Female Founders: Royce King On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Don’t DIY it. Because women can be great multi-taskers, they may try to do it all themselves. I know I was guilty of that. Stay in your lane and hire out the rest.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Royce King.
Royce Gomez-King is the perfect example of what a thriving female founder looks like. As a 20 year veteran in the startup space, she has the grit, the experience, and the wisdom to help guide other female founders on their road to the top. After rebuilding herself and her brand in the midst of a divorce, Royce was able to prove to herself and others that she could overcome any obstacle.
Today, her business spans internationally and she is acclaimed as an author, speaker, writer, and consultant. After the release of her book “27 Secrets of Marketing: Your Ticket to Maximum Revenue,” Royce was endorsed by original “Shark Tank” member Kevin Harrington as being “passionate about working with entrepreneurs to create a compelling message and deliver content that converts.” Royce has also worked with young women and teen entrepreneurs to help them grow creatively and learn to stand strong on their own. As a coach and mentor to many women over the years, Royce understands the unique challenges women face in highly competitive industries. She leads by example to show women that yes, you can do it all!
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?
As an entrepreneur, I began volunteering with MBA students, Startup Weekends, and business plan competitions. It excited me to be around this creative energy and encourage our next generation of entrepreneurs. By 2014, I began coaching and writing copy full-time. By 2016, my business went global, and I’ve been invited to speak on stages in several countries, appeared on hundreds of podcasts, and authored six books. Today I continue to serve as a mentor with Founder Institute and Energize Colorado.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I remember networking in Nashville and meeting a staff member of a social enterprise. From that meeting I was asked to cover a story for them. Trekking to Costa Rica with them started a “spontaneous journey” of doors opening to work with amazing companies. These stories are featured in my book, The Spontaneous Journey.
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? Who doesn’t make mistakes when they start?!
I still make mistakes. I had a luxury realtor hire me for a big assignment — my most extensive ever. Because I was so excited and didn’t want to lose it, I underpriced it. I did get the project, and he became a returning client; but, I left a lot of money on the table. Don’t ever get so hungry for a particular client that you devalue your services.
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?
I began volunteering on campuses at the prompting of a friend who was my boss at the time. She was receiving feedback that the quality of my coaching was stellar. She believed in me before I saw the potential in myself. Without her, I may have never achieved what I have today.
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 heard from an HR consultant once that women feel they need to meet more than 85% of a job description while men around 60%. Although this has nothing to do with entrepreneurship, I believe it shows that we have a lack of confidence in our abilities. There is also a disparity in pay. And, women historically have tended to take time off to raise families, etc which can detour your focus. When you’re starting a company, you need focus! Until recently, there has also been less willingness to fund women founders. Now there are VC groups specifically devoted to this.
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 believe we have the collective resources: WOB designations, VCs interested in women founders, angel groups that only fund women, and more. Individually we need to own that we can achieve just as much as men. As a matter of fact, VC statistics show that women-owned businesses are often more profitable. I can’t cite the exact statistic; but, I’ve seen it many times.
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?
Of course these are only my opinions, but based on data and research, here’s what I’ve ascertained. First, women tend to be more astute with money; therefore, they do their due diligence before making financial decisions. That’s important when you are building a company.
Second, they have a level of relational intelligence that men often don’t. This can assist them in developing JV partners and other stakeholders that can help them grow.
Finally, the reason I became a founder was to raise a family. Although I stated earlier that women take pauses in their career to raise a family, I designed my business around the lifestyle I wanted as my kids were growing up. Choosing my lifestyle is still more important than any other perk for me. We’ve recently seen Sara Blakely of Spanx have a successful exit, celebrated by her employees, all while raising a family.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
The biggest myth I often hear is a lack of funding. I believe, as with opportunity, funding is always there. We can look at a glass half full or half empty, our choice.
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?
The biggest trait is mindset. If you don’t have the willingness to work 80 hours a week with no pay, get rejected multiple times, and leave the security of benefits like PTO and retirement, you’re not cut out to be a founder.
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.)
- Belief in yourself. You must know that you are as good and as worthy as anyone else.
- Resilience. Face rejection, overcome exhaustion, and ignore the naysayers.
- Willingness to seek help. Success never comes alone. Ever. That’s one of the barriers to being VC-backed. If investors know you aren’t open to feedback, they won’t fund you.
- Financial acumen. Seek mentors that can help you invest wisely. I’ve seen too many founders either DIY everything or spend money throwing mud on the wall without a plan.
- Don’t DIY it. Because women can be great multi-taskers, they may try to do it all themselves. I know I was guilty of that. Stay in your lane and hire out the rest.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I have a passion for helping our next generation, and served as a mentor for DECA, JA, and entrepreneurial programs on college campuses. I hope my short time with these students has made a difference.
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 want people to truly believe they are worthy. Weekly someone will come up and share an unsolicited story with me about how they’ve lived as a victim. My goal is to help them see who they were created to be. That was the theme of my last book.
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.
Sara Blakely just sold her company and treated her employees with gratitude, giving them flights and money. I’d love to meet her and learn from her entrepreneurial journey.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.