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How to go from being an industry expert to successful entrepreneur

Lots of people come to The Startup Ladies with ideas for a business. In many cases, they identified a problem in their professional life and think they have a solution that can be brought to market. Many of those who join our community have several similar traits in common driving them to startup a company. Most of our entrepreneur members can say the following about themselves:

  • They received training through a certification process, graduated from college, and/or pursued advanced degree/s.

  • Became an industry expert.

  • Are well respected by peers in their field.

  • Have too many responsibilities at work and not enough time.

  • Often take care of children and/or elders.

  • Very involved in professional networks.

  • Volunteer in the community.

  • Hit some kind of ceiling at work.

  • Encountered poor management in their career.

  • Experienced some form of bigotry by senior leaders and/or peers.

  • Endured a toxic corporate culture.

  • Believe they can create a corporate culture that is healthy for everyone.

  • Never built a business before.

  • Have no idea how to build software.

  • Know that they don’t know how to startup and scale a business.

  • Tend to be lifelong learners and are coachable.

  • Are good at asking for help.

Sound like you? Many of these traits will provide a strong foundation for a successful entrepreneurial journey. However, it’s important to understand that what got you here may not get you there. Ever know someone who was great at their job, got promoted to management, and was terrible at managing? It’s such a shame because usually those talented people just needed some training and mentorship. Instead, they were thrown into a new role, with totally different responsibilities and goals, and didn’t receive the support they needed to be successful. It’s a textbook recipe for failure.

90% of startups fail - only 10% make it. In large part, this is because the founder didn’t have the education, network, and mentorship needed to avoid the pitfalls of building a company. Being purposeful about learning what you don’t know about building a business early on will help you avoid common mistakes made by first-time founders. No need to be scared! Take these steps to displace fear and uncertainty with education and community.

Educate yourself consistently.

It’s hard to know what you don’t know. And you need to learn the difference between working “in” the business and “on” the business. Why not learn from startup experts who can help you avoid making those rookie mistakes? The Startup Ladies provide live and virtual education the first and third Wednesday of each month from 6:00pm - 8:00pm EDT/EST and have an e-Learning platform so you learn on demand. Below are descriptions of the programming we offer. Take a look at our calendar of events to register.

→ Startup Study Halls

Startup Study Hall provides the structure, consistency, and accountability to help you focus on moving your idea forward. Executive Mentors focus on one topic specific to starting up and/or scaling a business. Mentors provide case studies and actionable next steps so that what you learn in Study Hall can be applied immediately to your business.


6:00 pm - Attendees arrive and introduce themselves

6:10 pm​ - Welcome

6:15 pm - Executive Mentor leads discussion

7:20 pm - Homework assignment to be completed within 2 weeks: Executive Mentors will follow

up with each student who submits their homework assignment

7:30 pm - Chat room networking

8:00 pm - Wrap up

Mental Wellness for Business

Mental health is often ignored while starting up a company - there’s just too much to do. After listening to hundreds of founders discuss the many challenges they have faced, it became clear that we needed a deliberate way to talk about mental health in a professional setting. Topics that have been discussed include: depression, anxiety, power dynamics, racism, homophobia, managing resentment with colleagues, gender issues, confidence, actualization, managing burnout, emotional whiplash that entrepreneurs experience, isolation, imposter syndrome and understanding of self v. the outside perception of the self.

This program provides education about the psychological challenges that entrepreneurs experience regularly while providing actionable steps to make positive changes. The goal of this program is to promote emotional, psychological, and social well-being. There is significant value in creating a safe space for founders to be vulnerable. Investors should consider the mental wellness of the founder when considering funding them. Members of The Startup Ladies have access to the quarterly programs as well as online mental wellness education.

→ Startup Investing 101

Startup Investing 101 is an educational program for individuals who have the financial capacity to invest $5,000+ in a startup. Conversations take place monthly and cover topics like: the process of investing in a startup, how equity works, how to evaluate business plans and risk, what is an exit strategy, how to support the founder, investment vehicles, and the legal and tax responsibilities of an investor. Conversations will be facilitated by angel investors, attorneys, and accountants who are experts in the field of investing in startups.

Our expertise is educating Investor Members to invest at the Pre-Seed and Seed stages. (Although some investors have chosen to invest in series A funding.) If more people invest in startups at this stage, we could grow the pipeline for angel investment firms around the country. The goal of this program is to increase the number of impact investors who fund startups at the idea stage.

→ Founders & Funders

One of the reasons why more women don’t build scalable businesses is because they don’t have investors in their network. It can be difficult to secure funding to prove out a concept. Lots of ideas are generated, companies are formed, but too many fail because of the lack of funding in the startup stage.

Twice a year, The Startup Ladies host events so that entrepreneurs have the opportunity to get to know potential funders. Investors have the opportunity to learn more about funding needs and founders have the chance to tell the story of their company. The goal of this series is to increase funding in women-owned startups and identify and connect potential advisors to entrepreneurs.

→ Meetups

Growing relationships with colleagues in your network and establishing new relationships with influencers who can open doors for you is critical when launching a startup. Community building is one of the reasons The Startup Ladies have been so successful building traction. We like spending time together - whether we’re dining at a woman-owned restaurant, going on a guided walk, or marching at the Indy Pride parade. We’re there for one another.

e-Learning (Watch the demo.)

We record Startup Study Halls, Mental Wellness for Business, and Startup Investing 101 programs and add them to our e-Learning platform along with additional slide decks, tools, and templates that members can use immediately. Lessons on the e-Learning platform cover topics like: accounting, sales, technology, marketing, prototyping, product design and development, manufacturing, media relations, IP, negotiating deals, and psychological wellness for entrepreneurs.

We have defined learning tracks to improve competency and use this tool to help determine who is ready to pitch to investors. Additionally, members have the opportunity to ask questions about the content in the platform. It’s another opportunity for member-to-member engagement and reinforce a sense of community. This platform allows members from anywhere in the world to learn with us whenever it’s convenient for them.

Find a supportive community.

You are going to have good days and bad days. You’re going to encounter a lot of rejection. You’re also going to have BIG wins. And sometimes, you’ll feel like you’ve hit a wall and need some motivation. You’ll need shoulders to cry on, sounding boards, truth tellers, and cheerleaders. The Startup Ladies community does that for one another at our live and virtual events as well as in our private Facebook group every day. We’re always posting something inspirational, making introductions, and sharing: referrals, time-sensitive funding and media opportunities, freebies, and connections to students groups who want to get involved with startups.

Many of our Executive Mentors go beyond teaching in our programs by hosting one-on-one virtual office hours. You can receive the personal attention you need from experts who will answer your questions. And you can schedule appointments with them through our website. In short, we’re there for you when you need support.

Prioritize what is most important.

When you launch a company, you’re not just in charge of one person, project, portfolio or department. You’re in charge of everyone and anything that does or doesn’t happen. You can’t expect to be an expert in everything, so you have to learn what to do yourself and what can be delegated to others. We’ll teach you how to allot your time so that you can achieve meaningful benchmarks and develop healthy boundaries and avoid burning out.

Become a Member!

If you are ready to leverage the success you achieved as an industry expert, and want to learn how to successfully startup and grow your business - become a member of The Startup Ladies. Learn more about membership options here. Whether you’re a current student, hoping to build a business in the future, working on a side hustle, starting up now, or scaling your business, we’re excited to meet you and help you get growing!

*ALL genders always welcome!


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