[quote style=”boxed”]I didn’t engage a group of people in a seed round because I didn’t think they were interested. Never assume until you actually ask — and ask more.[/quote]
Elizabeth Dodson is the co-founder of HomeZada, a cloud-based home improvement and organizational software tool. HomeZada strives to educate and provide resources for homeowners in all areas of home management, including home improvement projects, maintenance, inventory, property information, and property value.
Where did the idea for HomeZada come from?
After working in the software industry and servicing large buildings with project management software, I realized I could really use a tool with the capability to track all aspects of my home in one location. But after waiting many years for some businessperson or company to create this program, it still hadn’t materialized. It was time for me to create the very software I had been waiting for: HomeZada.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is surprisingly full of surprises. In a young company like HomeZada, our team has a lot of work that must be completed based on daily tasks, as well as deadlines. I also have scheduled meetings with my team to make sure we’re not missing any deadlines. Our team is always accessible online, making it easier for us to meet surprises head-on with quick conversations or meetings. The use of technology and regularly scheduled, swift meetings keep us productive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
In a young company, ideas are constant. The true challenge is leveraging the best ideas that meet our needs in a timely fashion or take into account financial and people resource allocation. Not all ideas can be executed at once, but less immediate ideas can be tabled for the future. A review of those ideas later is vital to keeping new ideas coming. Once the ideas are out there, it’s a matter of executing, measuring the value, potential success, or impact of the idea, and adjusting accordingly.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Home automation tools are being used to make homes more interactive. That’s exciting. Having a more detailed account of your home with the help of technology provides more understanding of the impact of your home’s equipment and efficiencies, as well as the health of its residents.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I know how to say “no.” There are times when you and your team don’t have the resources to perform some of the ideas that you come up with. Saying “no” isn’t a bad thing; in fact, it’s vital to make your business thrive. “No” allows you to stay focused so you can say “yes” to the ideas that matter to your company now. Determine your “no” and “yes” ideas quickly so you can move on to other aspects of your business that need your attention.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
I had my worst job early in my career; it was one of my early introductions to technology. I realized I didn’t have enough knowledge about the industry I was in, and I didn’t know how to gain additional knowledge. Without self-learning or the proper tools available to me, I knew I wasn’t going to be successful. I was fortunate to realize this early, and I removed myself from the job. Once I left, I found a company that helped me gain the experience I was lacking, and I strove to grow through more self-learning.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
In the early days of my career, I would’ve learned to ask for more help from others. I thought I needed to learn everything on my own, but that’s far from the truth. There are plenty of businesspeople who are willing to provide mentorship to those who are eager to learn; all you have to do is ask.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
One recurring theme of entrepreneurship is the need for hard work and steadfast belief in what you’re doing.
You tend to love your company because you started it and put in long hours in the early days, but in the later years, you still have challenges you need to address as they come up. You’ll face new challenges in every stage of your business. My suggestion is to embrace them and work through them with support from your circle of advisors to help you understand and overcome the challenges.
As for steadfast belief, people will tell you over and over again that they don’t get it or that the solution, product, or service isn’t valuable. To make it through these naysayers, you’ll need thick skin and a steadfast belief in the value of what you’re offering.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
One strategy that has helped me grow my business is continuously trying out new ideas, measuring them to determine value, adjusting based on the data, and repeating. Trying new things is one of the best strategies for a business. Without testing your ideas, you’ll never know what actually works.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I didn’t engage a group of people in a seed round because I didn’t think they were interested. Never assume until you actually ask — and ask more.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Look to your life, and figure out how you can do something that you’re frustrated with better, whether that means developing a service, product, or some other solution to make a situation better or more efficient.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Although I was raised in Maryland and love that glorious state, I’m actually a Jersey girl by birth.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We use more than 30 software packages to help us manage our business. One of my favorite tools is Google Analytics. Using this tool to learn how people find us and what they appreciate is important.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I read a lot of books, and I think one of the best business books is “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger. Use this book to consider what your business says and how it relates to others.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
My biggest influencer is probably my mom. She said that you can be and do anything if you work hard. I also admire Carly Fiorina for taking a chance and doing what she thought best. Entrepreneur and Inc. are great resources that gather insightful information about entrepreneurs and the challenges they face.
HomeZada’s Blog: The Zen of Zada
HomeZada on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HomeZada
HomeZada on Twitter: @HomeZada
HomeZada on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/homezada/
Elizabeth Dodson on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/edodson
Elizabeth Dodson on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+ElizabethDodson22
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.