334 MINISODE Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Big Budgets to Scrappy Startups
Women Innovating Networking Growing Scaling – that’s WINGS … I’m Melinda Wittstock, my mission is to help women take flight to soar to the success of our dreams in business and in life– and create and grow businesses in alignment with our passion and purpose.
On this special advice Minisode of Wings of Inspired Business … we talk about the transition from being a corporate CEO with big budgets at hand to founding a scrappy startup where you have to make every penny stretch and stretch far – plus what it takes to scale from a million dollar or 7-figure business into the 8 figures and why you need to know you your value and walk your talk on your values to succeed.
Here with us today to provide her insights and inspiration is …
That’s right, she goes by her first name Sigrun.
She’s built a successful business as a strategic coach around the lifestyle of her dreams.
Sigrun has doubled revenue in her business every year, and reached her $1m milestone in 2017 as well as producing 100 episodes of her podcast The Sigrun Show in 100 days. Now she’s busy scaling her business and taking it to the next level as she takes leisure time with her family, plays golf and travels the world.
Her motto is: Be Inspired. Think Big. Take Action.
And she advises taking fast action even if you don’t yet know where you’re going … is better than no action. And this is where so many women, with our tendency to perfectionism, fall down in business.
Originally from Reykjavik, Iceland, Sigrun has always been drawn to leadership roles – and early on in her career, with no formal business training, she became CEO of a software company called SOMBA. She became a turnaround expert, landing in companies and bringing them to profitability – all while also earning three masters degrees.
Then came the burnout. She fell in love, got sick, moved to Switzerland, and found herself to be unemployable.
It was the impetus that pushed her to take the leap into entrepreneurship – creating a lifestyle business for herself helping other women to do the same.
Melinda Wittstock: Sigrun, it’s so good to have you on Wings.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: I’m excited to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: Me too. What’s inspiring you right now?
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: I am inspired by Greta Thunberg who just got nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and she is only 16-years-old so it gives me high hopes for the future.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my goodness, 16. It’s incredible. Don’t you think younger people are just stepping up to doing bigger and bigger things? I’m so hopeful about the younger generation. I hope they can do stuff that we couldn’t.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Yes. I don’t think they have the mindset struggles or not the same mindset struggles that we have, the older generation.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh God, thank God for that. I know having been through a lot of my own mindset things, just the way society was organized wasn’t necessarily ideal for a female entrepreneur, so I always felt like the early part of my life going against that tide, but it seems to be changing. How about you?
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: It’s changing but yeah, I think there’s still so much to do and I guess I’m always focusing on what can be improved. There are still many things that make me frustrated. For instance, the recognition of women who are doing great things, society is only seeing those who actually get funding from the outside. If you don’t get funding nobody knows you exist.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, well I started this whole podcast because I believed that women were succeeding in silence. Like we were kind of doing it despite. Well, we should just really change the face of entrepreneurship and just affirm and acclaim women who are doing these amazing things that no one’s ever heard of. Crazy.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: So what are the big challenges in your life right now, because we all have them?
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Oh, it’s growth. I am going through a massive growth in my business and it’s kind of hard, you know? I have to let go of control and it’s funny because I was the CEO for 10 years before I started my own business, but when you start from scratch, going from startup mode into a more company, corporation mode is really tough. I struggle with it. I have a plan and my team is on board with me and I’m hiring people, but I find it difficult.
Melinda Wittstock: It is, you know? I think what makes it difficult… I’ve arrived at this conclusion … that to get to the next level in business you’ve got to let go of something. You’ve got to kind of let go and then grab something different. So the very skills you just mastered in the startup phase, yeah, you’ve got to let those things go and let other people do the thing that you just mastered so it’s like constant change and being willing to step into this constant change and have other people do it maybe 80% as well as you can and that be good enough. That’s hard.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: That’s hard and that’s frustrating to see oh, I would have done it this way or that way and still just let it go. Yeah, I’m really struggling with this and it’s so interesting because as I look back 10 years ago and I was running a business and I had 70 employees, and now I’m just struggling building up a relatively small business. But I think it’s because it’s my name on the line more than when I was running some other people’s companies in the past and I always came into companies when they were already set up and I would just take over as the CEO and improve them and do a turnaround or fast growth.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Now I’m taking a company from zero to we achieved the seven figures two years ago and the next big goal is of course eight figures. It’s hard to make that shift when you’re kind of in it and you started it. You’re changing your baby.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. I think maybe it’s just more personal…
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Yes, it is. It’s very personal.
