Meet Your Advisor: Julia Polk

January 31, 2017 / Share:

It takes a village. Entrepreneurship is hard work. The impact that our advisors are making in the lives of the entrepreneurs in Nashville is intangible. We want you to know who they are and why they are a big deal. Today, on the last day of #nationalmentormonth, we launch a “Meet Your Advisor” feature that will run its course until we have introduced you to all the “doing it, done it or invested in it” people who are navigating our city’s entrepreneurs.

Q: In the world of fundraising & Financial Modeling, what problem do you see most often and what advice would you have for entrepreneurs to avoid this?

A: You will need more money, and it will take more time to reach a stable state, which equates to more money. Ignoring seasonality in the business will sink you and creating a projection on an annual basis will mask the low cash points. Oops, that is 3 problems – I probably have a list of 25.

Q: From over 25 years of building companies and mentoring early stage entrepreneurs, what is most essential about business model development?

A: Predicting revenue growth is the starting point, and it must be based upon customer discovery. Revenue rarely grows in a straight line. It usually accelerates over time once you hit a tipping point of adoption, which means that you will slog along for a while, and then suddenly, month over month growth will accelerate. Assuming it’s a straight line will cause you to underestimate the cash you need to build the business in the early days.

Q: What movie or book has had an impact on you?

A: Brene Brown’s Power of Vulnerability; Angela Duckworth’s GRIT; Ben Horowitz’s Hard Thing about Hard Things, Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc.

Q: What is one question about life that really puzzles you?

A: Trust is central to relationships and to success. I am amazed by the tendency of founders to obscure the truth for fear of “disappointing” their advisors. Good investors/advisors want ALL of the news, good and bad.

Q: What do you view as the single most important factor of the EC having the advisor program?

A: The people offering their time as advisors have been on the receiving end of the same in their careers. We can help founders avoid a lot of potholes. I used to have a business card with a tag line: “Smoking Hole Prevention”. One of my own mentors used to say that any return was “better than a smoking hole in the ground.” We’re there, with our years of experience, to prevent smoking holes.

Q: Did you have an advisor when you were starting your business venture, and if so what did it do for the growth of your company?

A: I’ve had many mentors over my career – my first boss on Wall Street is still part of my life. My oldest daughter is named for her. She understood how to inspire my best work by challenging my competitive spirit and believing in me. She convinced me to believe that nothing is impossible. I am forever grateful for her guidance.

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