Diana House is a lawyer turned serial entrepreneur who is obsessed with empowering entrepreneurs around their business finances. She has been featured as one of the top female entrepreneurs in Canada by the w100 and also recognized as a top 20 under 40 entrepreneur by Business London.
Diana has built a highly profitable 7 figure company, been on Dragon's Den (the Canadian version of Shark Tank), done a successful crowdsourcing campaign and sold two businesses in the e-commerce space. She now works with her fellow entrepreneur husband on Fast Forward Ventures a company focussed on private financing and commercial real estate investing.
Diana currently consults 1-on-1 with entrepreneurs on their business’ finances and is writing "the" book and course on entrepreneur finance "by an entrepreneur."
What do you think has contributed to your success?
Diana would like to say it was talent but admits it was grind. She is not one of those people that think you need to grind your whole life and work 60-80 hours a week. But she got to where she is today through hard work and determination.
When her companies were in start-up mode she worked her butt off. There are certain seasons where you need to have laser focus and, determination and do whatever it takes.
So let’s talk about your first business and the grind there. What did that really look like when you were first starting out?
After applying for creative roles and not getting a single interview Diana was struggling. This was her time to get out there and start adding value to the world, but no-one wanted her. One day she went to a job fair and instead of applying for a job, she ended up applying for a business grant. She received a $3000 to start a new company. The day she launched her e-commerce website she paid for the site in a single day and did over $10K in sales. This company was Tiny Devotions which sold mala beads and yoga inspired jewelry. This was the first company to make a product in this niche in North America.
After you decided not to become a layer you started making mala beads. How did that come about?
After law school, knew she didn’t want to be a lawyer but didn’t have a better plan. So she sold all her belongings and fled to Bali where she signed up for a yoga teacher training. In Bali, she started to look for a business idea. She came up with 3 ideas, import art from Bali, do yoga teaching and retreats or create yoga jewelry. She had followed the rise of Lululemon and could see that yoga was growing in popularity and an industry was springing up around it.
Where did money fit into her mindset?
Diana knew she was going back to Canada from Australia in 2 months and that that was when reality was to set in. She felt going to Bali was her last opportunity to do something crazy before going back to Canada and she even went into debt in order to go. When she went back to Canada she did a legal placement while living with her parents. After a talk from her father, she realized she needed to minimize her discretionary spending and pay off her debt. After that experience, she decided to learn to manage her money and never be in debt again.
How did you find customers when you launched?
What worked 10 years ago would not work now. She used social media and influencer marketer – before influencer marketing was a thing. She did this by sending products to influential yoga teachers.
With her current company, which she started 3 months ago, she is not yet doing paid marketing. Although she has the money for it, at this stage in the company she is leveraging relationships she has built over the years to get access to audiences.
What has been your experience with exits?
The second company she created was actually sold first. This was an e-commerce sock company that was also a social enterprise company. It loaned profits from the socks to entrepreneurs in Cuba.
Tiny Devotions became successful very quickly, but Diana struggled to feel in alignment with the business for many years. It took 2 years to sell the business and she had 20 deals fall apart before she was able to sell the company. Now looking back, she realizes she should have started the process of selling the company as soon as she started to fall out of alignment with it.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a transition because they are out of alignment?
Having awareness is really important and coaches can really help with that. Diana worked with career transition coach Rikke Hansen for a year when she decided to sell Tiny Devotions.
She also points out that it is important to take baby steps and that trial runs can be extremely helpful.
I’d love to hear about your current business. What are you offering?
Diana has a private lending company that gives loans to people who banks won’t finance. She is also a commercial real state developer and investor. These are things she runs concurrently with her entrepreneurial ventures.
Since she had experience in the finance space she decided to start providing financial consulting to entrepreneurs. She is currently started working 1 on 1 with entrepreneurs in her network, taking them through the framework she has developed over the past 10 years. In the spring she will be launching the Profit Accelerator which will be a group-based program for entrepreneurs.
What do you do to maintain your level of ability to perform?
She is finding that being in startup mode, she currently has an unstoppable mindset. As a Christian, she puts her faith first, with a prayer practice and regularly going to church. She finds journaling important to be reflective and self-aware. She also likes to have a community of strong women around her to call her on her bullshit.
Although she loves the grind, it can be crazy and she tries to make sure that she is able to dial it back when she needs to.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice she’s been given was from her neighbor, who was a very successful entrepreneur. He told her that ‘what is more important than what you do with your life, is who you spend it with’.
What’s an action step that you want to offer someone listening to this podcast?
She has an opt-in on her website www.dianahouse.com that has her framework – 10 profitability essentials for entrepreneurs.
Outside her own stuff, if you’ve never had a coach, hire a coach. Hire a great coach and do the work to enable you to grow as fast and as big as you can.
How can we get in-touch with you?
Early Exits: Exit Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Angel Investors by Basil Peters