Originally published on www.upstateclutch.com
My first thought when asked to give my perspective on being a female business owner was “How do I do this without sounding like the results of a motivational Pinterest search?” And what’s more, I could write for days on the topic! I struggled to narrow down the most relevant, meaningful advice. I’m new to owning a business—in fact, despite the fact that I’m writing this in my shop, it doesn’t always seem real to me. But, I think I’ve honed in on a several practical points that mean the most to me, and I hope they’ll inspire and encourage you, as well.
1) Know what you’re getting into:
We’ll start with the boring part. But it’s important! Your business is so much more than your idea. Make a business plan. Is it financially feasible for you to start your dream business? What is your plan for success? What does your business provide that others in the area do not? Female entrepreneurs are the fastest growing segment of business owners in the US right now, but our businesses tend to fail at a higher rate and generate less revenue. You should be realistic, smart, and prepared. The more you have set out in the beginning, the better your chances of success later!
It’s a real pain, but you must consider the essentials: business filing fees, licenses, rent or mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, inventory, advertising, whether to hire employees, association fees and dues, etc. Let’s be real. It’s a lot. Luckily, there are plenty of valuable resources out there. I found the US Small Business Association’s website (www.sba.gov) tremendously helpful when I was starting out.
2) Perfect is the enemy of done:
My best friend and I have a self-deprecating (kind of) mantra: “Everything perfect, all the time.” Pretty much everyone who has ever met me knows I’m a perfectionist. (Don’t even ask me about letting go of this article.) As women, many of us are. But that doesn’t always help us in starting a business or engendering its success.
If I waited until everything about my business and shop was perfect, I’d still be sitting in my house. Launching and making progress in a business isn’t always about making something the best, it’s about getting it out the door. You can tweak from there. Now, I certainly wouldn’t endorse sloppy work, but there is only so long you can hold on to something before you’re holding yourself back. Momentum toward your goal is what’s important. And in reality, you learn that there is no end or final stage to anything in your business. It’s constantly evolving, and that’s a good thing!
3) Get out there:
I get tired even thinking about this. Network, network, network! Think of it as free advertising. You don’t have to spend much money to meet people. And the more people you meet in your community, the more people know about your business. Go to everything—community events, fundraisers, parties, church, play dates, book clubs, volunteer opportunities—whatever it is in your area that works. But, I will provide this caveat: You have to cultivate genuine relationships. Be authentic, be interested, and be kind.
4) Lastly, and probably most importantly:
You are your business.
As women, wives, and mothers, this one can be difficult. You absolutely have to take care of yourself. We burn the candle at both ends. We run carpool, we cook, we clean, we deal in boogers and feces, we tuck in, and then we do more. But an exhausted crazy lady can’t do the best for her family, and she can’t do the best for her business, either. Believe me, I’ve been there. Many times. In order for your business to succeed and grow, you have to be focused, determined, and you have to put your best “you” forward.
Do what you can to get rid of stressors in your life. Simplify as best possible. You can add things back in later, if you feel comfortable. Try to eat healthily. Get enough sleep. I’m a 9 hour person, myself, so that means I have to economize or back off in other areas. (I currently have a laundry mountain half as tall as I am at my house). Try to exercise if you can. Even short walks help clear your mind and recharge you so you can get back at it.
You are the foundation on which your business is built. Try to make it as solid as you can. You owe it to your business, but more importantly, to your self.
I know this is a lot. But starting a business is no small feat, especially as a woman. It can mean a lot of work, but it can also give you tremendous freedom and opportunity—to spend more time with your family, to travel for research, and to meet interesting, engaging people, for example. One final tidbit: Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help. And once you’re on your game, give it freely to other newbies. If you ever have questions for me, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!