Good for you! Congratulations! (sorry, no balloons and confetti, that’s for Facebook)
However, too many of us take that first step, and a second, and then hesitate. We gulp out loud and wonder, “Where do I go from here?”
I’m going to help today. I’m going to mentor you in this post, offering 9 Smart Steps Forward for Entrepreneurial Women everywhere.
1) Build Your Confidence to a Higher Level
I know women who have hidden behind their big idea. They’ve created such beautiful products, designed amazing things, and solved great problems, but when it came time to build on those innovations by standing in front of people to talk about them, they turned away and gave up.
If this is holding you back - the worry that you can’t speak well in public, there is an easy solution.
Watch this video I recently did with my daughter, Chloe DiVita. We’re talking about this very issue.
Speaking in public becomes a performance issue, not a ‘sound of my voice’ issue, which some of us make it. Learning how to become that colorful, awesome public speaker starts with how you “embrace your presence” as my daughter says.
2) Only Sell to People Who Want to Buy
I know that’s easier said than done. But, if you do not determine your target market now - I prefer calling it a goal market, as in, your goal is to have such great offers, the people will delight over them and buy them - you will have a hard time of it, going forward.
When we started our publishing business, our focus was business books, primarily by women. Several fiction authors approached us to help them with their books, but we declined. Fiction was not our market.
We sold to entrepreneurs and other small business professionals. The folks buying fiction were not going to buy it from us.
So, maybe your job is to determine who you aren’t selling to. Make sure you understand both - the who you are selling to and the who you are not selling to.
3) Make Your Big Idea Official
This might mean obtaining a DBA . It might mean starting a website. It probably means both. In order to be a business professional, you must have an actual business.
Many women entrepreneurs start with business cards. That’s an official decision, for sure. You have, at that point, chosen a name for your business and you have some way for people to contact you.
Your business card and your website and any other means of marketing yourself also requires a design.
Yes, you must choose things like colors, images, fonts, layout, and all the little nuances of standing out in a crowd.
4) Work With a Professional Designer
I urge you to work with someone who knows design. Often, even if you’re a designer, you need to at least work with another professional to make sure you’re not ‘blind’ to your faults.
Designers don’t have to cost a lot of money. My friends tell me fiverr works well. I haven’t used it so I’m merely passing along second-hand information.
I hired another small business owner to help me. We spent a good bit of time on colors and design and fonts. I trusted her advice - because I am not a designer! I am a writer.
5) Open a Bank Account
It’s best to have a separate bank account for your business.
Understand that when you sell something, services or products, and people pay you, you have now become a business owner. As such, you’re well-served to keep your business expenses separate from your living expenses.
This also requires the advice in #6 —-
6) Get a Bookkeeper
I do not do books. I mean, not the money books. The bookkeeping kind of books. Numbers and I do not get along. Oh, my husband can tell you stories of how I have ruined recipes or failed to get to an appointment on time, because I did not read the numbers correctly.
How much easier is it to pass your receipts and expenses and income, off to someone who knows how to manage them properly? Yes, using a tool like Quickbooks is a good idea. But, your bookkeeper is more of an expert in that (whether she or he uses that tool or another) than you will ever be!
Don’t fool around with this.
7) Brand Yourself
Branding is so much more than the colors you choose, or your logo, or your Facebook page.
Branding is how you present yourself (see #1), how you talk about your business, and most importantly, how your customers or clients talk about you. It needs to be part of your overall business plan.
In the old days of the 20th century, branding was done by someone in PR and marketing. It was an outward push to get folks acquainted with you and the products or services you represented.
In these wondrous days of the 21st century, branding is done by those who love you. It’s done by the online community of fans you develop. It’s done by making sure you serve those fans - the way Taylor Swift does.
Oh yes, she is the master of branding and relationship building today. Study her - the community that has grown up around her is worth millions. And it’s all because she listened when they talked, and she gave them what they wanted. Read this post by Christopher Ming and learn from it! (it’s long…but please, read through it all).
8) Watch Your Mouth!
Especially on social media. You will have a Facebook page, likely a Pinterest page, and an Instagram account, and perhaps a LinkedIn page. I won’t dictate which social channels you manage.
I just want you to make sure you do not mix politics with business. Unless you business is politics.
I suppose you could sell to just one political group, and not the others.
However, I believe you are building and creating and marketing products and services to people. Not people of one political persuasion or another. Maybe one gender, as I am, but don't ignore or insult the other gender. Personally, I think women and men work great together. My husband Tom (of Old Dog Learning) and I have been collaborating for almost our entire entrepreneurial existence.
Be selective with what you share, what you promote, what you say in your social media channels.
This does not mean you cannot have an opinion, and express it on your personal social channel. It does mean you should be selective in the language you use. Be inclusive.
9) Get Comfortable with Video
Few of us like making videos of ourselves. I am one of them. However, the world wants to not only hear you, but see you.
I promise that once you begin making videos (use the record button in Zoom and upload to YouTube, as I do…to keep it easy), you’ll become comfortable with the process and the outcome.
The video channel onYoutube will show you my evolution. I have good days and bad days. The good days are when I talk with someone else, another expert who can help you succeed in what you’re creating. The not so good days involve those times I just talk to the camera, as if I’m talking to you.
I am working on that part. It’s getting easier.
10) Oh yes, I have a BONUS Smart Step
Develop a schedule for your work. Build it around the lifestyle business you are developing. Make sure you are firm with your employee (you) but let the boss (you) keep an eye on the joy of the work, not the 'drudgery.'
This is part of time management training, which Robbi is all about. Go to her 30 Minute Solopreneur page on Facebook and learn how to manage your time effectively.
Understand that we all have the same amount of time to get things done. No one has more than 24 hours. And, within that 24 hours, we each of us have to determine our work schedule, our walk the dog schedule, our feed the kids schedule, our make dinner schedule, or whathaveyou.
I know it’s easy to say you’re going to work Mondays and Thursdays, and have the rest of the week to yourself. Or, you’ll work Mon|Wed|Fri and have the rest of the week to yourself.
It’s easy to say a lot of things.
The hard part, the part I want you to do is put it down in writing - in minute detail. Account for every hour of every day - until you have created a fully fleshed out schedule of your time.
Yes, you may be flexible and change it, switch this for that, or even start over after three weeks because you aren’t able to manage it the way you first developed it. Your business is always going to be an evolving idea. Evolve with it.
Do these steps. Give your new business a chance. Give yourself applause for even starting this venture.
And, know that there are LOT more steps to take, as you travel down this path of entrepreneurial success.
Tell us a little bit about you and which of the 9 Steps is hardest for you to do.