a) Idea validation
b) Masterminding your vision statement
c) Defining your brand
Overview and what it is (at the beginning of the group make sure you discuss what the theme is and why having it is important)
At FGC, we strongly believe in getting the basics of your business right so you can propel it to even dizzier heights. No matter what stage you are within your business development, make sure the fun- damentals of it are perfected to a tee – such as its general vision and its mission. To help, we’ve put together some quick tips and crafted a special formula on how to mastermind the ideal vision state- ment. The vision statement is the future impact your business will have. It is a statement that will stay with you and remain true to the core of what you strive to achieve. What will be the legacy or change that your business delivers? Everything you do from product to branding and communication should always refer back to this statement. Having this will help focus inevitable pivots and choices that you will need to make in the growth of your business. Your vision is why you are doing this and it’s what will help push you forward when times get tough. Always remember why you are building and running your business.
Big business example
Airbnb’s vision is to live in a world where we “belong anywhere”.
“Go against the flow, find opportunities that solve a real problem and develop the persistence to turn your vision into reality” - Neha Narkehda Co-Founder of Confluent
What are the questions you should ask and why? Questions can be used as discussion points in your FGC group, for panels, or a way of mapping out what and how you will approach your business
Validate the idea and understand the problem you are solving:
What is the problem your business is solving? If you know there is a problem, then you have identified a gap in the market. Products and services are built by solving a problem at a price that fits the solution.
What other businesses solve this problem already or are trying to solve this problem? There will inevitably be some market competition. Even if it’s not the exact solution you are looking at, understanding how they have approached the solution will help validate that your approach isn’t being done better somewhere else.
When you create a survey, what questions will you ask? It’s key to know what you would ask in order to know if you are solving the problem.
Ask your friends, family, and anyone you know if the business and problems you are solving are valid and why.
Ask a community or an objective group if the problem you are solving is valid and why.
Does your vision evoke passion in you? You need to unequivocally believe in your vision because it will be what pushes you through the hard times and makes the good times roll. Repeat it over and over again to ensure that every time you say it, it still gives you goosebumps and a butterfly feeling inside your stomach.
Quotes from the FGC network
“The truth is the most important thing to know that you’re not wasting your time”
– Cathy Cao, co-founder of Gather.
“Do you actually want to run a business, or do you just want to create a cool project?”
- Phoebe Lovatt, founder of The Working Women’s Club.
“Just go out and be you. Don’t be overly formal; just be you”
– Anisah Osman Britton, co-founder of 23 Code Street.
Have a vision: this is the mantra that will set you apart in your industry, inspire your teams, and keep you connected to the bigger picture – even when you’re dealing with a crisis.
Be audacious: whatever plan for you have for your business right now, times that by 10!
Be authentic: you really have to believe in your own vision to have an effect on others, so please don’t lie or copy anyone else.
Be meaningful: a vision needs a divine purpose to get people excited before they even see the product.
Be clear, concise, and impactful: imagine this is your elevator pitch and you have less than 30 seconds to sell your idea. Define your objectives quickly, and in a way that captivates your audience.
Be inspiring: you want your employees and investors to be enthusiastic about working towards your vision.
Be long standing: remember that your product can change several times, but your vision should always stay the same.
Tools and Tips
Remember that your vision statement is a chance to define your business’s goals, ethics, and culture.
Our favourite vision formula was written by Michael Skok at the Harvard Innovation Lab. Vision Statement Formula: YOU + VERB + CUSTOMER + MARKET + OUTCOME = VISION
This single statement should be able to address the following: who you are; what you stand for; why you are doing this; what your business will do for its customers, the community, and the world; and why your customer’s life will be better because of your business.
Don’t forget to check Youtube.com/futuregirlcorp for a Video on how to complete this exercise.
a) Business model canvas
b) 5-year strategy (aka your business roadmap)
c) Making money (including revenue streams and business model/s)
Now you’ve got your vision for your business sorted, your mission is the plan you have in place to achieve your vision. That is, it’s the roadmap to your success. Now is the time to talk about planning and make some money (money talks right!?) Who is your customer? How are you going to actually establish a lasting revenue stream within your business? How will you develop your customer relationships? How will you realistically reach this audacious goal of yours, and when? Keep your eye on the prize with our business model canvas and business roadmap templates to get you moving on the path to success.
Big business example
“Our investors thought we had a unique idea that was totally new. They believed in our mission to advance women through community and trusted that we had the ability to scale the business while staying true to that mission.” - Audrey Gelman, Co-Founder, The Wing
The actionable plans you need to have in place to ensure that you can deliver your vision and create your mission.
Who is your customer? Who are you trying to sell your product to and why? What problem is your product or service solving for your customer? Why would they buy your product over anyone else’s?
What is a business roadmap?
It’s a strategic, time-based framework which charts a direction for growth and milestones within your business. Putting time against each milestone ensures that you are being realistic about the resources and time that you have to achieve these goals. It’s your timeline to achieving sales, and, ultimately, achieving profit.
How will you get your customers? Think about which channels and resources you can utilise to acquire your first and your future target customers.
