If these entrepreneurs could rewind time, here’s what they would do differently.
By the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
Many challenges stand in your way to as you strive to make your first startup a grand success, but experience isn’t necessarily one of them. Countless founders have eschewed earning a diploma or MBA and instead have gone onto building hugely successful companies.
Yet even though you don’t need an advanced degree to build an app, solve a problem with technology, or create a groundbreaking product, you’ll still make plenty of mistakes along the way.
That’s why we asked 15 founders: What’s the single best piece of advice you’d give a younger woman just now starting her first tech company and why?
1. Keep It Casual
One big mistake many women make is keeping it all business all the time. Some of the best bonding happens (especially in tech companies) over coffee, lunch and drinks. Casual chatting doesn’t mean you aren’t serious about business. In fact, some of the best rapport-building opportunities happen when you aren’t talking about work. Don’t be afraid to connect outside of work as well. – Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People
2. Set Daily Deadlines
In the early stages, momentum and making progress each day is key to keeping your team engaged. Set daily tasks for yourself and your teammates to complete. For example, rather than giving yourself a month to finish your investor deck, give yourself by the end of the day to have the first draft. This also means meeting with your team every day to review progress and keep people accountable. – Nanxi Liu, Enplug
3. Adopt Usersnap
Usersnap is an incredible piece of software allows users to record their feedback and report bugs as they‘re using your product. To avoid getting bombarded by users’ input, designate one member of your organization as the point person in charge of sorting through the responses and filtering them to the developers. This will allow you to streamline communication and make iterative improvements. – Lindsay Tanne, LogicPrep
4. Remember That You Belong Here
Looking around, being the only, or one of few females in the room, you can often times be overwhelmed with emotions of being outnumbered. You can’t relate to anyone and feel isolated. Remember, you belong there just as much as anyone else. You are paving the way for the next woman. If enough of us pave the way, the future holds less woman who experience those same feelings. – Kristi Zuhlke, KnowledgeHound
5. Use Your Female Advantage
A lot of tech companies focus on features and growth hacking. But if you can tap into your empathy and your “feminine insights” you can build a company that also makes an impact in the world. We need more holistic tech companies that care about the end user as much as the mighty dollar, and that’s how you’ll have the staying power to keep growing your business profitably. – Nathalie Lussier, AmbitionAlly
6. Don’t Play By a Man’s Game
As a woman in the tech world, it’s tempting to fit in with all the other men by dressing in pantsuits, acting “tough” and molding to the businessman persona. However, by molding to that persona, you may lose your own personality and the traits that made you successful in the first place. It’s OK to play the game. Just play it on your own terms. – Shalyn Dever, Chatter Buzz
7. Don’t Be Shy About Talking Money
The No. 1 piece of advice I give younger female founders is to talk about money. Starting a business is about revenue, expenses and fundraising, so shying away from money matters will only hold you back. When it comes to investors, discuss their typical check size and investment interests as well as your funding needs upfront. It will give you confidence and make your venture more likely to succeed. – Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
8. Connect With Fellow Female Founders
When I was starting my first company and attending events, usually with no other women in sight, I was often the subject of jokes or put in uncomfortable situations. At one larger tech event, they hired a stripper to dance for one of the all-male startups celebrating a milestone. I wish I were joking! It wasn’t until I sought out a tribe of female founders that I felt at home in this industry. – Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Build an advisory board, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. As with building any new venture, people are your biggest asset and actionable insight your second. Make sure you have both and that you challenge yourself to ask the hardest questions to your advisors, team, customers and market. You can’t know what’s possible if you don’t ask and keep the blinders open. – Lauren Perkins, Perks Consulting
10. Don’t Get Caught Up
I would advise her to ensure she is focused on growth and the long term goal. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day issues, but this will lead to you constantly playing catch-up. It’s important to form a long-term solution, or else you will become stagnant quickly. – Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
11. Get Involved Outside of Work
As a founder, you will have an incredibly hectic schedule. However, making the time to connect with others outside of your organization will not only build your network, but it will also enable you to bring in new and fresh ideas to your company. Join organizations that support women in technology. I have found my experience as a Global Co-Chair at Women in Wireless particularly rewarding. – Farzana Nasser, Gallop
12. Simply Be Yourself
It is important for us as women to simply step into business with the confidence that we are an equal contributor. People sense your level of confidence in the way you present yourself. So, generally speaking, the more that you being a woman is a non-issue for you, the more it will be the same for others. Then, what’s left is the opportunity for you to shine as the talented individual you are. – Christie Kerner, Launch MiE
13. Think Big
Play to your strengths, and don’t forget to be bold, take risks and brand yourself. While running a company, there will be times when you need to say yes to things that you are not fully prepared to execute on. You cannot afford to lose the opportunity, whether it’s from a new customer or partner. Do not shy away from branding yourself and your company. Take your credit wherever it’s due. – Shilpi Sharma, Kvantum Inc.
14. Keep Going
There is going to be a ton of hurdles — everything from development hiccups to people telling you that you can’t do it. Stay focused and just keep going no matter what. Big risks mean big rewards! – Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.
15. Just Get Started
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.