Raimonda Jankunaite of ‘Women in Business Club’: “Never undervalue yourself”

Never undervalue yourself. When you start out in business, you think you need to undervalue your services because you are just starting out, and you want to appeal or please people. The reality is, if you deliver value to people, they will pay for it. However, the value is determined by you and that comes […]

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Never undervalue yourself. When you start out in business, you think you need to undervalue your services because you are just starting out, and you want to appeal or please people. The reality is, if you deliver value to people, they will pay for it. However, the value is determined by you and that comes from mindset. No premium brand has ever started with low-cost products, because that is not their positioning. Understanding where you want to position yourself with pricing is a tough lesson I had to learn.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Raimonda Jankunaite.

Raimonda is a serial Entrepreneur, Mentor, Business Coach and International Speaker. She is the founder of Women in Business Club, an international community and events company that helps women become visible, go-to experts.

She is also the host of Women Thrive Summit.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I came to the UK as an immigrant girl at the age of 14, with no language at all, wondering if I will ever be anything more than a low-wage paid worker. I worked really hard, starting my first job at the age of 15.

Being from another country I always felt like I would have to work my way up and do more than most people. So, I set out to always do the best that I can. I managed to learn the language as quickly as I could, enroll in college and then university as well as law school.

At an early age, I realized that I did not want to pursue a regular career path, but build my own business. So, I set up my first business at the age of 21. It was really challenging being so young and ambitious, but not having the experience or financial backing. A lot of people did not take me seriously and I faced lots of challenges in commercializing my first business. I invested everything I could in making it work but after 4 years of trying, I had to close the business and pursue other things. I remember feeling really lost and low on confidence, trying to find another big opportunity in business.

The women in the business club did not happen by design, in fact, it was something I was doing as a passion project, to bring like-minded women together so we could have the support network around us. I started to host events in London that quickly turned into an international network of women cheering me on this journey. A year later we made the Women in Business Club official and launched a membership club and international events for women.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I remember reaching the first milestone of 10k followers online within just a few months of officially launching the Women in Business Club. I remember going into a meeting with potential event sponsors, and leading the conversation with what we had done to date.

As soon as I mentioned our social stats the conversation changed very quickly and I was able to secure the deal within minutes. Before then, I didn’t realize just how powerful it is to have a truly supportive and thriving community and social proof to back that. Following our initial success, we reached the 100k followers mark within a year on our Instagram page and now with over 250k followers across our social media platforms, we continue to grow globally.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I remember receiving a message from a random person on Instagram two years ago, asking if they could sponsor some of our social media posts. He claimed to be from the Gary Vee agency. At first, I didn’t quite believe it, so I naturally asked lots of questions and asked why they were interested in collaborating with us.

It wasn’t something we were doing at the time, but I really could not say no to working with Gary Vaynerchuk. They assured me that it was real and that they were looking to reach a wider female audience. When we exchanged details, I was supposed to send them an email with an invoice, and I made a mistake of spelling Gary’s surname wrong, only to receive a reply with correction. After that, I don’t underestimate those who reach out to us via IG DM’s and the opportunities it may lead to, as well as cross-checking names when sending people emails or drawing up invoices.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The first person who really helped me gain my confidence in business was my first mentor, John Elsden. I met him at one of the networking events I attended in London in the first year of my first business, and we continued to stay in touch and eventually work together.

He has held many CEO, Directorship and other roles, with more than 60 businesses in his life, and continues to work in the investment world. He still sits on the board of my own company which has been invaluable in helping us meet our legal and structural obligations as a business and do things correctly. He taught me everything I know about running a business, filing accounts, holding board meetings and structuring a business for scale.

Working alongside him for years I learned about business planning, investments, how to build and scale a business. I shadowed his work for several years and attended some incredible meetings with VCs and investors and eventually got to work on funding projects alongside him and the team. I learned what it takes for a business to be backed by investors and how to prepare a business for investment or sale. This has given me a real insight into the business world, that I would otherwise have not had.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I don’t think there is anything holding women back from starting a business other than confidence and belief in themselves, as we’ve seen a huge rise in the number of women starting businesses, more so than ever before. But I think what is holding women back is having financial education and a focus on money. We are fantastic at handling marketing, nurturing relationships, creating brands and driving the vision, but I find that most women shy away from talking about money and ultimately focusing on building wealth.

