If you are not familiar with Emylee and Abigail over at Boss Project, you need to get familiar. I met these ladies in 2018 and immediately connected with their content and mission to help founders become full time creators.
I even taught a session for their Boss Project Summit called “Progress Over Perfection” – an EPIC 4 day virtual (and free) conference to help founders and creatives connect with great content and grow their businesses. Needless to say, I’m #girlcrushing hard and not mad about it.
I recently sat down with them to chat about the realness of being a female founder on their top-rated podcast, Strategy Hour, and we chatted all things marketing, feeling the need to do everything and be everywhere, and how to prioritize all the crazy things that are actually working in your business so you can move forward.
Have a listen and check out the show notes and blog post below.
Life as a successful female entrepreneur can be frazzling with all the different responsibilities you have to take on.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know which thing to tackle first! Today on the podcast we have Jessica Korthuis, founder of Sohuis, a marketing and branding educational company that provides on-demand trainings for early-stage female entrepreneurs. Jessica is a powerhouse brand strategist marketer, and she has worked with brands like Red Bull, TEDxWomen, Girls Who Code, Stanford University, Bloomingdale’s, and Florida Institute of Technology.
In this episode, we are talking about all the differences between small business ownership and entrepreneurship. We cover marketing tips, feeling the need to do everything and be everywhere, and how to prioritize the stuff that is actually working in your business so you can move forward.
Joining this discussion, you’ll hear some top tips for validating your product, how to stop being a perfectionist and take action, and the value of being transparent to build audience trust.
There is a lot of mindset-related stuff we are tackling today! Jessica is really in tune with female founders, and the different way intuition works when running a business. So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed about what is on your plate and what you have to handle, perfect! This episode will definitely provide some clarity for you.
Prioritize: Don’t Take Action for Action’s Sake
As we move from being entrepreneurs to business owners things can and do change a lot. There are some very clear differences between the two roles and it helps to be ready for the new challenges that will arise. As a new product of yours gets ready for release, the walls can start to feel like they are caving in on you with all the new responsibilities. Many women just accept this and begin to believe they will never sleep again because this is just how running a business is. The truth is, some of these pressures are more important than others. We can sometimes get weighed down by ‘shiny ball syndrome’, or the concept that all these attractive pressures such as social media and so on can be extremely distracting.
As women growing up, Jess shows us that we were told from a young age to behave a certain way and that everything has to be ‘just so’. This indoctrination can take a counterproductive form as you transition from entrepreneur to business owner.
You want everything to be perfect and can sometimes struggle to delegate. Don’t let this happen to you. Jess recommends the ‘sinking Titanic’ strategy. If you were trying to keep the Titanic afloat, you wouldn’t be washing dishes as your contribution. It’s the same with a new company: you have to prioritize. At the end of the day, global brands are looking to startups as examples of how to run a business, because they are so lean and able to move so quickly. This is a blessing so use it and get that profit coming in by being able to act on your priorities!
Validating Your Product Through a Mixture of Intuition and Openness to Feedback
As you’re getting your startup going, you will have a product you’re getting ready to release to the world, and it is important to have some tools for navigating its conception as well as evolution once in the market. It’s good to have some strategies for validating your product. A great strategy Jess believes in is simply using your intuition and figuring out how to get more customers. It’s as simple as that, but this process of researching and interfacing with customers can actually become quite challenging. When things turn out differently to what you expected, remember not to take it too personally. It is easy to become precious about our concepts, but it is important to survey products as you navigate their release. Data is just data so use it, incorporate it, and then move forward. While making your product surveys it is also important to ask the right questions. Don’t ask leading questions, ones that try to influence your customer into giving you the answer you want.
We talk about The Mom Test, or founders bias, the tendency to let our subjectivities get in the way with market research. Try to avoid this, ask the right questions, move onto your next assumption, make a tweak, and then repeat! Don’t see a discontinuity between a product and the data as a failure. It’s rather an opportunity to make a tiny pivot because entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a race.
Your business is not going to succeed due to one thing but is rather a journey with twists and turns.
Most importantly, don’t get too caught up in the data either. A balance needs to be struck between intuition and openness to feedback. In the universe of entrepreneurship, you are the sun, and the planets and stars are your coaches and feedback: without your idea their input is useless.
Stop Procrastinating and Take Action
One thing that a lot of people tend to get caught up in is this idea that they are not ready to take action yet for whatever reason. It could be that you haven’t created your marketing campaign, created your website, or designed your logo. Some people might be worried about having their idea stolen. The truth is that if you’re not creating some hugely disruptive product then the chances that somebody will want to steal your idea, or that it’s even your idea in the first place are quite low.
It’s all about the secret sauce you put on it anyways. Newsflash: all these things we think we need to do first are just forms of procrastination! You don’t need them! Get out there and take action! Before you get hung up on the opinions of your dad or friend who says you need a pretty logo before starting, just get going. Those people might not understand business that well, and so will suggest these unimportant things to you, but there is a lot to do before the branding stage that will drive your business forward hugely.
Winning Trust by Showing Vulnerability
It is easy to get caught up in the lessons you might have learned from a different background and then apply them inappropriately to the context of your new business. For example, if you have been a designer before then you may think perfect branding is what you need to make your business succeed. This is becoming less true these days especially with the huge buying portion of the market which the millennial group has now claimed. These groups are using things like trust and amiability as benchmarks before supporting products, and the ability of an entrepreneur to show vulnerability plays a huge role in this process.
People trust brands that seem human, so remember you don’t have to have everything perfect before putting something out there. People want the behind the scenes take on a product they love, so forget the makeup or the filters, and share the raw truth of your process!
Top Strategic Tips for Validating a Product
This is for those of us who have just launched something. Maybe it succeeded and maybe it was a slight flop, but either way, we are not wondering what the next steps to take are to find that progress and take our business to the next level. How do we go about accessing some data to validate and tweak our product? Jessica recommends before any validation survey, one should spend some time finding out exactly what it is they want to discover. She likes to set up what she calls customer discovery interviews, phone calls she organizes with past customers whose details she has acquired over time. These can be done over Skype or Zoom and the point of them is to locate data points that can be used to drive decisions going forward. See yourself as a data forensic in this process. Do you have recurring customers? Ask them why they keep buying. If you know somebody who bought a product years ago and didn’t repurchase, that is a data point too. Why did they choose not to come back? Using a strategy like this will help you get much more clear on the landscape of your product and help you figure out how to keep that revenue flowing.
Prioritize: Don’t Take Action For Action’s Sake. [0:03:03]
Validating Your Product Through a Mixture of Intuition and Openness to Feedback. [0:15:00]
Stop Procrastinating and Take Action. [0:33:25]
Winning Trust by Showing Vulnerability. [0:43:46]
Top Strategic Tips for Validating a Product. [0:46:40]
Launch your product
Determine what you need to know to make it grow
Gather this data using surveys
Contact old customers to conduct surveys
Reasons for returning and non-returning customers are data points