Keys to Startup Success: Courage, Curiosity, Imperfection
Judith Martinez '14
March 2017 marked the third anniversary of InHerShoes catalyzing courage and my first three years of running a startup. We celebrated by launching our New York City chapter and awarding a scholarship to one of our participants, giving her the opportunity to bring courage to her local neighborhood.
Looking back on the past three years, I can attribute our growth and success to these five tips:
1. Have a clear vision of what you do and don’t want
When I first began InHerShoes, I did not know exactly what it would look like, but I did know I wanted to work with women and provide something I wish I had growing up. Whether you are jump starting an idea, or expanding to the next level, the road of innovation can be filled with naysayers. When you have a clear vision (even if it’s being clear on what you don’t want), it makes the journey turning that vision into a reality a bit easier.
2. Decide what you want, then learn to ask for it
As InHerShoes grows, every day my team and I get to learn more about ourselves and, more importantly, every young woman out there in our community being courageous—she is ambitious, adventurous, and playfully curious about how she can impact the world. As we grow, I have learned more and more to ask for what we need, and not be afraid to hear “no” as an answer. Wayne Gretzky said it best: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
3. A strong team outperforms a perfect plan
If you are anything like me, you probably love having plans and strategizing the best, most efficient way to get something done. As great as this sounds on paper, the real world does not always operate that way—if at all. One of the biggest things I have learned as a founder and CEO has been the indispensable value of the people we choose to surround ourselves with. Whether it was a snag with logistics, a contract gone sideways, or even a last-minute rush to Staples, the value of a strong team outweighs the value of a great plan.
4. Be willing to do it wrong, to learn to do it right
“Done is better than perfect.” If this sounds vaguely familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve read it from Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, or perhaps heard it commonly among many conversations in the startup or entrepreneurial space. Not only is this quote a go-to maxim for many inside the walls of Facebook, but it’s also a great way to check in with yourself and your team. There were many moments where my striving for perfection actually hindered the team from taking action. I learned to be willing to do things wrong in order to learn to do it right. In the process, I learned to empower my team to do the same. Perfection stalls progress, and the quicker you can see the opportunity of that, the faster you can build forward.
5. Times change, but values don't have to
One of the coolest parts of being part of InHerShoes is getting to hear the stories of the girls and women joining our community. Our entire mission stems from one question: what would you do if you were 1 percent more courageous? We value embracing similarities, bridging differences, and turning passion into action to create a positive social impact. I have learned with media and data constantly flooding our streams, screens, and social channels, times may be changing, but our values don’t have to. Our cornerstones as an organization have helped us support the girls and women we work with, but also navigate the times ahead.
Do you have any tips to successfully running a startup business?