Jamee Fred is the co-founder of TrueSpace, a first-of-its-kind ecosystem designed to help businesses that have grown past the startup phase reach at least $10 million in revenue. Launched by Jamee and her father Charles Fred in 2014, it is the mission of TrueSpace to help business owners move past the second stage of development, where many companies get stuck. The co-founders are committed to helping 10,000 entrepreneurs create 500,000 new jobs by growing sustainable businesses, and Jamee Fred has made it her personal mission to ensure that 5,000 of them are women.

When Jamee and Charles Fred began their research process prior to founding TrueSpace, they were determined to figure out why 80% of startups fail – and what the other 20% do differently. They unearthed two key elements that factored into small business success: 

·     The founder had the know-how to grow and scale a business, either from personal experience, a mentor or continuing education programs.

·     The business had access to capital.

Over those two years, Jamee Fred found herself most strongly impacted by the businesses built by women. Women-owned businesses were the significant outliers in the study because they had surpassed milestone growth markers, yet most of them didn’t get there because of outside capital. In fact, most were self-funded from the very beginning and, despite showing strong year-over-year growth and a sustainable business model, they still struggled to get attention from investors. It was through these findings that Fred discovered her life purpose: To help other women entrepreneurs. 

“Throughout my career, I have encountered not only a female entrepreneur bias but also a Millennial bias,” says Fred. “I’ve been told that because I am single without kids, it’s easy for me to talk about working hard to achieve my dreams. The unfortunate truth is, a man would never be asked about his family life in the same way.”

Jamee Fred feels fortunate to have learned business skills from her father. He started a company, The Breakaway Group when she was 13. On weekends, she’d often tag along to his office and help him out with administrative tasks. “The concept of having your own office with a key to open and lock every day, to me, seemed like the most heroic job,” says Jamee Fred. “Watching my father build a business and provide jobs for so many people inspired my path and confirmed that entrepreneurship was going to be an integral component of my future. Without my dad’s support, my journey to TrueSpace would have looked very different. That is why it is so important to me that more women have access to the right tools and resources needed to be successful as entrepreneurs.” 

Here, Fred offers her top five tips for growing your company past the startup phase and into a $10M business:

·      Create a Closed-loop Model.

The potential of any business is ultimately assessed from the capability of the entrepreneurs to create, measure and manage business conditions over a protracted period. Start-up companies are all about doing everything and anything to build the business in order to survive. Second-stage companies need to focus on successfully replicating their product or service and turning it into a closed-loop model. It’s all about the wash, rinse and repeat. Feedback is an incredibly important piece in creating this model. In order to create a truly closed-loop system, business leaders must be able to evaluate quantitative and qualitative feedback in order to know what is working and what is not. 

·     Optimize and Scale. 

After feedback is received and evaluated, entrepreneurs should focus on doing the things the company does really well and letting go of anything that can’t scale. This can be especially difficult for many entrepreneurs who are natural idea generators.

Get Organized. Second-stage companies are at a remodeling stage. The types of roles needed in the company are changing, as are the teams. In fact, most entrepreneurs struggle with having the leadership skills and business acumen necessary to navigate this tricky period. Taking time to ensure the company has the right people with the right strengths in the right roles is key for the company’s growth. 

·     Invest in People.

At this point in a company’s evolution, it’s important to have dedicated talent in human resources, finances and sales. Many businesses get stuck at the capacity of the owner either due to an unwillingness to bring people on or by bringing on the wrong type of help. No one person can do it all if you want to have a successful company.

·     Loosen the Reigns.

Entrepreneurs in the second-stage can be their own worst enemies because this is the point where they must lessen their control over their babies and let them walk alone. In the start-up stage, owners do everything from CEO tasks to running the copier. That needs to change dramatically at this point.

“I wake up each morning with the motivation that my work might play a small part in inspiring young women to pursue a career in entrepreneurship,” says Fred. She loves how TrueSpace provides her a platform to give back. “My goal is to help erase the unconscious bias many people have around women being strong leaders and business builders.”

To others looking to tap into their life purpose, Fred says, “It is easy to get caught up in the status quo of what it looks like to be successful or to be happy. It took a long time for me to realize that a conventional life was never going to bring me the same level of joy that it might to someone else. Recognize what brings you personal fulfillment and start there. Whether you decide to join an existing company because you prefer structure and job description, or you decide to fill white space and create a business yourself, by identifying your mission before your career, you can more easily ensure your vocation brings you joy and value.”

 

*Originally published at Forbes on 27 January 2020.