Accessing capital is a necessary part of dream-building. Dreams need cash in order to scale and become viable. In order to do that you need investors who believe in you, support your vision and most importantly, want you to succeed. Two years ago I took a leap of faith and founded Momentum Learning because I am passionate about building the workforce of the future and building a strong, economically vibrant community. During the last two years, I have had many ups and downs and know it’s important to share what I’ve learned with other young female founders.
Believe In Yourself
Confidence is key. If you don’t believe in the words coming out of your mouth, no one else will. If you truly know that you have a viable business plan, the bigger vision to drive the narrative and the right people to scale it alongside with you – then you’re ready to become your own best advocate. If you don’t fight for you, who else will?
Pro-Tip: Hone your elevator pitch and say it out loud, then say it again, then sing it in the shower, then tell it to friends and family members until your faith is restored.
Temper Your Expectations
Rome wasn’t built in a day. I know you want to jump into product development and build, but it’s critical to have the right infrastructure, talent and tools in place. Taking time at the beginning to survey the competitive landscape, make investments in the software (or hardware) and people before you hit the ground running. The worst thing is to go live with a product you can’t support on the back-end. Customers will remember their first contact with your organization, and you want to knock it out of the park on the first impression. This is why you fight for capital—to spend it wisely on what matters and have the breathing room to do it right.
Pro-Tip: If you aren’t an expert in something (web development, building a tech stack, coding etc.), hire an expert to get it done right the first time)
Find Your Toughest Critic
Before your investor meeting, play it out with your toughest critic. This can be a family member, friend, professional mentor or business partner. It’s an unfortunate reality that women are under tougher scrutiny than men when going into pitches. You want them to hit you with every conceivable question they can think of to make you stronger, more sure of yourself and better able to articulate the outcome of your vision. Every battle will make you more resilient. And remember to reassure your toughest critic that you can take the heat. #bringit
Pro-Tip: Take that critic out to dinner and host your own private AMA-let them ask you any question until you are both ready for dessert!
Surround Yourself With Positive Energy
This doesn’t mean to have a team with unrealistic expectations. This means that when you are chasing your dream you should surround yourself with supporters who believe as strongly as you do. Their energy will be infectious and lift you up on the days when you feel like quitting. Energy is a life force; it’s the same reason why people work out with friends—they will push you to succeed and go farther than you ever thought possible. Your shared dreams will only make the whole stronger.
Pro-Tip: Spend time with people who lift you up, listen to music that inspires you, attend a conference or networking event. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and breathe the inspiration in.
Dirt Off Your Shoulder
Every day will not feel good. In fact, some days will be grueling. Think of every major accomplishment in your life—the feeling of victory didn’t come because someone handed it over to you. It came because of hard work, dedication and a drive to build something bigger – and this is the best combination for female entrepreneurship. When you have a setback, you’ll need to bounce right back. Some investor meetings will not go well, sometimes you’ll be sent back to the drawing board, or just plain demoralized. If investors, individuals or partners pass you up, they weren’t right for you, and your vision would have been compromised. Take time to clear your head after a negative meeting or a rejection and refocus on why you are doing this, why you are chasing this goal. Spend the next morning on a long run, have coffee with your mom, call your best friend and talk about nonsense. You will always be your own best advocate, but only if you can brush the dirt off your shoulder.
Pro-Tip: A hike is always a good idea.
Jessica Mitsch launched Momentum Learning in 2017 and currently serves as its CEO. Momentum serves the vibrant tech and business communities of the Raleigh-Durham Research Triangle by offering tech-based coursework and training, transforming careers and driving a modern workforce. Throughout her career, Jessica has held integral leadership roles in tech education. Prior to founding Momentum, Jessica was a founding member of code school The Iron Yard, then serving as its Executive Director, Growth & Strategic Partnerships.