Balanced Hustler: Meet Alex Batdorf, Founder & CEO of Get Sh!t Done
Being an entrepreneur can seem glamorous. We own our schedules, build our companies based on work we love—and sometimes we can even work beachside. But the glamour is second in command to the hustle.
The hustle is what really defines the ups and downs of the entrepreneurship journey. And to shed some light on the work it takes to build a business, I’m interviewing fellow entrepreneurs who are ready to get real about their journeys. I’ll ask them how they manage to balance the hustle with the passion of what they do, and they’ll share what they had to overcome to get where they are today. It’s all in service of inspiring, supporting and illuminating the path for you, and we’re calling it the #BalancedHustler.
Alex Batdorf is a killer serial entrepreneur, business coach, keynote speaker and inspiration. When we spoke, she gave me honest, real answers about her entrepreneur journey, and she opened up in an easygoing manner. What’s more is that she’s now dedicated to empowering other female founders to Get Sh!t Done, and build the business of their dreams. Here’s what she had to say when we chatted in our latest Balanced Hustler interview.
Fast Facts: Alex Batdorf
When did you launch Get Sh!t Done?
In one sentence, tell us why you started Get Sh!t Done.
I started Get Sh!t Done because I was fed up hearing about how hard it is for female founders to grow businesses without tangible solutions being offered to improve our outcomes.
How much did you invest to get the business started?
A few thousand but not all up front, spread out over a year.
How did you get capital to start?
I’m my own investor (i.e savings). I created one side of my business to purposely have a low overhead and high returns to invest in the other parts of my business that require more capital.
How long did it take for Get Sh!t Done to get profitable?
Are you growing your business to sell? Or this is your dream job and you want to be doing this in 10 years?
I’m building a legacy company with the goal of it making a systemic impact, which takes time. If there are partners down the line that align with values of the company and can accelerate the mission beyond what I’m capable of doing alone, I’m open. I would never want to pigeonhole the impact my company can make for my ego. The goal of Get Sh!t Done is to positively impact as many underrepresented founders as possible. My main job as founder is to see that through.
How many hours a week do you work when you started verses now?
A year ago, I worked close to 70-80 hours/week. However, now I work closer to 60. It has influxes depending on whether or not I’m doing a sprint.
How Alex Balances the Hustle
What female founders do you look up to? Why?
Lisa Price from Carol’s Daughter, because she taught me that you can grow a company organically over time, make mistakes, and still come out a champ. Madame CJ Walker because she’s the OG of female entrepreneurs, who was able to build a successful company during a time that her existence was barely acknowledged as a black woman. Sandy Lerner, who is the founder of Cisco Systems & Urban Decay because she was able to innovate in two starkly different industries. Janice Bryant Howroyd because she is one of the unsung heroes of female founders today. While we’re praising founders for raising and burning through millions from investors, Janice is the first black female founder to have built a billion dollar company that she started with $1500.
“Funding” seems to be a very coveted word for entrepreneurs. But not all money is good money. Why do you think founders should be open to turning down funding?
Just like a real relationship, funding is not a Disney movie. You don’t find the Prince/Princess, get saved and live happily ever after. You are entering into a partnership, but in this type of partnership, they have very clear expectations for what ‘happily ever after’ looks like to them and it’s in the form of seeing their money multiplied anywhere between 10 and 30 times [what they invested], and seeing it happen within five to seven years, give or take.
You need to make sure that your happily ever after aligns with theirs. If not, you need to determine what an alternative path to your happily ever after looks like. Don’t just settle because you’re excited by the idea of funding. Ask yourself if it’s what you actually want and need.
You scaled quickly in your last company. Any word of advice for those looking to scale their company?
First, ask yourself: “Why do I want to scale?” Second, ask yourself: “What does success look like to me?” Far too often, I see founders benchmarking success against other companies and getting themselves into a predicament where they’re growing without a cause other than to beat “x company.” If you start to scale in a direction that you’re not passionate about other than beating the competition, you may find yourself in a place doing something that you don’t even care about. To avoid this, stay in touch with your vision and purpose at all times and as you scale, make sure that you’re checking in to see how it has evolved and whether or not you’re happy with the progress.
