Have you had enough of working for other people? Are you thinking about giving up your day job to start a business? Do you dream of creating something that you can take real ownership and pride in?
Congratulations, you just may have what it takes to start your own lifestyle business!
But successful businesses don’t get built with ideas alone.
You need to nurture your start up idea with the right actions, commitment, drive, inspiration and a good dose of luck.
These are all things I wish someone had told me when I was starting out because I could have saved myself a lot of time and heartache. I didn’t have a grand plan before I started or much awareness about what was required to start up in business.
I was carried along by my enthusiasm and excitement.
It worked out for me in the end but I could have cut short my learning curve if someone had given me some sage advice beforehand. To help you turn your dreams into reality, here are 6 things every woman should consider when starting a business, especially an online one.
What You Should Know Before Starting A Business
1. Focus On Your Passion
When you decide to start your own business and share your talents with the world, remember: running your own business is work but it isn’t a job.
In a job, you exchange time for money in a pre-existing system. You are in a contract with your employer to perform certain tasks and provided you do what’s expected, you get paid at the end of the month.
But when you start your own business, there’s no such arrangement.
Everything comes down to you and your own efforts.
Your business doesn’t exist until you create it. And it can quickly cease to exist if you don’t know how to market yourself, find new customers and keep them.
You may open your doors today but it could be weeks, months or even years before you earn a cent.
This is a truth that many gurus won’t tell you.
They want you to think that if you buy their latest program or widget you can make money online in an instant.
Unfortunately, it rarely works like this.
Too many budding entrepreneurs get sucked into scams or have an unrealistic picture of how long it really takes to set up a profitable online business. That’s why they give up if riches don’t come pouring in thick and fast within a few short weeks.
But when you base your business on something you’re passionate about rather than chasing get-rich-quick schemes you give yourself a chance at long-term success.
Passion can help every female entrepreneur succeed because it enables you to translate your brilliance into a business idea and stick at it long enough to turn your start up into a profitable venture.
Instead of being another bland face in the marketplace, you start to stand for something. You distinguish yourself from others though your innate expertise. You have an enthusiasm for your work and serving others which naturally draws customers to you.
So always, always start with your passion.
2. Get Comfortable With Risk
There is no safety net when you set off down the road less traveled. There is no road map.
Even if you follow someone’s blueprint for your business, your journey will be entirely different because no two people are ever exactly alike.
You have followed a specific trajectory to get to where you are today.
Along the way, you have amassed certain experiences, knowledge and ideas that shape the person you are.
This is what makes you truly unique.
But you won’t know the value of all this experience until you have some skin in the game. You won’t know what you’re truly capable of until and unless you take a few risks.
Instead of playing it safe, why not aim high? Why not make a commitment to do whatever it takes to succeed with your business?
Taking risks doesn’t mean putting your livelihood or personal safety on the line.
Quite often the risks are about the way you think, feel and act.
It could mean finding the courage to really follow your heart; or throwing your original business idea overboard for one that is more authentically you; or taking a bridge job to keep going with a business that can’t support you yet.
Whatever it might be for you, starting a business is inextricably linked with risk so get comfortable.
By breaking away from the norm, you are investing in an altered destiny and giving yourself the chance to discover your true purpose and actualizing what you were intended to achieve in life.
Only you can get yourself there.
Business is a bumpy, hazardous road, but you can ride it. Own the risks and trust yourself.
3. Learn To Deal With Criticism
Sadly, too many people love nothing more than to tear others down.
Just like bullies on the playground, they criticize others because they’re self-conscious.
They resent themselves for not having the courage to strike out on their own and instead of taking responsibility for their mediocrity, they make you the target of their doubts and insecurities.
There will always be people who don’t understand why you do what you do, who disagree with how you do it, and who dislike what you stand for and what you have to offer.
You can consider their opinions if you want – some of them may even be good and valid points. Just be mindful of the emotion and intent behind their words.
Some people will never “get” you because that’s who they are. It’s just not in their character.
It’s sad and it hurts, especially if it’s a friend or family member doing the criticizing.
But if you’re not ruffling a few feathers here and there, chances are you aren’t making a big enough impact with your business or differentiating yourself!
