Skip to main content

Market Overview

3 Tips For Businesses Looking To Scale In 2021, According To Courtney Lawless

3 Tips For Businesses Looking To Scale In 2021, According To Courtney Lawless

When leading, it helps to think about who you’re serving and what’s the mission.

That’s according to Courtney Lawless, a venture capitalist, entrepreneur and tech founder.

Host of "Wolf PAC," a "Shark Tank" alternative filmed in Philadelphia and released on Amazon Prime, Lawless is highly experienced in business.

With 18 years in leadership and business strategy, as well as an extensive background in private equity, venture capital, hedge funds, real estate, and structuring large business deals, Lawless has identified, developed and scaled businesses to their full potential.

In a conversation with Benzinga, Lawless spoke about her origins, as well as tips for success in business and raising funds.

Origins, Career Progression: Early on, Lawless was fortunate to have great mentors.

“Even as a junior, I had a seat at the table, and was able to ask questions and become confident in what I was thinking and saying,” she said in a conversation regarding one mentor who had a servant leadership mindset. “He was about who we’re serving, and realizing that you work for the employee.”

Those early experiences were integral in Lawless’s career progression; she went on to fundraise and market for the middle market, private equity, real estate, and venture funds.

“I cut my teeth in the fund world,” she told Benzinga. “Anything from life sciences to consumer goods and the beauty industry.”

Alongside her efforts to assist businesses of all sizes to execute strategy, Lawless co-owns and manages MoxēHub, a software development technology company.

“We’re really focusing on hyper-automation, and how we can remove as much friction as we can from a process,” she said.

Additionally, Lawless recently wrapped up the first season of "Wolf PAC."

“Instead of getting pitched and investors going at each other to try to win the investment, there are five investors, with very different backgrounds, that come together with capital, skills, and expert networks to help a startup either gain investment or become successful.”

Tip 1: Lawless was taught to listen closely before responding.

“My mentor always wanted to hear what everyone else thought.”

Her experience echoes recent Harvard research on active listening. Studies suggest good listeners make others feel supported while they listen to the substance of a conversation, asking questions, and restating issues to confirm understanding.

“What really helped was to listen, take a minute before speaking or reacting, and then thinking about who we’re serving and what’s the mission," she said.

Tip 2: The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was a black-swan, bringing unanticipated pressures on businesses. In a conversation on how businesses should position themselves for the future, Lawless discussed reconfiguration -- the need to capitalize on disruptive transformations.

“I hear everyone say ‘You need to pivot,’ but a lot of businesses don’t actually do that -- it may not be a viable option,” she said. “One of the things that I would say is, look at how you can integrate your business into what the consumer is doing at this point.”

Lawless suggests the pandemic dented traditional consumer preferences for goods and services. It’s up to businesses now to understand what consumers are looking for, and what problems they need to have solved.

“Stop trying to frame your solution around the problem. The problem has to be answered with your solution, not the other way around.”

Looking to networks and ancillary businesses can help with successful reconfigurations.

“As you start to break it down and see ways you can pivot," she said, "look through your network and other ancillary businesses that may not have been relevant at one time, but now are relevant to make the pivot or figure out what’s going to save the business.”

It also helps executives to unpack whether a market exists for the proposed solution and the prospects of a financial return.

“You can have a great solution, but it doesn’t mean that the market is going to support what you need in order to make that successful,” she said. “The other thing businesses miss on is their story, and having a cohesive system that if I give you 30 minutes of my time, I don’t get off the call and go, ‘What do they do?’”

Tip 3: As businesses look to enter the marketplace, pivot and scale, fundraising becomes a hot issue.

“I feel like a lot of people get in this rut of ‘Oh my, we need to raise money.’ They just start throwing stuff at the wall, seeing what sticks, as opposed to having a plan to fundraise.”

Lawless recommends businesses do heavy research on potential investors and partners.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they'll take any money over smart money," she said. "Smart money is a strategic partner who can not only bring you funding, but has network resources, industry expertise, and can help get you to the next level, quickly."

Put more simply, looking to partner with strategic investors unlocks synergies helpful to accelerated growth.

“You want people that are going to think outside the box and help accelerate your growth," Lawless said. "Not the investor that’s looking for … the next unicorn as opposed to getting involved."

Lawless, second from left, on the set of Wolf PAC, an Amazon Prime show


Related Articles

View Comments and Join the Discussion!

Posted-In: Entrepreneurship Movers & Shakers Startups Small Business Exclusives Tech Interview General Best of Benzinga