“STAY ready so you don’t have to…what ?” coaxed the emcee, extending the mic towards the audience.
“GET ready,” shouted everyone, beaming in response.
The exchange immediately electrified the room full of entrepreneurs gathered for the DC Google Digital Marketing Workshop in Honor of Women's History Month. But the idea of remaining in that stance—of being continually prepared and on the lookout for new opportunities—was the thread that wove together the entire event.
Taking place last Wednesday, the workshop fell on the eve of International Women’s Day. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to usher in this year’s call to #PressForProgress, denoting this year’s global #IWD theme.
After welcome remarks from Aisha Taylor, Google Digital Coach Program Lead, the workshop kicked off with an all-star panel:
Melodie Blackwell, Founder of SoleSavers, and Partner/Black Girl Ventures
Rakia Finley, Co-Founder of Fin Digital, and Angel Investor
Moderated by, Deloris Wilson, of BEACON DC, the panel explored the topic of “After the Startup,” and delved into discussing key strategies for new entrepreneurs entering business growth.
One of the first perspectives shared was why it's so important to be strategic and measured about the way you grow. A slow build was suggested, especially when hiring staff, “Don’t hire until you’re at TRUE full capacity. Meaning, until it takes more than 24 hours for you to get each day’s work in… plus, an additional 8, which will be the work that your first hire will be doing.” Another gem, know “...when to say WHEN, when to PUSH, and when to ASK FOR HELP.”
Ms. Finley heeded to also be mindful in ensuring the right hire, “When companies pick the wrong candidates, it is a 25K+ mistake.” She noted the importance ensuring that your team is not only qualified for the job, but also value-aligned. Choose staff that brings a different skillset from yours, but shares in your work ethic, she says. Lastly, she recommended being up-front with future staff about your leadership style, to give interviewers a real chance to gauge if they would be happy working alongside someone who offers direction in the way you do.
One piece of advice that caught my attention was shared by Ms. Blackwell. “Always be ready to pivot,” she said. “The opportunities are there.” She emphasized being willing to view your offerings from a different angle in order to capitalize on opportunities in the market. “Always pitch solutions,” she reminded us. As a brand strategist, I have a lot of conversations with small business owners on this same topic, and I tell them, be flexible; be responsive to what potential customers have to say.
“Start thinking about your business narrative and go to the physical places where people who want your service go,” added the SoleSaver founder.
Finally, Femly CEO’s advice, “Think about the lifetime value of a product,” really resonated. She spoke about how she started Femly as a feminine product subscription box, but is now moving to provide solutions for post-menopausal women, as well as for women who are expecting. Brilliant!
This was such key advice—to consider how your product can be used during different stages of a customer’s life or journey. Doing so can keep existing customers loyal to you for many years, as well as enhance your opportunity to gain new ones via different business or product lines.
Each of these were little light bulb moments for me, and I hope they will be useful to you also!
I encourage you to follow the links to the companies started by the panelists, and to connect with them on your own because they all expressed a sincere willingness to offer advice and resources. Shelly Bell, the Digital Coach for Google in DC, hosted the event and also invited everyone to reach out to learn more about the company’s programs in support small business.