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Season 4 - Episode 7:

Building a Diverse Portfolio with Lisa Song Sutton

Building a Diverse Portfolio with Lisa Song Sutton

Episode Summary

What do boozy cupcakes and real estate have in common? If you’re Lisa Song Sutton, Las Vegas-based entrepreneur and former Miss Nevada, they’re just two parts of a wildly diverse business portfolio. Lisa is a former model and lawyer immersed in the entrepreneurial world: she’s both a small-business owner herself and an angel investor. Today we talk to her about her passion for diversification.

Episode Notes

Lisa Song Sutton describes herself as a “serial entrepreneur,” and her portfolio is proof. From Sin City Cupcakes—a boozy bakery she co-founded in 2012—to Ship Las Vegas, her mailbox and shipping stores across the city, Lisa’s portfolio is a truly diverse set of business assets. Add in her real estate sales team, not to mention a women’s swimwear and accessories e-commerce store, and we are wowed. Her goal is to build up lifestyle businesses to eventually graduate from running the day-to-day and take on new projects. “I’m big on legacy building,” she says.

You may know Lisa from her 2014 stint as Miss Nevada. Lisa’s mother is a former Miss Korea who encouraged her to go the pageant route. Lisa got a late start in the pageant scene, making her debut at 29 (right before she aged out of the competition altogether). As part of her training, she worked with established pageant coach Bill Alverson, who focused less on what she looked like in a bathing suit and more on what she had to say. “By the time I competed, I was done with grad school. I was a business owner by then. I had a different lens and perspective on the title.” Lisa saw her time as Miss Nevada as a way to step up her involvement in the local community. “Why not get further ingratiated?”

After the crown comes the community service: Sutton made nearly 500 appearances as Miss Las Vegas and Miss Nevada. She volunteered in schools, read in hospitals, and made personal connections with people in her community. “It was an incredible experience.” 

Her knack for connecting to others has made her a natural at business partnerships. She took on her first founding role in 2012 with Sin City Cupcakes, a business she launched with a friend while still working as a lawyer. Lisa is a fan of teaming up with her friends. “There’s value in partnering with someone you really know. You know what they’re like when they’re angry when they’ve had a bad day when they’re stressed out. You know what happens.” (And Sutton’s partners know her personality as well!) Her advice for a successful partnership is to “make sure everything is papered up.” But treating business agreements like a living document is also key because as the company grows, your roles will change. 

Lisa is currently on the board of StartUp Nevada, an incubator supporting entrepreneurs in that state. As an angel investor, her advice to female entrepreneurs is simple: ask for the money! “It’s never perfect, but you have to take action.”  She suggests female entrepreneurs give themselves a boost by following successful business leaders like Sarah Blakely (the founder of Spanx), who share resources and encouragement with their followers. “Who are you following? What kind of data and messaging are you consuming as a woman, a female founder and an entrepreneur?” Unfollow the accounts that don’t add value, and chase the ones that give info and encouragement. She also encourages female entrepreneurs to familiarize themselves with their local networks of female angel investors, who are often eager to work with women. But, she says, think carefully about where your business is going: do you have an exit strategy to ensure your investors get paid? 

In the nitty-gritty, she encourages women to focus on metrics when pitching—storytelling is a bonus, but focusing on OKRs gives investors a peek at your gameplan. Taking a business’s goals quarter by quarter communicates a long-term vision in a way that is concrete and accessible to the folks considering a pitch. She says that, compared to male entrepreneurs, women wait longer and are further down the pipeline before they start pitching for investments. “We talk ourselves out of being ready. We have to get out of our own way.” As she puts it: closed mouths don’t get fed. Especially not cupcakes! 
 

Resources

To learn more about our guest, go to https://www.lisasongsutton.com/

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