How many customers do you need to make your business profitable?
What is your business model? A business model is an example of how you will gain customers and convert them into sales. For example, the Glossier model: its customers are between 18-30 so it will use digital communications, content, and social ads to create a community and convert a percentage of this customer base into sales.
Be ready to pivot. Your mission will evolve as your business grows, so you will need to ensure that you are always reviewing the effectiveness of your mission If things are not working well, pivot, and change course. This is not a straight road – it will have multiple bends and plenty of roundabouts.
“If you do not make a plan (you plan to fail)”
– Pia Stanchina, co-founder of Glossybox UK and FGC.
“The difference between a hobby, a project, a passion, and a business, is money!”
“Your mission is your focus, it’s what you can do now to achieve your vision for the future. It’s the foundation to the structure you’re building”
– Amy Thomson, founder of MOODY and co-founder of FGC.
Your mission will be the path you follow to reach your vision. However, it won’t be without its pivots, so be ready to adapt and change your mission.
It’s all about the mission now, so make sure that you set out a roadmap and timeline for your mission so that you know that what you want to achieve, you can deliver with the time and the team that you have.
Be refined and don’t go overboard. Highlight just three things for each section. Keep your points targeted and focused.
Identify risks: these are things which happen that are counter-intuitive to what you want your business to achieve. When planning, leave room to adjust things quickly if needed.
The biggest risk to your business is creating a business model and never looking at it again. It’s important to review it often and implement changes when needed.
Be nimble: confront any failures and be accountable to what they mean for your business. Then bounce back quickly, and adjust your model with what you’ve learned.
Talk it out: don’t struggle through this alone. It can be helpful to talk to other people and bounce your ideas off of them.
Tools and Tips
The Business Model Canvas by Strategyzer is our go-to worksheet here. Check them out for more resources.
Amy Thomson has a video on completing this activity on our Youtube.com/futuregirlcorp
a) Finding a co-founder (aka finding the yin to your yang).
b) Who you need and when you need them.
c) Recruitment and talent – this includes future forecasting.
Your business is finally off the ground so now it’s time to think about building the right team to take it to the next level. But wait – where do you find the right people to create your ideal A-team? And then how do you sell your idea to them when you don’t have a lot of cash to splash on staff? What are the right roles? Hiring people is like finding a romantic partner or attraction, honesty and passion can go a long way in turning the dating process into a business marriage. The other key thing to remember is that no one gets it right first time and this may just be the hardest part of your business. People are complicated, but they are the machine behind your vision and your mission. They will be the ones to help you pave the road to your success.
Big business example
“Even though we’re 1,200 people it still feels like it did in the early days when we first founded the company. That entrepreneurial spirit, the warmth, the friendships, are all there”
– Jenn Hyman, co-founder of Rent The Runway.
“I think one of the biggest lessons for me was how to lead authentically. I was really inspired by Cheryl Dalrymple, who is the CFO that I eventually hired at Polyvore. When I first met her, I just remember being really blown away. She taught me that you can be a leader while still being very warm, and very authentic, a little quirky. After I met her and realized she had this quality, and I could learn a ton from her, I bent over backwards to just try to hire her, to try to get her to be an executive at Polyvore so that I could learn as much as possible from her. That’s maybe another lesson, surround yourself with awesome people who you admire.” - Jess Lee, Founder of Polyvore, Sequoia Capital
When do you need a team and how do you get them?
Do you have all the skills and income to scale your business alone? If not, have you considered bringing in a co-founder? They will be taking the same risks as you, but bring a totally different set of skills? They need to be the yin to your yang. Be mindful that as a business scales, roles will become even more defined and having too many people on a senior level with the same skill sets can put your business in a very political and frustrating place.
What are the key skills you don’t have and how many of these skills fit into roles? Craft your recruitment and your team based on the essential skills and deliverables that you need to make your product, service, and business, a success.
How much is the market average for these roles? But also, what can you afford? Be clever about who you recruit and how you recruit them. You can use LinkedIn and other web services to scope out your team structures and strategies.
What are the financial milestones which indicate that you can afford to take on new staff and employees?
Can you build technology that will automate your product or service? If yes, look at who you may need to hire as a technical co-founder or CTO (chief technical officer).
How well do you know yourself and your business values? These values should underpin everything, from the hiring process to undertaking performance reviews.
“Recruitment relationships begin everywhere”
– Ruth Penfold, director, talent acquisition of Shazam
“(Just as you’d) pitch to an investor, you’re pitching those same principles to your potential employees”
– Amy Thomson, founder of MOODY
Prepping, passion and processes are the keys to success.
Network! The possibilities are endless when it comes to meeting the right people: They could be sitting right next to you at an event, or on the bus, in your exercise class – who knows. So don’t be afraid to get out there and mingle.
Prepare: when it comes to interviewing, implement a structure that keeps your business looking professional. Create a Word document or a Google spreadsheet that maps out your hiring process, from the interview questions to delegating who will send out an email explaining the applicant has been successful. In the interview, include a discussion about brand values, the interviewee’s motivators, and productivity level, your expectations, their expectations, and the future goals of both them and your business.