You resigned from the first multi-million dollar company you built. How did you know it was time to leave?
I knew it was time to leave when Mondays felt like Mondays. I was exhausted from running my company because I lost touch with why I thought we built it in the first place. Instead, I became focused on profit for profit’s sake and scaling for scaling sake. At the end of the day, running a company, at least for me, is meaningless if I’m not connected with the purpose.
What do you do now to maintain emotional balance so you can pursue purpose?
When I was in my early-20s building my first two companies, I took pride in feeling “busy.” I learned the hard way that burrowing myself inside of my company not only led to burnout, but it also led to anxiety and a close call with depression. I would go months on end not socializing and couldn’t wrap my brain around why I felt so lonely. It’s because I completely lost balance by disconnecting myself from the outside world in pursuit of feeling like I was doing enough for the business.
The reality is that you are probably already doing more than enough. After awhile, you stop being effective so it’s in your best interest to take a break, whether that be to Netflix & Chill or dinner with friends, without taking yourself on a guilt trip. The next time you do feel guilty, ask yourself—“Would I want to get into a car with a driver that has been driving for hours without taking a break?” Probably not. Treat your company the same. You are the driver. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, there’s a good chance you will crash.
Number 1 tip to grassroots your sales/growth.
Take any opportunity that you can to get your name out there. Although you can’t necessarily squeeze it into a spreadsheet and quantify it, building awareness around your brand is important for growth. Period. Build it and they will come no longer exists in an age where consumers are inundated by choice.
Unless you are a well-funded company out the gate, you have to get creative around how you build awareness, I would personally reach out to local journalists that covered our industry to let them know our company existed and how what we were tied into the work they did. I found that journalists preferred to talk to me over a publicist most of the time because they want the inside scoop so don’t think you’re at a disadvantage because you can’t hire a PR firm—it’s actually in your favor to do the outreach as the founder.
Study how The Knot and Away, two female-founded companies that kicked-ass in PR in the early stages, did it. Also, decide what type of founder you are/want to be. Are you comfortable with having the brand connected to you or does that make you uncomfortable? I leveraged my own personal brand to be a proxy for our company. That meant whenever I was asked to speak on panels, conferences, etc., I would take that opportunity because it resulted in driving revenue almost 100 percent of the time.
I would recommend checking out Unlabel by Marc Ecko and Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday if you want to learn more savvy techniques for grassroots marketing in the early stages.
Alex’s Advice for Entrepreneurs
What is something I didn’t ask you about being an entrepreneur, about the journey/hustle that you wish I had?
I wish you would have asked what’s the worst thing an entrepreneur can do to themselves. My answer would be to never measure yourself against anyone else when you’re running your own race. You let yourself down when you lose sight of your biggest competitor, the person you stare down in the mirror every single day. If you’re not measuring yourself against who you were yesterday, but instead are looking at other people, you’ll never progress because their results have nothing to do with you.
What is your #1 piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
There is no one else that can get in your way other than you. Is it harder being a woman in business—damn right. The reality is and has been that we have to work twice as hard, but we’re built for it. If you want something, go after, and believe you’re going to get it. It won’t always work out, but by training your brain over and over to have faith that you’ll win, it’s only a matter of time [before] you will.
What failure have you learned most from?
The biggest failure I’ve learned from is not listening to my gut and staying in a company that I co-founded that I was no longer passionate about to the point I was asked to step down from my position as CMO to “make room for gray hairs.”
How did you overcome it?
I started listening to my gut. I resigned from that company, moved to a new city, and started a company that I was called to do.
What does being a #BalancedHustler mean to you?
A balanced hustler runs their company and doesn’t let it run them by prioritizing themselves, their people and their company, in that order. More importantly, in the wise words of Samuel L. Jackson you “go the f*ck to sleep.”
Want more inspiro and tactical advice from female entrepreneurs? Check out our full #BalancedHustler series. Or, join us in Boston on June 22 for our Balanced Hustle Summit and learn from incredible female entrepreneurs in person.