Starting your own business is a challenge- it's not easy and one that comes with tearing out your hair mistakes and worthwhile accomplishments. It's not for the lazy that want to sit at home on their butts, it's a full time commitment. For all the lady bosses out there here are my tips on things you should know before you start your own business.
Have a Business Plan
Whether you've been considering your business for a while or it came to you over night, make sure to write down your plan. The way of this world unfortunately is this- there’s almost never a “right time” to start a business, It's risky, but with great rewards. It is good to develop a business plan while you’re feeling motivated. My suggestion is to write it down even a simple one is okay, later type it up and correct grammatical errors. This doesn’t always have to be a perfectly mapped out business plan, as many things in your business will evolve along the way—especially in the beginning. I remember changing my logo at least 20 times before I designed my perfect one. Or changing the design and layout of my website before I thought it was perfect. Try not to spend so much time preparing- so much so, that you never get started. Take some time to map out your business blueprint. What kind of business is it going to be? What will you sell? Who will buy it? Does your business solve a problem? What will your retail prices be? Where will you sell it? What will your wholesale prices be? What is your niche? How will people find out about your business? What lines will your products "hang out" with? What are your three main goals you’d like to achieve in the first year? What’s your company motto? Do you have a website and the proper social media accounts secured before launching? Will your business be online or brick and mortar? Asking yourself these preliminary questions will help you to get a solid foundation going to start your business. From there, you will continue to grow.
Money, Costing, Pricing
There are countless number of failures in staring up your own business from mismanaging finances. This tip is important: Organize your finances and set a budget before kicking things off. Will you have a personal or business loan or a sum of capital to work with right from the start? How much is your start up capital? How much is the costing and pricing? What price will the market bear? Are you being competitive? How will you finance- Investors, crowd funding, self-funding, PO Funding, or friends and family? How much do you predict you will you be earning? How much will you pay yourself? Will you need to hire employees, and if so, how much will you pay them? Will you have an office space? How much will you pay for overhead? The most basic rule of thumb to keep in mind when setting a budget is this: Never have more money going out than coming in.
Put together a schedule. Being a Lady boss means working overtime, after-hours and on weekends, it’s important to set office hours for yourself so that you can maintain a good balance between your personal life and work. Put together a schedule for yourself (and for any employees, assistants or interns you plan to hire) is a great way to set parameters. You don’t want to go too far with the whole “startup mentality” because the minute your work starts eating into your personal time, you will start to feel burnt out. So, set a schedule, especially one for yourself, and try to stick to it. You can start with a basic Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.
Partnerships and Members
Typically, most entrepreneurs don’t start their businesses alone, so it’s important to know you can depend on the others involved and make sure you’re on the same page. I highly recommend blocking out an entire day to have a business meeting with your partners at the beginning of your business venture to discuss the overall picture, among your roles, responsibilities, goals, and plans for 1 year out, 3 years out, and 5 years out. Be sure to take notes and keep these documents easily accessible to reference, and never sign anything without reading it first. This makes it easy to go back to your original ideas and make changes when they evolve. And, to avoid any issues or misunderstanding with your partners, I recommend having regular check in meetings and reviewing the goals at hand to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Make the effort to network. Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice. I love supporting my friends in their businesses and I am always happy to share advice and what I’ve learned along the way. Building your network is an important factor to starting your own business, and it’s also a great way to begin developing a community of other women who can support you and give you advice (and, you can do the same for them too). Plus, if you’re starting up your own gig all on your own without partners, scheduling coffee dates and lunch meetings are great ways to socialize during the day with like-minded business owners.
And there you have it! Like I’ve mentioned before, keep in mind that starting a business won’t be a walk in the park. You will have times of challenge and stress, and you might even have times you’ve wondered why you did it in the first place. But don’t let those negative feelings get the best of you. If you’re really focusing on doing something you’re passionate about, you are guaranteed to have more victories than challenges. If you choose to do something you love, every bump in the road will be worth it.
If you’ve started your own business, do you have any tips to add to this list?
What additional advice do you have for starting a business?
With love, Millie Hernandez