I think the conversation about money and wealth needs to start early and become a subject we discuss at home, with our partners, husbands and feel ok about doing that. I think there is the old perception of ‘housewife’ that is still prominent and this needs to change with dialogue and awareness. I don’t think women can build wealth unless the role of equality at home starts to shift in a way where we are as respected and valued as breadwinners at home.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Absolutely, I see so many women start a business and become confident in themselves. We flourish and thrive when we have a personal goal, a mission and a dream. It comes to our personal fulfillment to realizing our potential, in becoming who we are meant to be. I see women become confident, glowing and fearless when they start to pursue their goals and this is what I want for every woman. It also empowers us to be independent and equal to our counterparts, which builds on confidence and self-belief, knowing we are playing an equal part in society.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder. Can you explain what you mean?

A lot of people think that being your own business owner means you get to sit around all day in your PJ’s and drink tea. Having a diary wide open to do whatever we please. The reality of running your own business comes with a lot of sacrifice. This means at times we need to work harder, pour in more hours than we would in a regular job and sacrifice time with our loved ones, as well as many other things.

Everything you see that someone has become an overnight success is not true, most successful people go through years of knockbacks, sacrifices, touch lessons and personal mastery in order to get to where they are going.

So, when you think entrepreneurs sit back drinking tea all day, think again! We work twice as hard as we would in a regular job, so eventually, we can have freedom and success like no job could ever provide.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Wow, this is a big question and yes, there is a huge difference in founder mentality and that of an employee. Employees tend to crave safety, comfort and predictability. They are usually not risk-takers and are happy to follow a lead or protocol of a certain way of doing things.

Whereas an entrepreneur is usually a risk-taker, who has a vision that is a strong pull towards being their own boss and doing things your way. I find that to be a successful entrepreneur you have to have belief in your vision and confidence in yourself to know that you can pull this off. You also need to have such belief that you are able to sell your vision to others before that vision is a reality.

A business owner also needs to have a sense of responsibility and leadership, because when you are the founder everything starts and ends with you. You have to have the energy and drive to pursue that vision and at times, feel like everything may crumble, but still have faith to continue moving forward and inspire others. There are lots of skills that a founder needs, and I do think anyone can become one, only with a shift in the mindset of becoming one.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

I wish someone told me that the road to success wasn’t as linear and it would take many years to figure out what it takes to run a successful business. And the sooner you can find people who can mentor you or coach you on your journey the quicker you will be able to find the shortcuts, by learning from others.

Entrepreneurship is big of a personal development journey that would uncover everything about your personality, values, traits and self-mastery. No one really talks about this, but being a business owner exposes all your mindset flaws, and forces you to grow as a person. Without personal growth, there cannot be business growth and at every stage of your growth, you will face new challenges internally.

Never undervalue yourself. When you start out in business, you think you need to undervalue your services because you are just starting out, and you want to appeal or please people. The reality is, if you deliver value to people, they will pay for it. However, the value is determined by you and that comes from mindset. No premium brand has ever started with low-cost products, because that is not their positioning. Understanding where you want to position yourself with pricing is a tough lesson I had to learn.

You will need a lot of grit to keep going. Because an entrepreneurial journey is not an easy one, and there will be days when you just want to give up. This comes with the territory and more than anything I come back to my purpose and why I started a business in the first place.

You need a supportive tribe around you — it has taken me years to realize that I can’t do it all on my own. When I started to surround myself with like-minded people that is when everything changed. My perception opened up to new possibilities, I started to create more opportunities, collaborate with people and have my own community of cheerleaders. So, if you are just starting out in business, start growing your network early and keep some of the best and most aligned people close.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We make a positive social impact by empowering women with skills and knowledge to support their growth and help them succeed. One of the practical ways we support women is giving opportunity for first-time speakers to share a stage with more experienced and sought-after speakers, to help them raise their profile and have their story heard by a large audience.

Over the years we have hosted over 300 speakers, many of whom were first-time speakers or up-and-coming experts in their industries. As a result, they have been able to grow and land more speaking opportunities, find new clients and cheerleaders who support them in business, as a result of hearing their stories and teachings on our platform. We are particularly proud of this, as there are not so many platforms that are available for women who are up-and-coming in business.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

One simple idea is to encourage women to support each other in business. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture but simply leaving a comment on fellow entrepreneurs’ posts to say you are supporting them. This gives social proof and helps them be seen by more people. Over time, this creates impact, self-belief, confidence and encouragement that leads to more positivity and results. Running a business is not easy, and seeing a simple comment of support can positively impact someone’s day. As our slogan goes, empowered women, empower women. It starts there, then we can support each other in sharing opportunities, buying each other’s products, giving guidance and mentorship.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to connect to Sara Blakely — I think she is such an inspiration for women all around the world, as an entrepreneur, mum, and thought leader. She has inspired my journey in business and continues to pursue great cause-worthy initiatives to support women. She is certainly someone I would certainly feel privileged to connect with and interview her on our Inspiring Women Stories Podcast.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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