In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you, and what’s your business?
I am Dr. Gia Wiggins, Founder of Auditocity, the human resources compliance auditing platform that transforms how business leaders assess the practices that impact their most valuable asset: their people.
And as strange as it sounds, I live and breathe HR. In fact, my passion for the field rivals any sports fanatic’s love for their home team. I’ve been an executive in the field for 20 years, both in-house and then running a sought-after consultancy in the space. I’ve seen it all, which led me to build Auditocity. The platform answers the age-old business question, “How do I know all the things human resources is supposed to do?”
What inspired you to create this business?
I believe that a perfect business idea marries passion and skillset. Once I came to terms that I would never sing like Whitney Houston and a record deal was off the table, I leaned into my natural affinity for my skillset in HR.
Looking back, if I dared share with a previous employer that I wanted to create a SaaS platform to help build and repair their HR functions, they would have thought I was mad. It’s a big task, but one that is critical in my field.
After years of building longstanding relationships with my clients, I was fortunate to have a waiting list of companies that wanted my 1:1 service, but ultimately there weren’t enough hours in the day to provide that level of service to everyone. Automation was vital for me. I had to find a way to give every potential client the same high level of commitment and service but make it available to a larger audience. Human Resource professionals and business owners have a tremendous weight on their shoulders. If we can ease that burden for both companies and help employees have a better workplace, we are fulfilling a dream come true for millions.
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What has been your biggest challenge, and how did you pivot to overcome it?
Scaling my consulting business was impossible. It’s a problem lots of small businesses experience.
My way to scale HR auditing and remediation was to build something that trained, guided and assessed companies’ HR programs. I needed to feel we were solving a critical problem while allowing my company to grow to its full potential. Auditocity was born from that need.
The biggest challenge came from the fact that I’m an HR nerd, not a tech expert.
I knew I had a program that could make HR auditing attainable for countless companies, but a platform wasn’t going to build itself. I woke at 4 am one morning with a voracious desire to make a plan. I searched my network and colleagues for a development partner and set up meetings with a couple. I found the most fantastic development group who told me the truth and showed me how it could work. He believed in the vision early on and thought it would be a game changer in my industry. Today, he is a part of my team of experts.
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What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking for funding vs. bootstrapping?
While I am proud and constantly bragged that Auditocity is mostly a bootstrapped company, I recognize that seeking funding is often a necessary way to get your business in front of the people and companies you designed it for.
My advice is, don’t let pride get in the way. Set meetings, talk to people about what you are building, and sell potential investors on the possibilities.
Pitching your dream and sharing it with people who are also dreamers is romantic. Building a relationship from a common interest that has the potential to change the lives of investors, founders, and customers may be the most important relationship one can enter. Ultimately, we are recruiting people to invest in us and expect a fruitful return.
Where should entrepreneurs look for funding?
As a huge believer in mentorship, I advocate for building relationships with experts in raising, and asking them to take you under their wing.
Fundraising experts have the unique ability to objectively advise and find funding sources that fit your needs by removing the emotional equity stake out of your ability to raise. My skill is HR, so I leaned on someone who had fundraising as their superpower.
Related: You Don’t Have to Be a Business Owner to Think Like an Entrepreneur
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
In an early incubator program, my group was asked to dream about what we would do in our business if there were no limits. Our facilitator said if people that heard it didn’t think we were out of our minds, we didn’t dream big enough.
Entrepreneur means chasing down an “out of your mind” dream until you can’t chase it any longer. My mission is to live boldly, take risks, and follow a passion until others see the magic and join the journey.
I decided the life of an entrepreneur for me meant building a team that shocks themselves daily with what they have accomplished together. We work on innovation that doesn’t have a rule book. We are making our own rules as we go.
What is something many aspiring business owners think they need that they really don’t?
Every business doesn’t need a co-founder. I am a solopreneur, but I am not alone.
By the time multiple sources said I needed a co-founder, Auditocity was almost ready for alpha testing. During a co-founder matchmaker meeting, I met a great guy who had just completed an exit. After a series of questions, he asked, ‘why do you think you need a co-founder?’. I honestly replied that everyone told me that I did. His advice was great. He told me that I had built a solid and capable team of experts who did an excellent job and that I didn’t need a co-founder; I already founded the platform.
Early on, I figured out what I could do and what I was willing to outsource. There is no one right path. Do what is right for your business based on the company’s needs. I have a team of experts that are a mixture of full-time team members and outsourcing partners. I find that partnering with businesses that are experts at their craft is best for me. I will put my team up against any other!
What is a quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
Fear can prevent the best idea or business from moving forward. Doubt and fear of failure that paralyzes innovation is a lie. My faith has been so critical to me during my business journey. That strong faith in God helped me to understand what is real is power, love, and clarity. That is what I seek and desire.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
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