Show your passion! The best way to get people onboard with your business is by getting them excited to be part of the experience: A founder’s excitement feeds the business. This means that from the get-go, you need to explain why and how your business is going to change the life of your customer, as well as why they should join up. Ensure you are the most transparent version of yourself because you’ll be spending a lot of time with these people.
Don’t hire in your image: You need to get to grips with what you’re good at and what you’re not good at and then hire people to do the stuff you’re not good at.
Keep a paper trail: everything you do with your employees is about processes, so make sure you go through all the right procedures when hiring, and keep a record of absolutely everything. That way, if someone is underperforming, you have a record to prove that you’re not being unjust. It’s really important to be fair to people and give them a real opportunity to turn it around, but also you need to make sure you’re covering yourself and your business during this process.
Invest in a good lawyer: go out for a coffee with them and they’ll usually be happy to give you basic advice for free because they are trying to woo you as a potential client. You’ve got to protect yourself and those working for you, so creating good employee contracts is important. And be early when presenting these contracts. Send rough terms over email and when everyone agrees, your lawyer can draft up a development contract.
Tools + Tips
• If your candidate is successful, send out a little welcome note before they join you. Call them to update them on the business if there is a gap between the interview and when they start work. Things like this help get your potential employees feeling valued and important.
•With the recruitment process, everything is up for negotiation, whether using a recruitment agency to help you hire or working out the kinks in salary expectations. Draft a budget for what you’re willing to spend on the recruitment process, bearing in mind that agents normally take approximately 7 - 20% of an employee’s salary.
• Your values are the values of your business, so it’s a good idea to create a deck with information about what your business is about as soon as possible. That way, your future staff understand the code of your company and you’ll be creating citizens that can cope on their own when you’re not around to constantly feed them energy and enthusiasm. See Netflix for a good example of this.
a) Customer Acquisition
b) User Profiles
c) Launch Plan
One of the first things you should be doing when developing your business is to figure out who it is that you are designing it for. To do this, you need to get to know your audience and understand who your crew is. Who is your target audience and how are you planning on reaching it? What do the people in that target market want and how you can you help them get it? We walk through customer and client persona’s to give you a key framework for future business decisions. To understand your target audience – its makeup, needs, motivators, and communication channels – you need to think as your customer does in order to acquire them. This is one of the first things you need to get to grips with when developing your business. The better you know your customer, the better you can engage with them, and the more likely you are to convert that engagement into sales. To help this process, we suggest you develop 3 -5 customer personas. A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and/or real data about any existing customers.
Big business example
“It came from a personal need. I’m very, very focused on how brands and people interact. If you look at travel–it’s this thing that a ton of people pay a lot of attention to: where they go, how they fly, what they wear, what they bring. That attention to detail stopped short of luggage. And that’s because there’s not a luggage brand out there that talks about the way we actually travel or that really wants to connect with people about their experiences.” – Jen Rubio, co-founder of Away.
How do you want to talk to your customers and build awareness of your business?
Demographics: what is each personas' name, age, gender, job, ethnicity, relationship status, and location? The more information you have, the better. But only compile data that is actually relevant to your business.
Motivations: what do your persona’s care about? This is really important, so try listing 3 things that get your customer out of bed every day.
Tone and style: what’s your persona’s vibe and tone of voice? Are they traditional or trendy; upmarket or street? Whatever they are, you’ll need to embody this in the way that you present your brand to them.
Pain points: these are about thinking about what problems you can solve for your audience. By understanding this, you will know what you should actually be offering them, and therefore you will build a better brand.
Life goals: where do your persona’s want to get to and how can you help them get there? Understanding this section is really helpful in the development of your product.
Influences: who is actually buying your product? For example, if your persona is a child, then the parent will most likely be buying the product for them. Who is recommending your product?
“Serve a few people 100%, rather than lots of people 50%”
– Sharmadean Reid, founder of WAH London and Beautystack
“They are the key to making every decision in your business”
– Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder of CognitionX
“User profiles are such a simple concept that often gets overlooked”
– Lisa Roolant, content strategist at Beyond
Good PR and marketing should earn you customers and build your brand.
Know your business’s audience and understand who they are, what they want, and how you can help them.
Ensure customer personas' are based on patterns across several different people and not just on one single individual. If your data is replicated across more people, then you’ll know it’s reliable.
Create and keep fans by thinking about how to bring them to your business. What does your business stand for and how is it engaging with a community which your customers already connect with? Use newsletters to create weekly or monthly engagement tools. Always encourage feedback.
Make sure you enable culture. The brands and businesses that are most successful are those which not only provide a product or service but also allow and create a culture for its audience. For example, Nike looked at the culture of its industry and engaged with it. Bill Bowerman would famously turn up to race tracks in an old VW Camper Van and trial Nike shoes with the track and field community in Oregon.
Creating social channels is free, so engage these by thinking about which will best suit your business, and then develop a strategy for how best to optimise them. This strategy should talk to the audience with content that they are interested in and in a format that suits the channel. For example, Facebook is best for long-form news and current affairs, Instagram is your shop window and a platform for aspirational images, and YouTube is your chance to create a video that speaks to your audience about your products.
