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In building a business, ‘Your team is everything’ | Lessons for Leaders


Alicia Jackson, founder and CEO of Evernow, discussed the importance of finding the right people to help young companies grow and succeed.

As the founder and CEO of Evernow, Alicia Jackson understands the challenges that come with building a company.

Image credit: Evernow

Alicia Jackson, founder and CEO of Evernow, stresses the importance of finding the right people to help companies succeed.

Evernow is a virtual care company helping women navigate menopause, which Jackson says is “the trigger of all the diseases of aging for women.” The company helps women in menopause, and those making the transition to menopause. Patients can subscribe for memberships and get guidance from experts in dealing with various symptoms.

When she spoke with Chief Healthcare Executive® in a recent interview, Jackson talked about the challenges for founders and the lessons she has learned in building her company.

In offering guidance for others starting companies, Jackson says, with a bit of a laugh, “Everything is harder than you think it will be. It will take twice as long as you need it to.”

Jackson also stresses the importance of founders picking the right people to help build their companies.

“Your team is everything,” Jackson says.

She says founders need employees who have “bought into the vision and the mission and they're going to be a great team member who wants to be in it with you, who can go through the hard time.”

In hiring, Jackson says founders need to hold out for the right people.

“It’s hard because sometimes you want to take a shortcut,” she says. “In my own personal experience, I had to learn those hard lessons. Sure, they can be a great person and a great friend, but that might not mean that they’re the person you want building your company with you.”

Jackson also says it’s important to look beyond the resume.

“Get really clear on what you need this person to do,” Jackson says. “Personal references can’t be beat. Check the heck out of anybody you’re going to hire if you can.”

As founders begin building their teams, Jackson says they need to be humble and delegate to their employees.

“Entrepreneurs can sometimes get into this trap, which I'm guilty of,” she says. “You're so used to doing everything yourself that you forget that the whole reason you're building a team is that you don't have to do everything yourself, because there's no way you can scale yourself.”

Founders may have a vision for their company, but they also need to balance that vision with accepting feedback and different points of view.

“Many folks have lots of experience and lots of expertise,” she says. “But at the same time, nobody knows how to build this startup better than you do. And so it's about being humble and being very open to other perspectives on your business, and at the same time listening to that inner voice about the vision of what you're building.”

Individuals building their own companies also need to think carefully about their business model. Founders need to consider “the type of funding you want to bring in and the rate of growth you want to have,” she says.

Jackson gained valuable insights from her time with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a military agency which engages in cutting-edge and innovative research. She worked as the deputy director of the biological technologies office, and that’s where she became excited about applying research and technology to healthcare.

At the agency known as DARPA, Jackson says she was able “to see firsthand how basically building a startup could actually take these advances and push them out to the world, especially with the consumer focus.”

“I became very excited about that potential,” Jackson says. “Healthcare is a pretty antiquated industry. Most of it is oriented around insurance payers and, and one of the ways to break out of that is to go direct to the consumer, which is one of the things we're doing with Evernow.”

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