It takes serious guts to start a business.
Whether it’s leaving the security of your 9-to-5, or stepping out of your comfort zone to market a treasured idea, entrepreneurship means facing your fears.
Threats to success—from external sources like market whims or internal ones such as lack of capital—are what keep most of us from starting up.
But for Marina Tarasova, they were par for the course in following her passion. Marina is the cofounder of Paloma Health, an innovative digital medicine clinic with its sights set on solving the hypothyroidism care crisis taking place in the U.S.
There are over 20 million Americans dealing with thyroid conditions, a number that is projected to grow both as additional diagnoses are made and as our understanding of thyroid function and health improves. Because of the complexity and in some cases opacity around hypothyroidism coupled with a growing shortage of certified endocrinologists and an average wait time of 37 days, the majority of people are unsatisfied with their care. Marina and her partner, Guillaume Cohen-Skalli, founded Paloma to meet this need, while also working to make thyroid care more holistic by looking at diet and lifestyle solutions, too.
On top of it all, Marina is mom to two. When it comes to finding time to build Paloma as well as her young family, she says that being a mom has only made her stronger, “I am the most stretched and the most invigorated I have ever been.” As a momtrepreneur, she agreed to share her tips with Forbes readers.
Paloma’s innovative at-home thyroid test
Tip 1: Don’t Be Afraid to Make the Call
One of the moments most feared by would-be entrepreneurs is the fundraising call. Tarasova knew almost nothing about venture capital when they started Paloma—her background is in pharmaceutical sales and marketing. Once they started reaching out to potential investors, she was surprised to find out that getting a meeting is much easier than one would think.
Her advice is to not waste time worrying about picking up the phone: “It’s very easy to get a meeting—don’t be afraid to ask; but know that it is very hard to close a $2M+ round before launching your business.”
Tip 2: Learn & Freely Share Your Expertise
When building your business, you need to become the world’s foremost expert in your area. “You need to know the landscape, laws, customers, better than your competitors and even your lawyers,” Tarasova jokes. Marina recommends connecting with fellow entrepreneurs and partners in your space to share and help each other. This enriches your understanding of your market, widens your pool for potential partners, and is an easy way to help others while also working toward your goals. Marina makes it a point of connecting regularly with others in my field so we can help each other with key introductions and help come up with solutions to difficult issues.
Marina Tarasova founded Paloma Health with her partner Guillaume Cohen-Skalli
Tip 3: Hire Doers
At the start of any business, Paloma’s founders recommend hiring doers as opposed to managers in order to build a team that is ready to get their hands dirty. They caution against getting caught up in impressive resumes and years of corporate experience. Instead, focus on hiring people who align with the mission and values of your company. An added bonus is that “there is nothing more satisfying than seeing an employee grow at the same time that the company.”
Tip 4: Take Care of Yourself
One of the biggest challenges for working parents—and especially parent-founders and mom-entrepreneurs—is finding time for everything. Unfortunately, in the race to take care of the business and the family, many people fail to take care of themselves, accounting for today’s mental health and burnout crisis. Marina says, “I definitely noticed that I was not functioning at my best when I was all work and all child-rearing all the time. It was hard to stay focused and have creative ideas when constantly doing. My brain and body needed free time to just be. I realized a few months in that I would need to carve out true “me time” even if that meant a half hour walk around the neighborhood alone on a weekend.” In her own family, she tag-teams with her husband so that each parent can have some alone time. In her business, Marina makes sure to block out time in her calendar to think creatively and generate new ideas.
January is #ThyroidAwarenessMonth and Paloma Health is helping to raise awareness and innovate care … [+]
Entrepreneurship comes with its fair share for fear-inducing risks. But developing your courage and bravely taking those on can help you navigate starting and running your business. Marina says, “Don’t let being a mom or thinking of becoming a mom hold you back. It’s so energizing to pursue something you know needs to exist and hustle for it.” Whether it is developing clarity over what you want and what you need, saying no, or putting your foot in the sand when it comes to your own mental health, as Marina says, just “go for it.”