6 Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Avoid Doing It Alone20 November, 2017 / Articles
Entrepreneurship is a path well traveled. Knowledge is there for the asking. Eloise Bune, founder and CEO of handwriting.io, developed a digital handwriting app. It uses authentic digital handwriting across print and digital media. She is also the founder of ScribbleChat, which sends customizable, animated messages using unique handwritings, fonts and animation. It’s available through Facebook, iMessenger and Kik. Bune has raised $2.75 million of funding for her businesses.
Appreciate the vital role your significant other plays in your entrepreneurial dream.
Bune and her husband, Michael D’Agostino, agreed to support each in their entrepreneurial efforts. When D’Agostino lost his job as an investment banker during the financial crisis, he joined her company for about two years.
“My husband helped get the company off the ground,” said Bune. He advised on the business model, pitch deck, business plan, investor presentation and stock option plan. His guidance and support were invaluable. However, angels and venture capitalists often don’t look kindly on husband-and-wife teams. When they hit that wall, D’Agostino left to follow his own entrepreneurial dreams.
Speed up your success by participating in an accelerator program.
Startups that participate in accelerators typically receive mentorship, networking and introductions to resources such as investors or mentors. To potential investors, big-name customers and executive team members, graduation from a top accelerator, such as Springboard, is the equivalent of receiving an Ivy League degree.
Get advice from mentors and experts.
Successful women learn to seek the counsel of people outside their own businesses, including advisors, mentors or professionals in other fields. It was Janet Kraus, a serial entrepreneur and cofounder and CEO of Peach, who suggested that Bune join Springboard. Through Springboard, Bune met women who helped build her self confidence and skills. Lauren Flanagan, managing director of BELLE Capital, advised her to be authenticate and to have fun, advice she still values.
Bune was a nervous public speaker. Amy Millman, president of Springboard, matched Bune with Sam Horn, a presentation coach. She gave practical advice that helped her become a better presenter. For example, Horn suggests that you won’t get rattled when distractions happen during your presentation if you practice when you’re walking outside.
The mentorship paid off. It wasn’t until Bune let go of her ideas about how she thought she had to look and act — black dress, hair pulled back, acting stiff and formal — that she got Gillian Munson, then managing director of the Allen & Company investment bank, as an investor. Bune had presented to Munson before. However, it was when Bune confidently strode in, wearing a sundress, her hair loose and curly, that Munson invested in her company. Munson is now Chief Financial Officer of XO Group.
Find a business coach who knows how to bring out the best in others.
A coach can help you sound out new ideas, get a fresh perspective, evaluate opportunities, diagnose problems, develop, prioritize goals and hold you accountable, among other things. Interestingly, Bune and her husband use the same coach. They book two hours, one for Bune the other for D’Agostino. Each is silent during the other’s session but it’s a chance to get the full picture of what the other is going through and how each might help the other.
Find a business soulmate.
Bune wanted to take the company to the next level, which required raising a Series A round of financing. Her skills include fundraising and business development but not technology. She wanted help from a techie as ambitious as she is and with whom she has chemistry. “I encourage entrepreneurs to find their business soulmate,” said Bune. She used a matchmaker (well, a tech recruiter) to find Trey Stout.
Networks plays a vital role in scaling businesses. Build a good one! The larger and more diverse your network, the more likely you are to succeed in growing your business. Big corporations are also providing opportunities for high-potential women to gather, network and learn. Bune is a member of Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN). In the beginning, joining networks may be more about receiving but later it’s about giving. Now that Bune has become successful, she loves helping other women.