Tracking your communications will be an ongoing journey and will evolve as the industry and your audience does – but it is a necessity for your business. What does your audience best respond to and what will convert that to sales? Always refocus by using live insights and audience metrics.
“One of the opportunities and one of the challenges with brands today is there are so many more ways to express yourself. If you think about the last cycle, you had a physical location and a glossy photo in a print magazine. It was very two-dimensional in how you could express yourself to the consumer. Today, you have both of those plus a website, plus social media, plus email. The companies with the most reach and the founders with the deepest connection to the consumer are able to show up in all of those different places in unique ways and tie it all back to the brand’s central mission” - Kirsten Green, Forerunner Ventures
a) Budget management.
b) Quick and dirty operating (aka keeping it lean).
This module is here to help us all learn more about the importance of investing and saving, which will include the practical ways of financing future lifestyles, understanding equities, and building an investment strategy. Making sure that you are stashing a bit of cash away for later can seem counter intuitive in the early years of your business, but trust us – you’ll be grateful you did! This module also takes on the basics of accounting for your business; what to manage yourself, when to get help, and tips for keeping on top of your accounts.
Big business example
On budgets - “Just go for it. Too often, women have a confidence gap that makes them pause and slow down while men dive in and learn as they go. Just go for it!”
– Kathleen Murphy, president at Fidelity Investments
The basics of accounting; both business, and personal. Out: What are your out-costs? Try and keep these as lean as possible to start with. You need to think about what you really need to achieve your mission road map and then cost this up.
In: what are your in-costs? Even if you don’t plan to make a profit from day one, you need to think about how you will acquire inbound cash to kick start your vision and mission. This could be through investment, customer sales, or a clever way of hustling for some early capital.
Money: time is money and money is time. How much time do you think it will take to hit each of your milestones? Ensure you have a clear month to month plan for what you are spending and how you are going to make this money last. Know what your red flags are and when you will be running low on money, so you can do some extra hustling before you run out of gas.
Retention: keeping money in your business is key. How much money should you keep in? If your bank account is at 0 have hit the finish line (should this be ‘you have hit the finish line?’. Work out what your minimum operating costs are for 3-6 months and try to keep this money available. This will give you a psychological and physical runway in order to pivot or fundraise if you need to. Even a 1-month float is better than none!
Forecasting: this is a 1-year plan for when and how you anticipate the inbound money that you aim to acquire will land. How, when, and where do you think this money will come from?
“The sooner you start saving, the more you’re going to have at the end” and “It’s worth being a tiny bit more broke today in order to be richer when you retire”
- fgc Member
“If you don’t have enough money in the bank to pay your staff, you are bankrupt. Your company doesn’t exist anymore. That’s how quickly it happens”
– Claire Pettitt, international operations at Bumble
“As a founder, you should have an understanding of every single thing financially in your business... I take a ruler and look through every line on the bank account, what was spent, and what wasn’t”
– Sharmadean Reid, founder of WAH London
When thinking about finance, remember this is the paper trail that shows you’re a boardroom business not a bedroom business
Housekeeping: it is crucial that you keep track of your budgets, forecasts, expenses, and spending. It is what proves that your business is functioning. It also says a lot about how you run your business and if you are someone who thinks in terms of profit and strategy. If this is not your strength, employ someone to help. Use systems like Xero – Receipt Bank, and other digital accounting systems to give you a digital infrastructure to keep track of it all.
Employee benefits: it’s important to take into account the costs that you and your employees might incur outside of salary. Look for some good online services to help you manage benefits and the costs for things such as pensions and health care.
Reinvest: as a general rule, saving 15% of your disposable income is the ultimate goal. We use the same metric for what to reinvest in your team, culture, and brand.
Monitor cash flow: this is so important! Always assume that you’re going to bring in less money than you think and that you will spend more money than you think. The minute that you spy a potential problem where you’re going to run out of money in a few months, drop everything else and get yourself a loan.
Schedule reviews: when you’re at the beginning stages of your business, you should be having a weekly check in on all of your finances. Once you grow and start becoming cash positive, you can move it to once a month. Enlist the help of an employee to keep you focused and stop it feeling overwhelming or boring.
Reporting: even if you don’t have a board yet, it is good practice to create monthly financial reports. This can be a meeting or an email summary, but ensure you look at the good and the bad. It will operate as your monthly milestone to look at what needs to change, what is working, and where you potentially need to pivot now or in the future. Your finances are the true success and failure stories of your business. Know them inside out and use them as a tool.
Tools and Tips
• Read up! It may seem scary but try and pick up the Financial Times or the business section of The Times, and The Telegraph.
• Use tech to manage your accounts – Most markets will have accounting software like Xero in the UK. You will still need an accountant to file your accounts, but enterprise software will help you to keep on top of everything.
