Sarah Corrigan | Founder, Leblum

"My mentality used to be work harder, longer, faster.. It’s not a sustainable approach to running a business or having a balanced and fulfilling life outside of business. Having balance and compassion for yourself should be a non-negotiable."

How do you start your day?

Before 5am with yoga and lemon.

Who inspires you? 

Danny Meyer, Marcus Lemonis + Beyonce

What would you tell yourself as a teenager? 

Dump him!

Best advice ever received? 

Eat your vegetables.

What do you need to get through each day?

My sweet dog, Lucy.

What are your reading? 

Venture Capital for Dummies

Briefly describe your business and inspiration for it.

Leblum is a software that geolocates you and connects you to flower vendors or growers that are in your area for immediate access to impeccable grade stems at near wholesale prices. It’s long been a firm belief of mine that flowers are not a luxury – they’re an imperative, here on this earth to remind us of our own inherent beauty and grace. Leblum helps this industry evolve in way that gives more people access to this super nourishing beauty.

What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

Actually, I used to ask people to remind me never to become an entrepreneur. There is so much room for failure! I didn’t think my skin was thick enough. But life has a funny way of making you face your fears. I’ve now somehow owned three profitable companies here in New York, my last one, a flower shop in TriBeCa – selling for an eight-time return after two years. I’m not sure I decided to become an entrepreneur, I think it decided to become me.

What has been the key to your success?

It requires a lot of energy to take an idea to reality so you have to be fanatical about surrounding yourself with support and positivity. For me, other people’s doubts were like bullets to the hull of my ship. I am semi-obsessive about rooting out fear and negativity on a daily basis.

What challenges did you face in the early days of being the Founder of your own business?

We were pitching to investors before we even launched our company. When you’re sharing an idea that is pretty much just an idea, people will tell you what they think can and can’t be done, or suggestions for what to do and how. Because of this, we made about a dozen pivots in out first six months. It was exhausting. The day we stopped taking meetings and just went back to what we wanted to do was the same day our KPIs began climbing consistently. Intuition and data combined are sufficient guides and indicators of whether or not your company has a reason to exist. Consider peoples’ doubts, but never cater to them.

When self-doubt hits, what do you do?

I take a few deep breaths, stop thinking and hop into a yoga class.

What is your biggest fear as an entrepreneur?

An Insufficient Funds notification.

What aspect of being a start-up entrepreneur do you love and or dislike?

Dislike: that moment when you look at something and say “oh my gosh, this is impossible.” Like: that moment when you look back and say “wow, we were so brave.”

Which books, articles, blogs have helped shape your business and or leadership style?

Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table 

Myss’s The Anatomy of the Spirit 

Any go-to resources that you have found useful to run your business?

Techsters. Being accepted and going through this accelerator (they’re considered the top accelerator in the world!) with Leblum was a God-send. Their network of mentors and advisors has been instrumental every step of the way.

What has been your best strategy for selling your product or service and what have you learned along the way?

The most important thing in business is to build a genuine connection with your consumers and suppliers – and to do that you need to create value for both of them. The I need you to buy my product mentality changes the dynamic of the entire interaction. The exchange becomes exhausting for everyone involved and therefore may not be the best approach for building solid relationships. So I try to think of business not as selling, but as in creating value. My objective is to simply connect with people who believe and value the same things that Leblum stands for.

How did your experiences in the corporate world prepare you for entrepreneurship, or not?

I was a designer for a large corporate architectural firm. I’ve found that building technology is almost exactly like tackling the design and build-out of large projects. We start with the main vision, moving on to UX flow which is similar to creating the construction documents. From there you go into detailed technical drawings of each part, breaking that down with a team of engineers into functionality, budget and schedule. The inside of an entrepreneur’s brain tends to have a lot going on so this organized and systematic approach has been awesome.

What do you think the most important attribute a female entrepreneur/business owner can have?

Balance and compassion; for yourself, your suppliers and customers.

What would you say to another woman who asked you if they should take the leap and start their own business?

How long is your runway and do you have a strategy for being cashflow positive within that time? Business is not equal to charity and so being aware of your financial health and making decisions in accord to it are fundamental to getting you to where you want to be. Same advice I’d give to a man.