Springstead.co Founder, Julie Shen, on Turning Ideas into Strategy and Dreams into Results
Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:
I founded Springstead.co to help entrepreneurs and startups drive purpose and results through strategy, business development, and business execution. Springstead works with businesses on developing and executing strategic opportunities, such as new launches, new initiatives, value creation, innovation and diversification, business expansion, and market pivots. I am passionate about turning ideas into strategy and dreams into results.
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
15 years ago, I made an intentional decision to not be on social media because I wanted to focus on smaller, more intimate IRL connections. As I launch Springstead (which went live 2 weeks ago), I made the intentional decision to get back on Instagram, so I can broaden my network and expand my impact. This is how I discovered Entreprenista — on Instagram — and I’m so happy I did! I’m excited to be part of a community of like-minded women so we can learn from each other and help lift each other as we rise.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I spent 15 years building, managing, and leading new initiatives for large, prominent corporations. I loved developing and executing new ideas but like a lot of people in 2021, felt like I needed a change. After taking some time off to refuel my soul, I came back feeling ready, replenished, and determined. I felt a sense of calling and purpose. I love building businesses and knew that I needed to bring my experience and expertise to smaller, more focused organizations that are purpose-driven–so I can see the actual impact that I’m making.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I led and managed the strategy, development, and launch of profitable emerging consumer initiatives at organizations like Conde Nast, HBO, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. I had the fortunate career of being on both the strategy and development side and then going on to execute the strategic plans that my team developed. I have incubated and launched new lines of business, overseeing the strategy, growth & marketing, distribution, partnerships, and monetization. My experience includes innovation strategy and business development, deal negotiation and partnerships, monetization, distribution, and audience growth, and P&L and business management.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Actually no! Growing up in Asian culture and background, my parents pushed me to be a professional and my aim was to be an executive at a large, well-known corporation. It was thrilling when I achieved that milestone, but slowly I realized that I wanted to build something of my own. And I wanted to help other females and founders do the same. To be honest, I still haven’t wrapped my mind around being an entrepreneur. Deep down, I feel like I haven’t earned that title yet. But that’s why being part of Entreprenista will be so valuable — you will help keep me accountable for when I should be proud of the progress I’ve made!
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out, and did it go as planned?
I’m still in the launch phase of my business. I established a multi-pronged, omnichannel approach to marketing. In short, this means that I am investing and broadening my network and community, and building a profile for myself as an authority and thought leader. One of my goals is to create more content and collaborate with networks to inspire and help women build businesses.
What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn from it?
As previously mentioned, I intentionally lived a lifestyle of contraction, elimination, and simplification. I did not have social media and I focused my energy on my immediate network and friendships to nurture more authentic connections. Now, as I build and launch my own business, I am propelling myself in an upswing of expansion. To go from one end to the other can be difficult!
What is the accomplishment you are the proudest of to date?
While the results and achievements of my work are quantifiable, the accomplishment I’m most proud of is more qualitative. I am most proud of my ability to evolve, transform, and pivot while knowing where my center is, and never straying far from my values. I believe in action and when I have come to the conclusion that something is not serving me, I take action to change that. It doesn’t mean that the process of change is not difficult or challenging (it always certainly is), but I know in my gut that it’s the right move and what I need in order to grow.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Absolutely! That is one of the reasons I left the corporate world! The best thing about being an entrepreneur is that you are in the driver’s seat of how you allocate your time. And even if work is busy or stressful for a period of time, at least you know that your hard work is going towards your equity. That is certainly better than sweating over something you don’t have equity in. And because you are in the driver’s seat, you can choose how you ease out of that stress period and find more balance in life.
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
Starting a business is a tension of great emotions. One day you’re feeling confident, energetic, and powerful. The next day, you’re knocked off your pedestal doubting some of your decisions. That path to “success” is windy, unpredictable, and non-linear. You will need to swerve and dodge and cut your own path when none is presented to you. But on your most vulnerable days, know this: the experience of being an entreprenista is a shared one, that we are all in this together and together, we can usher each other forward.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
I know this is going to sound lame on the scale of social followers, but for someone who is just getting back into social media for the first time in 15 years — we have reached 100 followers on Instagram!
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We want to grow Springstead to be an incredible source for founders, startups, and businesses. This would include advisory, consultancy, and investment. We want to expand our premium, direct consulting services to productized models so we can meet businesses wherever they are, no matter the size or budget. If we encounter startups with incredible potential, we would invest in them and fuel them with capital as well as advisory. And as we scour the landscape for untapped opportunities, we would launch new lines of businesses that really bring purpose and impact under the Springstead umbrella.
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