Courageous Women: Genevieve Thiers’ 5 Rules for Entrepreneurship

by marilyn on February 24, 2009

Okay, my themes are all over the place, but I have to talk about courageous women. My first  is Genevieve Thiers.

When I was the Managing Director of eWomenNetwork’s Boston Chapter several years ago, I had the pleasure of having Genevieve Thiers, CEO of Sittercity, Inc. as a keynote speaker. Genevieve, then 27, founded the #1 online childcare service (that she fondly refers to as the “Match.com” of the babysitting world) right here in Boston several years ago. After being denied venture capital, she printed 20,000 flyers and set out canvassing 20 local colleges by foot. Many blisters later, she had her first 600 sitters and a company was born. Sittercity now has over 150,000 sitters and a vibrant online community to connect parents and sitters throughout the country. (The VCs, by the way, still pursue her although she’s not interested now!) In 2007 she was named to the Forbes Junior Power League.

Sittercity’s growth has included developing corporate contracts and other services including nannies, petsitters, dog walkers, senior caregivers, housesitters and tutors. Go, Genevieve! Did I mention she was also an opera singer and  lead soloist for the Chicago Society of Music in Chicago?!!

Genevieve provided invaluable “tips” on starting and growing a business which she summarized in her “5 Rules for Entrepreneurship– ones that hold even truer in challenging economic times. They are:

1. Keep it simple. Your product and message should be easily understood, easy to see and easy to access. Your internal working systems should be, too.
2. Do what you know. Know it like the back of your hand. Genevieve succeeded in the babysitting business because she had been a babysitter throughout college and understood what working parents were looking for. If you have a business that requires investment capital, you must have the credentials and degree-specific expertise.
3. Never stop talking about what you do. Talk to everyone you can find. You never know to whom you will be talking who will have just what you need.
4. Keep your eyes on the money. Spend what you have wisely. Genevieve believes “a healthy company will grow on its own revenues.” Never accept funding if you don’t know what you will do with it.
5. Create an “All Star” team. Learn to delegate as you grow. Any time you feel you are doing the job of 3, it’s time to hire 1. (As a successful entrepreneur, you probably will always feel you are doing the job of 2!) Make sure their values reflect yours and they are aligned with your purpose.

Genevieve also emphasized that building a business is hard work. If you build it, people will not necessarily come. You need to offer quality products and services and meet real needs and wants. That said, women like to help other women and if you reach out, you will receive the help you need.

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