• When looking for an accountant, GET REFERENCES! – Accountants can make or break you, do your research as ask for references. Ask them for examples of where they have been flexible for a client that had bespoke needs or that was growing fast. Do the same with the bank you choose.
a) Pre-launch perception.
b) Pitching and story telling.
The minute you begin talking about your idea, you are being judged. How do you share your vision with others; your team, your investors, your customers? How does that translate into the company culture? How do you conduct yourself in meetings and when you’re networking? Culture is created whether you like it or not, so this workshop is aimed at helping you to craft and control what it means to be you. This module highlights why you shouldn’t underestimate the finer nuances of perception, language, or image. In order to do this, we will give you actionable tips and insights on how to effectively communicate your vision to the outside world. This means we will cover face-to-face chat, communicating your idea online, and how to create your brand strategy. This will underpin all the relationships you build personally and professionally, so lets work to get that story right!
Big business example
“I never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard” – Estée Lauder, co-founder of Estée Lauder.
Manage perceptions and clearly communicate your idea.
Search on Google and through social media to see what’s already out there and what you can easily find in relation to your business idea. Who is doing what on those platforms? How will you communicate your company culture?
How have you validated your business idea before you launch to ensure it has a potential audience before investing your time and money into it? Who are the key practical key holders in your business? You need to nominate people to be responsible for admin in your business if you don’t have the capacity or scale to employ people. For example, who is your IT person? Who is responsible for first aid?
Are you conscious of your audience and how what you’re wearing, or how you’re speaking, appeals or doesn’t appeal to them?
Are you able to confidently state what the problem is, state what your product is, and then state how your product solves that problem, to journalists?
Who are the Angels and independent investors who are investing?
“The first thing I put out was a blog ... saying this is the problem and this is how, in my opinion, it needs to be solved”
– Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, co-founder of STEMettes.
“How you speak to all your different channels and different audiences is super important”
– Sharmadean Reid, founder of WAH and co-founder of FGC.
It’s no use if you understand your idea but no one else gets it!
Walk the walk and chat the chat: meet new people and go to networking events. When introducing yourself to someone, say who you are and what you do in one snappy sentence. When talking about your business, give the name of the product or service, when it’s available, where it’s from, and when it launches.
Be conscious of your audience and how what you’re wearing appeals to different people. You can mix and match to tick both the serious and personable boxes.
It’s helpful to keep your domain and social media handles the same so that your audience can find you quickly and easily.
Keep an eye on your SEOs and social media platforms such as Twitter. Be mindful of how you’re communicating information about your business online.
It’s important to start thinking about what an executive team looks like within your business. Profile the people that can take your business from founding to growth.
Ask yourself: what are the 3 most important things that I need to get done in the next month that will really have an impact on my business? Keep focused on those 3 things and don’t go overboard with trying to do everything at once.
a) On-boarding (aka what makes your business unique for your employees? And will look at onward and outward perception).
b) Managing a team and people (here, we will look at hierarchies and structures, as well as reviews and paperwork).
Company culture can often be something that people put off, or think will evolve as your business evolves. But it should be something that you craft and draft in the same way that you think about your mission. It should feed off your vision and be inherent in how your team understand your vision. Your company culture will define how productive your team is, how passionate, and how integrated it is with your service or product. Your culture is the soul of your business, and can even act as a tool to attract new customers and employees. However, you should also think about the practical side of company culture too. From contracts, benefits schemes, mentor schemes, introduction handbooks, HR, and organisation charts. All these things will take you from a bedroom business to a boardroom operation.
Write a Vision, Mission and Values document that you would give to new Employees Write an Operating Principles document to show how you like to work.
Culture isn’t just ping pong tables and perks. Its the fundamental principles that bind your team together.
Big business example
“As a leader, I am tough on myself and I raise the standard for everybody; however, I am very caring because I want people to excel at what they are doing so that they can aspire to be me in the future.” – Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo
What is your vision and how can you make this apply to your culture?
How will you communicate your company culture?
What is your team structure and how are you communicating this?
Who are the key practical key holders in your business? You need to nominate people to be responsible for admin in your business if you don’t have the capacity or scale to employ people. For example, who is your IT person? Who is responsible for first aid?
Who are the external experts that you need? Do you need consultants or friends to help sense check your Company Culture?
“Very early on in WAH, I remember sitting for 2 months and writing the Employee Handbook ... and it’s literally saved my ass for the last 6 years”
– Sharmadean Reid, founder of WAH London, Beautystack and co-founder of FGC
“Articulate your values early about what’s really important to you in the kind of people that you hire and the kind of ways that they work”
– Claire Pettitt, international operations at Bumble
“Get-togethers in person are still essential”
– Claire Pettitt, international operations at Bumble.
Good company culture is how you will be known in your industry. Your team are your best, or
your worst, industry PR.
Be clear so that everyone in the business understands what the vision is and how it relates to them.
Benefits: everyone in the business needs to understand how the company culture benefits them. If you can build an ideology that everyone is brought into, you can drive productivity.
Contracts: everyone in the business needs to understand their contractual agreements and what is expected of them.
Functional: everyone in the business needs to understand who to ask for in terms of finance, HR, IT, and admin.
