Now is the perfect time to take the leap to entrepreneurship
So you want to start your own company? Congratulations! There are few things more gratifying and empowering than building something from scratch that could change the world and get you closer to your financial dreams.
And the timing couldn’t be better: Startup activity in the U.S. is rising after being at its lowest point in 20 years, with the rate of new entrepreneurs increasing by 15% over the past two years, according to the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity. That equals roughly 550,000 new business owners each month.
Now, let’s look at how the fairer sex is faring: Womenable reports that the number of women-owned firms in the U.S. is now estimated to have surpassed 9.4 million enterprises — 30% of all businesses in the country. And the revenue generated by these enterprises is now estimated to stand at nearly $1.5 trillion, which proves these ladies are making money!
Whether you’re sick of the soul-sucking rat race that is Corporate America, you have an exciting product or service to offer that could disrupt the marketplace, you’re re-entering the workforce after raising a family, or you’ve been told a hundred times that you would make a great entrepreneur, there’s just no reason to settle for a job you hate and an uncertain financial future in this day and age.
The hardest step is always the first, because the perfect recipe for starting a new business is not something you can learn by reading books, getting a brain dump for a mentor, or creating a solid business plan (though these things are all valuable, so I certainly encourage you to do them). While you’ll learn the most by doing (and making mistakes), let me offer a few pointers to prevent a few of the most common pitfalls you’re likely to experience:
1. Follow Your Passion. They say if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. It’s crucial that your business venture be something you are passionate about, because you’re going to be spending most of your waking hours doing it. Entrepreneurship isn’t like clocking into a job or even working a few extra hours here and there at a salaried role. It’s something that you’ll be living and breathing and probably obsessing over when you can’t sleep late at night, so it should be something that you are just crazy about. Plus, when you’re passionate about something, your enthusiasm is contagious — and that’s how you’ll excel at things like sales, negotiations, securing funding/partners, etc. Another way to think about this concept is to “define your why,” which I talk more about here.
2. Be One With Your Brand. Your brand says everything about you and your company, so it should be clearly defined and then consistently applied across everything you do. Your brand no only encompasses your logo, messaging, fonts and color palette, but also your mission statement, values, quality and approach to customer service. Brand consistency will serve to build trust with your customers (and potential ones), establish credibility, and differentiate you from your competitors. For instance, my brand is centered around providing a positive learning environment for financial education to women — and that’s at the core of all my endeavors.
3. Get Over Your Fear. I get it: Making a big change in your life and the way you earn money is scary and risky. What if it doesn’t pay off? In the book “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” author Jen Sincero urges her readers to “feed fear a suck-it sandwich.” Are you scared of rejection? It’s bound to happen … dust yourself off, make necessary adjustments, and try again. Are you afraid of failure? You’re bound to have some failures along the way — prepare for them the best you can, and focus on rebounding quickly. Oftentimes, we get so wrapped up in imagining the worst possible consequence an convincing ourselves that the worst will happen, but the reality is that the worst-case scenario very rarely plays out.
4. Establish Your Support System. Even if you’re starting off solo, you should never be working in a silo when it comes to running a business. At the very least, you’ll need an accountant or financial advisor, an attorney, a mentor to bounce ideas off, and family and friends who believe in and support you. Ask successful people you know for mentor recommendations, or join a women’s business association such as the National Association of Business Owners (NAWBO) or the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) for professional support and resources.