How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Christie Whitehill, CEO of Tech Ready Women and .
Location: Sydney, Australia
Current mobile device: iOS 7 Plus
Current computer: Macbook Pro
One word that best describes how you work: Efficient
What apps/software/tools can't you live without?
We love Slack for team collaboration and communicating with our female founders and mentors while the Tech Ready Program is running. We also love Insightly as a CRM and Project Management tool and on a personal note I can’t live without Uber.
What social network do you find the most useful?
I’m not on social media much but when I am it’s mostly for work. Facebook is probably the best channel for us to connect with our audience, then Linkedin and Instagram.
What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?
Validate the idea by talking to as many potential customers before executing. I made so many expensive mistakes early on by not learning how to validate my ideas properly, which included the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in development costs and third party consultancy fees.
I also made some hiring mistakes. When you’re a non-tech entrepreneur starting a tech business it’s hard to know what skill set you need to build your product. If I could do my time again I would have tried to learn as much about tech as I possibly could early on as developers are not cheap and hiring the wrong one can be very costly as well as delay your project.
What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?
I’ve always been a fan of working with others but collaboration with people specific to my industry has been so important.
Building strong alliances and partnerships helps you grow and stay connected to what your market is doing. The other thing would be that when I first started out in tech I would read all these stories in the media of what seemed like overnight success, however, it’s not until you jump in and realise that true success takes time, commitment, persistence and grit.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Delegating! I’m definitely a big picture person and realised early on if the details were to get done I was going to need to be great at delegating to the people who were skilled in the areas I wasn’t good at.
What's your sleep routine like?
I have an 11 month old so not that great at the moment. If I can I try to get to bed by 10.30pm because I never know if I’m going to get woken up in the night!
What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?
Whether your implementing new products and services into an existing business, or starting a new business altogether be sure to validate, validate, validate everything you do. Test and iterate. The faster you can do that the more likely you will not run out of capital and succeed. If you’re just starting out in business. Surround yourself with a great community and find mentors in your industry who can help give you some guidance.