Fair: get your team and peers involved in the company culture, sense check with your lawyers, and make sure the structure seems fair for you as a business but also for the employees.
Listen: you might have created what you think is the best company culture plan, but make sure you listen to feedback from your team and be ready to use that feedback to tweak or change how the structure works.
Tools and Tips
• There are many examples of Company Culture documents from famous companies on Slideshare.
a) Funding Sources/How To Raise Funds (aka who are investors, what is good v bad money, and how to identify timewasters).
B) Why investors say no.
FGC is not just about building businesses that need to fund raise, but it is important to understand why and when this might be a consideration for you. Fundraising is time-consuming and can be distracting from running your business, so don’t rush into it – especially if you don’t have to. It is important to understand and discuss why, when, and how to start fundraising. There are plenty of reasons that fundraising will help you scale your business quicker and validate the market opportunity. Knowing the game and the rules is the first step to assessing if this is the right move for you. Firstly, it is important to understand the type of fundraising that you are doing. Are you looking for individuals or
a fund? Do you want to be in an accelerator with infrastructure and support to help you scale, or is crowdfunding a good option? Set the scene for who you want to bring into your business before you think about the cash. Fundraising is like dating, you need to think about the type of match you want and why before you start putting yourself out there.
Big business example
“It also allows for Bumble to scale, without needing to seek outside capital,” adds Wolf. “That is an important part of what makes this a highly unique and opportune deal. For a company like Bumble with such incredible growth, this strategic move has been invaluable when it has come to easily and seamlessly solve common startup issues such as scale and infrastructure”
– Whitney Wolf, founder and CEO of Bumble, speaking to TechCrunch about her capital raise.
Should you fundraise, and what should you think about?
Why: how will a fundraise enable your business? Ensure you have a solid rationale for how a fundraise will help you scale and monopolise on a market opportunity and deliver your vision.
What: what will you be spending the money on and how long will it last? This is called your burn budget and runway (is this unfinished?).
Who: who are the types of people or funds that will help you reach your vision and target? Research this intensely; these are the people you will be marrying when it comes to your business.
How, where, and how: will you meet these people?
Market: what other businesses have fundraised in your sector, how much money did they fundraise, and who did they fundraise the money from?
Value: what are the valuations of the sectors that you’re accessing and the other businesses in your sector? Based on this, and the amount of money that you are looking to secure, you can work out the percentage equity that you will be selling.
“Think about fundraising like organising your ideal networking event; who would you choose and why? What would you present, and how would you connect the dots for people?” – Amy Thomson, founder and CEO of MOODY.
Types of Funding - Written by Techpanda.com
1. Personal Savings. This is the most appealing source of financing because you use your own money to jumpstart your business and don’t owe anyone else in the process.
Pros: You have total control of your business, and you may do as you please with your money. There’s this satisfaction that you are using your own cash to fund the business.
Cons: If the business fails, all the hard work that you had put into your savings will go to waste. You may miss out on otherwise valuable guidance and mentorship from angel investors and venture capitalists.
2. Family and Friends
You can request your friends, family or close associates to help fund your business. This type of funding has more to do with the relationship itself, rather than the assessment of a feasible business plan. The aim of this type of funding is to help kick off a business to a point where it can seek and get other types of funding.
Pros: Faster funding process and flexible payment methods.
Cons: Family and friends provide the funding without assessing the viability of a business plan itself. Brings nothing to the table except for the initial capital investment.
This involves funding a business by taking small amounts of capital from a large number of people, usually via the internet. This type of funding makes use of the vast networks you’ve of your friends, family and colleagues via different social platforms to get the word out about the business, with the goal of attracting new investors.
Pros: Has the potential of expanding a business by getting a pool of investors who can help raise funds.
Cons: Requires time and dedication before results may be realized.
4. Angel Investors
Angel investors are wealthy individuals who will provide funding in exchange for a share of equity in the business. Some investors work in groups and screen deals together before providing funds, while most work on their own.
Pros: Angel investors can offer valuable advice and guidance since they have experience in the industry you’re in. Flexible business terms.
Cons: You may be forced to give up control of your business to some extent.
5. Venture Capital:
Venture capitalists are investors who put in a considerable amount of money in exchange for equity in the business and get returns when the business goes public or is acquired by another company. Venture capitalists are all about the money, and only invest in businesses that have the potential of providing good returns on their investment
Pros: Venture capitalists not only provide funding but can offer expertise and mentorship to help develop the business. Venture capital funding gives the business immediate credibility and opens other doors to a wide network of important individuals, such as future investors and partners.
Cons: You may be forced to give up a large chunk of your business due to the significant amount of funding provided. VC backed business are expected to grow at a phenomenal rate.
6. Bank Loans
Bank loans are a popular source of funding for many startups. Before applying for a bank loan, it’s important to ensure that you are well educated about the various options available, and the interest rates that come with each option.
Pros: There are different funding options depending on your needs. The funding process is relatively quick if you qualify.
You don’t have to give up control of your business.
