. There are a lot of companies that became successful when others thought they were bad ideas.
With all the previous experience of another startup and a personal need to be better organized, I was able to take those lessons and apply them to HomeZada. I wish you all the best of luck in your own adventures: just keep working at them.
Women 2.0 readers: What has helped you bring your product to market? Do you have other tips to share?
About the guest blogger: Elizabeth Dodson is co-founder of HomeZada, an online home management solution. Previously, Ms. Dodson was responsible for the development, growth and performance of a global partner program for Meridian Systems, the leading construction project management software. Ms. Dodson holds an MBA from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Stevenson University in Stevenson, Maryland.