How to Become a Million Dollar Woman — Part 2: Getting to the Triple Win
Julia Pimsleur, Founder and former CEO of Little Pim, author of Million Dollar Women, former documentary filmmaker (founder of Big Mouth Productions) and nonprofit fundraiser, has raised $26 million, ($6 million for Little Pim) to date. She joined SheWorx for breakfast to tell us how she did it and how we can too.
Read Part 1: Show me [more than] the money for Julia’s definition of the “Triple Win.”
Part 2: Getting to the Triple Win
You can only grow your business as big as you grow yourself
“You have your own set of ideas on what you can and can’t do, and until you look at that and dispel any self-limiting beliefs you have, you can’t do it.”
In her research, and in working with numerous other successful women entrepreneurs, Julia found that the three (simple, but not easy) things needed to go big and run multi-million dollar businesses came down to having the:
1) right mindset
2) right skill set
3) right network
The most important of the three? Mindset.
Julia knew she couldn’t just get rid of her self-doubt and become a new person overnight. So she got to the right mindset by visualizing herself driving out to a storage unit with her self-limiting beliefs and locking them away in Manhattan Mini Storage behind a big metal grate “just long enough to fundraise.”
“I never go back to get anything in the Mini Storage, and the good news is with those limiting beliefs, I never went back to get those either,” she said.
Armed with the right mindset, she was able to learn the right skillset through hard work and gain the right network through intentional networking, which she differentiated from normal socializing.
“How intentional are you being about putting yourself in situations where you can meet people who can help you take your business to the next level? How can you not be the smartest person in the room and put yourself in situations where everybody there can help take you to the next level?”
One other important skill to develop as a women entrepreneur, Julia noted, is delegation — thinking about how to scale things up such that when the business is too big to handle, it can be handed it off to someone else.
“You want to be building extraordinary systems in your company so that ordinary people can produce extraordinary results,” she said. “Please do not ever get mad at anyone who works for you ever, because if you didn’t set up a system for them, if you didn’t create a way for them to do their job that makes it easy for them to be successful — that’s your failure, not theirs.”
Doing the fundraising dance
“You can’t go out on the dance floor where everyone is doing the tango and be square dancing.”
Julia wrote Million Dollar Women as the book she wished she had read when she was learning the venture capital language, and she is invested in demystifying the fundraising world for women.
“There’s a dance, and everyone’s doing it,” Julia says. One of her biggest pieces of advice for women is to figure out what the dance is.
“It’s not hard. Some of it is going to annoy you and feel like ‘Why do we have to say it that way? That’s not the way I would say it!’ and at some point, those things may change, but for now, let’s just do the dance and get the money.”
In the SheWorx breakfast Q&A session, she offered some of her tips on the dance:
· Raise more than you need: It will likely take you longer than you think to achieve your desired milestones, plus, sometimes smaller raises are even harder than large raises! You need to sell the big billion-dollar vision, even if you may or may not achieve all of it. “Part of the dance is being able to say it — because if the five guys who were there before you all said it, and you come in and say, ‘Oh, we hope to make $20 million in the next 10 years…’ that’s just not going to cut it.”
· Don’t bother trying to raise only $1 million from VCs: It’s just too small a number. Julia advises going for angel at $500k, because VC’s take a large chunk of equity, so you don’t want go after VC money too quickly. You want to make sure you’re farther along in order to have a good valuation before you raise that money.
· You want VC’s to spend all their time on what’s unique about your company and not the business model: That means you should seek capital when you can hone in on what will grow your sales exponentially. “[VC’s] should already know your business model works — that’s not where they want to take their risk.” Figure out your unique value proposition and study your competitors to see what did and did not work for them. Julia learned the stories of Baby Einstein and Rosetta Stone cold before pitching Little Pim. She strongly recommends looking to companies that either use a similar model in a parallel space or that work directly in your space to use as a reference for investors.
· Feed a line that’s very easy to repeat about your company: For example, Julia’s pitch for Little Pim was “Rosetta Stone for little kids.” You don’t want to take a chance on what other people will say about your company. Make sure your pitch makes financial sense as well. Julia recommends pitching your company to a friend in finance and asking them to pitch it back to you to see what they heard in order to nail this down.
In the end, the SheWorx women at the table agreed, learning these skills and being able to successfully apply them stems from the right mindset — do you believe in yourself and whatever you’re pitching? As Julia answered when a friend asked for her secret when asking people for money:
“I don’t think I’ve ever asked anybody for money. I’ve only given people opportunities to take part in incredible nonprofit and for profit projects.”
Reserve your spot at at the next SheWorx breakfast with Ellie Wheeler, Partner of Greycroft Partners to sit at the table and get insights like Julia’s in person.