Cons: Requires a lot of documentation, which can be tiring and time-consuming. You need to educate yourself about the best option available for you; otherwise, you might end up choosing a deal that will eventually hurt your business. The money has to be paid back whether the business succeeds or not, failing which may lead to loss of your assets if any.
7. Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans
This involves funding from a government administration devoted to assisting small businesses to succeed. SBA’s help small businesses get capital and ensures that a certain percentage of contracts are awarded to the small businesses.
Pros: Helps improve the relationship between lenders and borrowers. Increased chances of obtaining a bank loan if the SBA loan is properly managed.
Cons: Strict qualification guidelines.
To help you choose the ideal funding source for your business, make sure to review your financial needs, qualifications, and the urgency of financing. Some funding sources need certain requirements to be completed before you qualify. It’s thus important to ensure you are well educated on the various options available to you, and their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Spend time really understanding and researching the market opportunity: Be the master of your current and future market with statistics and insights.
Strategically choose and approach your potential investors with an introduction: Find introductions by approaching other businesses that they have invested in, and explain why you are looking to fundraise and meet their investors. Make it easy and draft an email with all the information, so that they can forward it on if they feel comfortable. It is time-consuming, but first-hand introductions are very important.
Build a network: It doesn’t matter if someone decides not to invest after taking a meeting with you, you should still treat every meeting as a networking opportunity. Think network, network, network!
Time and targets: fundraising from Angels or VCs can take on average 6 months, from start to closing the cash. This means you need to ensure that you allocate enough time to keep the business and/or your life moving. Don’t try and rush this, or you could end up with the wrong investors for your business.
You are the reason that someone is investing in your business: Make sure you build in time and reflection for yourself. This is a marathon, and if you burn out in the process then it can be hard to come back from it. Remind yourself every day why you are doing this and what your vision is. It’s also important to take mini-breaks from the process to ensure that you optimise your motivation.
Never stop refining your content: It will always evolve and you will take some harsh feedback and criticism so be ready to use this as free advice to get you closer to your goal.
a) Physical, emotional, and mental health (aka looking after number 1).
FGC was built from a network of women who supported each other – not just in work and business, but throughout life’s highs and lows. Running a business is not easy. It takes grit, passion, and determination. It is also very lonely and can leave you feeling burnt out from the momentum that you need to keep moving it forward. Wellbeing and self-care are crucial to the success of you, and you are integral to the success of your business. If you are an individual founder, co-founder, or even a co-operative, you need to look after the central core of what drives your passion and perseverance. Wellbeing should not be a side note, it should be central to you as a founder and to your team’s development. From large to small, the businesses that put wellbeing in their budgets and business plans are those that can sustain themselves for longer.
Big business example
“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in”
– Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, as written in her book, The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.
“At a personal level, I know I need to balance a demanding work life with a peaceful, recharging time spent with friends and family. I’ve learned that I usually need two days of not working before I’m able to let go of work and be fully present.” - Mathilde Collin, CEO and Co-Founder, Front App
Avoiding burn out and keeping your motivation.
How do you unwind? And when did you last do this?
Who do you phone when you have a bad day at work, and who can you always rely on to sense check you?
Who have you asked to be your mentor and how are you ensuring that you carve out time to ask for advice? Make sure you also give back in the same way. How are you sharing some of your time to give back and share wisdom and experience? Don’t forget, this is a two-way street and mentoring should go both ways.
What music or cultural escape that you can use to help change your mood or switch your energy from negative to positive?
Where is a place that you can you escape to, which will give you a fresh perspective, or reset your thoughts or ideas?
What are your personal goals and milestones? Who do you want to be and how do you want to feel at work? You are as important as your employees, so don’t forget to think about your own employment needs.
Good wellbeing and self-care are key to senior team survival, and therefore the survival of your business. No one ran a successful business when they were burning out.
Sleep! It’s a well-known fact that by having a good night’s sleep you (sentence ends here?)
Speak up! Don’t sit alone with the stress that you are feeling. Share the pressure and talk to your peer group and the women around you. Shared experience is powerful.
Contracts: everyone in the business needs to understand their contractual agreements and what is expected of them.
Take time to get to know your limits and if you begin to hit walls or burn out, take the time you need to reset. Humans are fragile, and by pushing your body and mind too far, you can do serious damage.
Treat yourself even if it is a small win and be sure that you say well done to yourself. When you’re running a business, not many people will actually say well done to you.
Sharing is Caring! Don’t just share the successes of your business, also share the challenges and how you overcame them. Success doesn’t come in a straight line, so sharing your winding path is both good for you and it can also help inspire more women in business.
Rest your brain by setting aside at least 15 mins every day to clear your mind. Find a form of meditation that works for you. The app Headspace
Tools and Tips
Set out a personal reward system by writing down the list of things that will help snap you out of a low spiral and be sure to refer to it when you do hit a low.
10. MEASURING SUCCESS
a) Data & KPIs (aka what is data? And how to understand data). b) Utilising and understanding your database.
c) Understanding when and how to pivot using your data.
