Female Founders: Jo Davison On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
You don’t have to and should not wear all the hats e.g., don’t try to do everything yourself. When I first started out, I was worried about affording to hire a team. Then when I did, I still carried on doing to many of the tasks myself. (Wearing all the hats). This led me very close to being burnt out on several occasions. Get a power team of fabulous people who have strengths that are your weaknesses and focus on what you’re best at and leave them to do the same.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jo Davison.
Jo Davison is a Freedom Business Strategist, mentoring ambitious, motivated female founders in how to create a business that gives them freedom, time, money, confidence, and success on their own terms, without sacrificing themselves or their family life. Jo has a wealth of business experience having run her own seven-figure healthcare practice with her husband for several years with thousands of happy customers. As a business mentor, she has helped hundreds of business owners and thousands of their team members grow and scale incredible companies. She is also the founder of the Womanpreneur Success Club, for women who want to run a successful business and live a life they love.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I had a healthcare background and then started a healthcare practice with my husband. After a few years of highs and lows our business was doing well and began attracting attention from other business owners who wanted to know how we were running a seven-figure business that could run without us having to work in it if we chose not to, with a dream team and thousands of happy customers.
I became a business mentor unintentionally. It happened as I found myself working more on other people’s businesses, helping them achieve the success I had achieved in mine, as opposed to growing the core business. Eventually we sold the health care business and became focused on growing our mentoring and consultancy business.
I have been doing this for over ten years now and have worked with hundreds of business owners and thousands of their team members, helping them grow incredible companies.
I am a mum of four, so I had to design my business so that it works for me not just around me. I missed far too much when my kids were little and I appreciate how real the juggle is for female entrepreneurs, especially those with children.
Now I am well-known for speaking, mentoring, and writing a book that helps women achieve their business and life goals with freedom at the heart of it all.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I was invited to meet Oprah. I had had this on my vision board and so when the opportunity arose, I grabbed it with both hands. However, because I had a small child at the time and I didn’t want to leave her for long, I literally flew to Miami and back within 48 hours. I believe as women we have to pursue our dreams and find a way to make them happen.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I made lots of mistakes! On one occasion I was purposefully learning about recruiting the right team. I was really pleased to take on two ladies who I thought would be amazing. I had followed the recruitment steps I had been taught.
After a couple of weeks of working together, they had a massive argument in the reception area, in front of our customers, and after lots of swearing one stormed off and never came back. I was horrified.
It makes me laugh because until this, I thought I was making great progress with my new recruitment strategy. This taught me I was wrong, and so made me put in better steps to ensure this didn’t happen again.
Everyone starts somewhere!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My husband is my absolute rock. He is always right beside me and encourages me in everything I do. He pushes me professionally to keep moving forward and growing. I am extremely blessed to have him.
Also, I’d say my mum and mother-in-law have been incredible. They give me endless support with childcare, and this gives me tremendous help and peace of mind.
I also have an amazing power team at work and home and believe this is essential for all women in business. There is only so much time in the day and it is important we spend as much of that time as possible doing things we love and focus on our zones of genius. I am pleased to have my power team around me.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
I hear from many of my clients that they face a number of challenges. The top ones include
imposter syndrome and not feeling good enough or confident in their abilities. They also worry about seeming like yucky saleswomen — we work a lot on this and teach the mantra that sales are service. Many women also don’t believe they can have a successful business and a happy family life. We absolutely can if we have the right strategies in place.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
I think building confidence in schools in our early years and encouraging women to believe in themselves more and their ability to start businesses. Then support them once they have embarked on their business voyage, whether that’s through government.
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
More women should become founders because not only does it allow them to do something they love, but if they create the right systems and strategies, running a business gives them an amazing opportunity to literally ‘have it all’. They can make money on their own terms, make a difference to others and still be a great mum if they have kids.
There is also something incredibly empowering about being in control of our own destiny.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
The biggest myth is that you can’t be feminine and have success in both business and life. Some think that you have to sacrifice one for the other. I know you can have success in all areas of life and am passionate about helping other women achieve success on their terms too, with freedom at the heart of it all.
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
I am not sure that everyone is cut of to be a founder or would in fact want to be one. I know many amazing women who are employed and are doing fabulous things and are very successful. However, for those who want to be founders, they must appreciate that it is not a straight road to success. Every business owner has moments along the way where they may feel like giving up and getting a job. If you want a regular, set income and set hours where you can work and then go home and forget about everything at the end of the day, being a founder may not be the right path for you. However, with the right systems, you can create a business that gives you more freedom, less stress, and more money in the long run. I’m a firm believer though, that if you don’t at least try, how will you know what you are truly capable of. And being a founder is about doing things on your own terms in your own way.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- You don’t have to and should not wear all the hats e.g., don’t try to do everything yourself. When I first started out, I was worried about affording to hire a team. Then when I did, I still carried on doing to many of the tasks myself. (Wearing all the hats). This led me very close to being burnt out on several occasions. Get a power team of fabulous people who have strengths that are your weaknesses and focus on what you’re best at and leave them to do the same.
- Get confident with your finances. Create a strong financial plan and create ‘pots’ to manage your money. I found keeping a separate ‘tax’ pot, really helped with stress levels when tax payments were due. Rather than hoping there was enough in the main bank account. Keep your finances simple and believe you can run them well. If you struggle get help, but please don’t put your head in the sand.
- Don’t try to be perfect. Getting things done and improving them is better than not starting. At the start, I would find myself not implementing new things because I wasn’t sure they would work, or the conditions weren’t ideal. Letting go and getting things done helped grow the business. I don’t mean settle, just don’t wait until everyone and everything is perfect.
- Get a visibility plan in place. Have a lead magnet to grow your audience from the beginning. It is not stressful to get new customers if you have a plan. Don’t leave getting visible to chance. Ask yourself how many leads do I want? Set the target and measure your outcomes. Tweak the plan to ensure you hit them. So many businesses fail because they don’t get this part right.
- Make part of your business a reoccurring income model. Setting up a membership or subscription has been hugely valuable for both my business and my clients. Monthly reoccurring income allows us to have greater certainty about our income.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I have focused on serving other business owners and helping them to create success using the strategies that I discovered to achieve freedom and growth in my businesses. I have seen so many amazing outcomes, not only better businesses, relationships saved, a client who changed their mind about committing suicide because we were able to remove their stress, happier families because the business owner parents were no longer stressed out.
As well as the contribution, I’ve also supported charitable events and good causes that I believe in. Many of these have the theme of empowering women.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I am founder of the Womanpreneur Success Club. This is a club for women who want to run a successful business and live a life they love. I am passionate about helping women to believe in themselves more and having it all. If they are happier and feel successful on their own terms, this impacts their ability to make a difference, their family life and everyone around them. It’s early days for the WSC and I would love to connect with more women who own businesses and inspire them to follow their dreams. Business can be lonely and the WSC is a place that brings together all sorts of women, from all backgrounds and types of businesses.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would love to meet and have a private lunch with Sara Blakely (founder of Spanks). She is hugely inspiring with both her business achievements and her role as a mum to four children.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.