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    GGBA Member Spotlight: Suzette Lin, J.D., of Substantia Law Group

    For those seeking legal help concerning mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, private placements, ventures, contracts of all varieties, and more, Substantia Law Group has you covered. Managing Principal Suzette Lin, J.D., has a stellar background including her education at the Hong Kong International School, Boston University, the University of San Francisco Law School (where she earned her juris doctorate with honors), the University of Hong Kong, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

    GGBA: Please tell us more about Substantia Law Group.

    Suzette Lin, J.D.: Substantia Law Group advises small businesses and startups on every legal matter the companies face, from formation to financing to exit. We serve clients throughout the Bay Area and are located in The Castro District in San Francisco. 

    GGBA: Why did you decide to establish your own firm?

    Suzette Lin, J.D.: I started out my legal career working in a big corporate law firm in Silicon Valley back in 2000. Then I spent some time overseas in China and was General Counsel for two medium-size companies there. I met my wife in Beijing and we returned together to the Bay Area in 2014. As someone who has personally handled business and startups valued from a million to 2 billion, I decided to start my own firm where I would have more flexibility and better work-life balance.

    GGBA: Who are some of your role models, and especially those who helped to influence your business?

    Suzette Lin, J.D.: My mother is one of my top role models and I have met many mentors along my career path. She grew up on a farm in a remote part of Taiwan and had 11 other siblings. She was the only one who made it past middle school and then graduated from college. When we first immigrated to the U.S., she couldn’t speak a word of English, and to help ends meet she would do house cleaning and work at the nearby mall in Westchester; she also went to the local community college to learn English. She was always very dynamic, into self-development, and loved people. By her mid-40s, she decided to start investing in real estate and soon she also became an entrepreneur. She had a large network of professional contacts and close friends because she was compassionate, a great listener, and a real no-nonsense doer. Throughout her life I saw her build successful businesses in retail, restaurant management, and education. Many were surprised that, even in her late 70s, she was vibrant and a President of a boarding school in China that had nearly 1000 students. She always taught us to stick to our values, to work hard, and to respect everyone.

    GGBA: Why did you decide to join the GGBA, and how long have you been a member?

    Suzette Lin, J.D.: I recently rejoined since we moved back to the city during the start of the pandemic in May 2020. As someone who always likes to be active in the community, I am looking forward to meeting more minority women business owners in San Francisco.

    GGBA: What other advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting their own business?

    Suzette Lin, J.D.: First of all, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur—it’s okay. Realize what your risk tolerance is; it might not be your thing. Once you have decided either with yourself or with your loved ones that this is what you want to do, start researching and do due diligence on the industry and talk to people. Advice from veterans is always important, but also realize that you are your own unique person with your own strengths and weaknesses. When possible, find a partner or partners, or at least have a confidant with whom you can bounce ideas.

    You can be passionate about something, but you also need to be practical. As a business owner, you often have to deal with administrative matters, such as legal and accounting. You do have to understand your costs and expenses. For example, if you want to scale (increase your business size, open multiple branches, or even different businesses), consider if you really have the bandwidth, know-how, or want to deal with managing a bigger workforce.

    Whether you are in a brick-and-mortar business or a startup, networking and public speaking skills will come in handy. The first 3 to 5 years may be challenging, but keep working on it and be adaptable to changing demands.

    GGBA: Is there anything else that you would like to share?  

    Suzette Lin, J.D.: I am a mother to a toddler and am currently the Co-Chair of the Career & Entrepreneur Committee of GGMG (Golden Gate Mothers Group). I am also a member of BALIF (Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, the LGBTQ Bar) and the Asian American Bar Association. To be honest, I have noticed most women often think too much before they dive into starting a business. And most of the time, they are better qualified and smarter than the men I have worked with. Especially, if you are already living in the Bay Area, most likely, you are educated and have a network of contacts who are willing to provide you with resources or even to join you on the journey. So, “Don’t over-think it, just do it!” would be my advice.

    Substantia Law Group on Yelp:

    Published on October 7, 2021

    GGBA Calendar

    Tuesday, October 12
    October Make Contact – Member to Member Networking
    5:30 pm–6:30 pm
    Meet new and established members for several rounds of breakout rooms sure to help foster connections in the GGBA family. 
    Via Zoom (link to be sent 1 hour before event start)

    Monday, October 18
    PG&E Economic Summit Access to Capital Market and Resources for Small Business
    2 pm–3:30 pm
    The webinar will examine economic and financial topics affecting consumers and communities, provide guidance on accessing capital and financial products tailored to small businesses, describe development resources available for small business (training and business development), and will include talking with small businesses experienced in doing business with corporations

    Wednesday, October 20
    StartOut Equity Summit
    8 am–1 pm
    This virtual event will intentionally focus on ways for underrepresented entrepreneurs to thrive across geographies and industries regardless of their background.

    Tuesday, November 9
    November Make Contact – Member to Member Networking
    5:30 pm–6:30 pm
    Meet new and established members for several rounds of breakout rooms sure to help foster connections in the GGBA family. 
    Via Zoom (link to be sent 1 hour before event start)

    Thursday, November 11
    GGBA Power Pitch – Fall 2021
    This first Virtual Power Pitch of 2021 will be a pre-kick off to our in-person Power Pitch during the Power Lunch 2022. Four member LGBT Certified Business Enterprises (LGBTBE) will be pitching to our partners, our membership, and hopefully you!

    Thursday, November 11
    11th Annual California Cable Supplier Diversity Symposium
    9 am–12 pm
    The Symposium will engage, educate & strategically connect diverse suppliers with important Cable Industry trends and opportunities. Meet Supplier Diversity representatives, Buyers, and Prime Suppliers in this virtual 1-day event.

    Wednesday, November 17–Friday, November 19
    NGLCC Back to Business (B2B) Summit
    A Solidarity Rally, Awards Gala, breakout sessions, one-on-one Matchmaker meetings, and more will be held.

    Published on October 7, 2021