Most people when they are starting a business think success is commercial. But to hit those big commercial wins, you need to be nimble and smart with how you use data to inform and evolve your business model. Who is your audience and where do they come from? How is it engaging through social channels? What are they buying the most and how frequently do your customers come back? These questions can help you unlock some of the facts behind your golden metrics, which include: LTV (lifetime value of a customer) and CPA (cost per acquisition of customers). Understanding how and what you want success to look like for your business is key to the foundations of its successful growth. Setting out your KPIs (key performance indicators) shows that you’re thinking strategically long-term. It should also inform the infrastructure that you put in place to capture your metrics and data. The key to this is to know what data you need and what you want it to tell you so that you can ensure structure and back-end systems with automated outputs. If you’re web-based, then be nimble and use Google Analytics. No matter what your business, there is commercial value in the data you hold. The long and short of this is that every business needs to be thinking about data, data, data.
Big business example
“It’s tempting to start thinking about metrics by simply brainstorming a long list, but this can quickly get unwieldy and hard to prioritize. Ideally, you want a small set of key metrics that everyone on the team cares about. To figure out what those are, you need to start at a higher level: identify your goals so you can choose metrics that help you measure progress towards those goals.” - Kerry Rodden, ExYoutube/Google Data Science
How can you build a business that has long term value and evolution?
What are your KPIs and why?
Where will you be getting your data from? For example, will it come through social channels, Google Analytics, or asking your customers directly?
What information do you need from your customers to help use their insight in order to refine your business model in the future?
Where will you store this information? For example, can you create a dashboard system to help report it?
How frequently will you capture and track your data?
What are the legal implications of storing data in your territory?
Good metrics and data are your pivot tools. When, why, and how to (this was unfinished)
Segmentation: think about how you segment your data and information to make it easy and relevant for you. For example, is it helpful for your database to auto-populate based on the geo-location of where your customers are based?
Easy reporting: by setting out a good framework for what and why you are pulling data, it shouldn’t take more than 30 mins to get the information you need.
Customer data: is hugely valuable, but you need to always ensure that if you’re taking data, it is stored securely and that you have signed terms and conditions from any customer when you hold it. Be certain that you are abiding by your country data policy law and legislation. You should always seek legal advice if you are holding customer data.
Let your data steer your business: use your data as a benchmark against your competitors and set out growth targets for your business. If your direct competitor is growing 25% quicker on its social channels, look at why. If you can see your customers are more engaged with one product over another, then focus on that product.
Fact not fiction: data can be interpreted, so make sure you are real with what the data is telling you, even if it is not the news you want. Let the negatives help you pivot and change direction towards positives, and more importantly, growth. Turn a bad data story into a fact-based pivot.
Tools + Tips
• Google Analytics is the best example of a dashboard system that can help you to read how and what is working in your business. Even if you’re not a web-based business, try to understand how it works, and use this to inform a system that works for your business.
• Pick a single North Star that will show the health of your business and work backwards on how to measure it accurately.
11. WRAP PARTY
a) Meeting in the real world
b) Inviting your audience
c) Sharing the experience
Real world meet-ups are at the heart of FGC. The monthly events are great, but hosting a summer and winter wider community get together has really inspired new thinking and new ways to bring other women into the mix. Real world connection is important to make the community tangible and to build confidence within the women of your network. This module is easy – just host a party. This should be a celebration of achievements and overcoming obstacles. Don’t overthink it – just find a date and a place that as many women in your community can attend. Whether it is just a pizza party or affair, celebrate your successes and get some new recruits!
Big business example
“Nothing beats meeting in the real world and celebrating success with the women who have helped and inspired you to keep going” – Amy Thomson, founder of MOODY & co-founder of FGC.
When will you host your event?
Where will you host it? Can you get a venue for free? Ask your local co-working space if they can help you.
What’s the message of your event? For example, to celebrate all things FGC?
Can you secure some sponsorship to cover drinks, snacks, and any promotional costs?
How will you capture the event? For example, with video, photos, or both?
How will you invite everyone? The tip is to leave 4 weeks between sending the invite and getting all the RSVPs
Why networking events are important.
Support: one of the biggest challenges for women in business is imposter syndrome. By having a network of peers and women who are on your journey with you, it will help you avoid your sense of isolation and will instead promote an ‘I can do it’ attitude.
Ideas: no one comes up with their best ideas by sitting alone at home and thinking big. Inspiration comes from getting out into the world. The best ideas are those that are talked through and interrogated by the people that you trust the most.
Connect: networking is the key to success. No one can do it alone, and by creating your own network, you are one step closer to realising your vision.
Future proofing: your business, your idea, your career, will always have bumps in the road. Your networking events are the chance for you to share and celebrate so that you can continue moving forward and passing the challenges that will inevitably crop up. You are future proofing yourself and your business by building a network.
Confidence: no one is born with unlimited confidence – we build confidence through experience. This experience more than often comes from opportunities, and those opportunities come from people and connections. Building a network will boost your confidence and therefore your opportunities.
Inspiration: if you’re building an FGC network, then you are creating inspiration and sharing this important vision to empower more women to become CEOs and the best in their chosen fields.