That’s why starting a business is never the easy option or for the faint-hearted.
You must have the courage of your convictions and develop a thick skin and the mental strength to forge ahead regardless of any criticism.
Let the dream in your heart pull you forward.
Remember, it’s not possible to harbor any ideas that you aren’t capable of achieving. You have everything within you to succeed.
Once you begin to execute your ideas, you will start to attract the early adopters and slowly win the approval of the masses. Who knows, you may even convert some of your critics.
4. Be Open To Learning
They say that knowledge is power.
But this is only true only if you use it to expand your understanding and develop your business.
In most jobs, you can’t freely innovate or act on new information. You have to get permission from your boss first.
It’s entirely different when you’re starting a business.
When the shackles are off you suddenly find yourself in a position where you are responsible for every business decision you make, large and small.
This can be both exciting and daunting at the same time.
My advice to you is to take it one step at a time.
Embrace the fact that from now on you will be learning on a daily basis. Some things will come easily, others you will have to work at.
As a perfectionist, this was a very hard lesson for me.
I treated online marketing like a job and expected to know everything within 6 months. Imagine my frustration when I reached this point and still felt like a newbie!
Although much of marketing is timeless, the process of communicating your message and reaching new customers evolves over time.
Today you might be blogging, but tomorrow you could be holding webinars or Google Hangouts.
Of course, you can’t master everything.
But you must be willing to learn as you go along and keep up with current trends if you want to reach your audience.
The more you educate yourself about your business the better equipped you are to provide the best possible products and services to your customers.
Remember, you are the CEO of your business. It’s your job description to be the most knowledgeable person about your business.
So make it a personal mission to constantly increase your expertise.
There will always be people out there who know more than you, but they’re not your competition. You are your competition.
Outdo yourself by always knowing more than you did yesterday.
5. Choose Whom You Spend Time With
There is a beautiful Sanskrit word called satsang that is derived from “sat” meaning true and “sang” meaning company.
Although not a precise translation, satsang refers to the importance of keeping company with people who are enlightened.
You can take “enlightened” as literally as you want.
For me, it’s a reminder for every entrepreneur to be mindful of the company they keep.
However, it’s more than you think.
Surrounding yourself with negative people affects your way of thinking, your self esteem, and even your decision-making.
It’s especially true when you are starting a business because it takes up a huge portion of your time.
Nights and weekends that would normally be free time from most jobs are dedicated to advancing your business.
With that in mind, who would you rather spend your time with?
Defeatists, critics, complainers and doubters who rob you of your energy and vision? Or people you trust and admire, whom you can learn from and who understand what you’re building and why?
Many women entrepreneurs struggle with this issue.
It’s not easy to tell people you used to spend time with that you are no longer on the same wavelength. I can relate because I believe it’s important to be kind and help others.
But this got me into all kinds of trouble in the past because I found it hard to say no to others.
I had to learn to set boundaries and be firm with people. That’s why I advise you to help others where you can but do not allow negative and lazy friends and colleagues drain you of your time, ideas and energy.
Find an elegant way to distance yourself and focus on your business.
6. Don’t Neglect Yourself
Starting a business is a big commitment.
Besides holding down your day job and supporting yourself and your family, you are dedicating yourself to a vision that can change your life and the lives of those around you.
That’s a huge responsibility.
It can sometimes be too easy when you’re building a business to neglect your own needs and wants.
Gradually you stop going to yoga even though you know you should. Twice weekly sessions drop to once a week and then stop altogether.
You’re too tired to read the books you used to love so you flop in front of the TV instead.
When friends call inviting you for a night out you tell them you’re busy working on your product launch.
Whereas once you loved to cook fresh meals after work, you start reaching for fast food and ordering takeaways more and more.
Although self-neglect affects everyone from time to time, if it becomes your new routine, it is not OK.
Your business is an extension of you. You are a requirement for its growth, success and stability. Your health, happiness and well-being are therefore critical.
Take a break. Get some fresh air. Step away from the computer.
Above all, relax and enjoy the journey.
Your business will benefit as much as you will.
Over To You
Are you a woman entrepreneur thinking about starting a business? Or are you already an established business owner? What advice would you give anyone starting up today?