I know it’s a grand assumption to say that all women think and act this way but based on multiple conversations I have every year, it’s worth it to take a moment to talk about this. Similar to how topics like Why Your Background Matters, where its more of a systematic problem rather than superficial perspectives, the reason why women don’t dream big runs deeper.
Although we believe ourselves to be strong women — if not downright feminists acutely aware of the effects of society on our gender —I’m always surprised at how societal norms and how we raise girls affect my very own actions each day.
Your company projections aren’t supposed to be right. Everyone knows that you’re not going to be 100% accurate in predicting how your company will do in three years. But yet investors still ask you to send them. Why?
“Projections show a founder’s confidence.”
This is what a great mentor and investor told me. I let that sink in.
I had already sent in my “baseline” projections. Prior to sending them, I had a conversation with my team member and expressed with conviction to never be the next Elizabeth Holmes or Billy McFarland. I didn’t want to come off as some delusional dreamer/conman who burns through millions of dollars. I wanted to show that I’m credible and right. That’s when it struck me. Why were projections about being right rather than showing confidence?
Remember the statistics on how women apply for a job opportunity if they felt like they met 100 percent of the qualifications vs men applied with only 60% of the qualifications? Our need to be completely right hinders us from dreaming big. Michelle Woo talks about this in her article Teach Girls to Raise Their Hands Even When They’re Not Sure of the Answer.
“New research shows that by the age of six, girls believe they are less likely than boys to be “really, really smart.” Self-doubt can seep in through messages sent by parents, teachers, peers, cultural norms, and the media, messages that say: Stay within the lines. Be respectful. Don’t be too much. Do not fail.”
It was only then that I realized I’ve been conditioned to do the same. As much as I’d like to believe that I’m different, decades of societal and cultural norms have molded me to respond this way.
You Can’t Believe It Till You See It
Within the last 4 months, we’ve had seven private equity and venture capital firms reach out to us. 40% of those wanted to acquire us and the remaining wanted to invest in us. I questioned why they had reached out. We were, in my eyes, obviously way too early for them to interact with but yet I couldn’t figure out what the appeal was. Yes, there’s a shift to real estate tech to account for the extra attention but this much?
What these firms and my mentors saw, and what I was blinded to see, was our potential. They knew how large the market was and knew how feasible it was to scale Homads. Yet as a founder, I couldn’t express this bigger vision. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a dreamer and have big visions but to express it to investors seemed disingenuous. I felt I had to be 100 percent right in predicting our future rather than allowing our projections to be a medium in illustrating our potential.
It wasn’t until we started to grow organically that I was able to visualize the next steps. If we’re making this much money in Austin, what would it look like with 6 more cities? What about nationally? Globally? We have users asking us to grow into their city or move it over to their country even! The numbers made more sense because it seemed more practical. Crossing the threshold of getting your first booking (that took so much work in pitching the users)to organically recurring bookings (from complete strangers!) allowed me to see what Homads could be.
I have the great benefit of having a team of mentors, advisors, and investors who provide the patience and guidance to allow me to grow. They see just as much potential in me and our team, as they do in the vision of Homads.
Why Would Someone Believe in You if You Don’t Believe in Yourself?
As children, we look to our parents for approval. As we reach adolescence, we then seek approval from our peers. Somewhere between then and now, we’d like to believe that our sense of worth comes from within.
At times we forget or are so self-critical that we blind ourselves from what we are and can be.
I’ve said it multiple times and I’m saying it again, my advisors and mentors are my lifelines and although it may be a hard conversation, they’re not scared to challenge me.
Make sure to be deliberate in who you surround yourselves with. Cheerleaders are great when you’re feeling down but the ones that will push you to grow will be the ones to challenge you. Finding other women who have built bigger visions than you can imagine also helps you to see that it’s feasible.
To end off with some lighthearted advice from a good friend,
“Act like a lady. Think like a white man.”
All joking aside, remember that the guy that applied with just 60% of the qualifications ends up with the job. He doesn’t care and is confident he can fill that gap. Remember to stop being so cautious and exude the confidence you have.
Homads has great potential to grow worldwide. We can positively impact people’s connectedness to their community, and ultimately, increase people’s happiness in where and how they live.