Melinda Wittstock: …wrapped up with our own value or how we perceive our value and oh gosh, so many things. So what top three pieces of advice would you give women in business? You wear these two hats. You’ve come in to big companies, you’ve been in corporate, you’ve run big companies but you’ve also come up in the startup, and congratulations on getting to the seven figures because only 3% of women do, and then now you will arrive firmly on eight figures. So with all of that expertise and experience, what would be your top three pieces of advice for women in business?
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: I think getting clear on your values early on. It’s something that I’ve had to revisit. I wasn’t really clear on what our values are. I’ve hired people that I’ve had to let go of and I see now looking back that many of those hires could have been avoided if I was just clear on my values. I’ve not given this advice before. Maybe it’s because of the shift I’m making myself and I’m realizing how important it is to have just the right people on the team from the very beginning.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: I have people on the team who have been with me for four years and I think it was more luck than anything else because now I’m much more aware that I’m only hiring those who match my values.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s such good advice. Being aligned on value, then being different in skillset.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Yes. Yes. I believe … One of my favorite business books is Good To Great.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that book.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, I love that book. That was one of my first ever business reads.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Yes, mine too.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s incredible.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Yeah. Well, the cover is red as well and my favorite color is red, just to mention that, so that helped too. No, but it was a fantastic book. Actually it kind of planted a seed that one day I want to write a book like that because it was built on this massive research discovering companies that were doing better than other companies and trying to figure out what really the key to success. They came to the conclusion, one of the conclusions was the right people, so even if you didn’t know what the people were going to do, just hire the right people.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: It’s interesting that I read this book I think in 2006 and I’m kind of coming back to it now as I’m going through this shift in my business. So values, right people and investing forward. I have done that not in my first year of business, I think I was not really. I think when you’re not at the six figures yet it’s kind of hard to think big, but I realized at one point when I started to invest in myself, I invested in a coach and then I realized that masterminds are even better than one-on-one coaching.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: I’ve always invested forward and I on purpose did not want to have a profit in my first year of business. I know that may sound not the right thing for some people, but I did not pay myself salary. I did not have a profit on purpose in my first three year of business. I was really … Because I had always the plan to go to seven figures. As soon as I knew I had a business idea that worked, then my plan was to go to seven figures. You don’t go to seven, eight figures if you just take out the cash that you earn. That’s where I think is the reason many female businesses stay small is they look at everything that has not been spent is their salary and they just take it out and spend it.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: I was like, “No, this is not my money. This is the business.” I even incorporated before I had my first sale because I had this mindset of this a business, it’s a separate identity or you know, tax-wise than me, and what’s leftover belongs to the business and doesn’t belong to me personally.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, you need to be able to reinvest and figure out kind of what is your salary. So what is the basic thing that you need to earn, right, to cover your nut if you will, right? So you’re not in scarcity mode or whatever. You’re getting paid enough but you’re okay, but then what of the profits or the top line revenue is reinvested back in the business and to what aim and then a third column, what is being invested in other forms of passive income so you’re diversifying? That third step is one that a lot of women miss as well.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Yeah. I think for me it was important that I built a business first that was solid before I start to take out maybe dividends for a second business or a third business. I’ve been investing forward into coaching, but also Facebook Ads, you know? I think that’s where a lot of people are scared, investing massively, but I have now no problem spending 100,000 in seven days. In my first year of business, obviously not.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Then I would spend maybe $100 in a week, but building up that mindset has allowed me to grow and now I have no problem investing forward and I know there will be a return on investment because I have sold the products before. I have done the marketing campaigns. Of course if you’re selling something for the first time I do not recommend just hoping for the best. You have to prove the concept first.
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So Sigrun, this is such important advice and how can people find you, follow you on social media, work with you?
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: The best way to find me is Sigrun.com. I also have a podcast, The Sigrun Show.
Melinda Wittstock: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.
Sigrun Gudjonsdottir: Thank you for having me.