Every Monday morning you report to your desk, grateful for the predictable check but something inside is saying, “Is this really what I’m meant to be doing?” Many women are seeking more meaningful careers. In some cases, it’s not that they don’t love their day job, but there is a greater sense of fulfillment and freedom that’s missing.
It’s not easy to give up the weekend getaways to Cabo, shopping and dinners with friends, but if you don’t do something about pursuing your dream of owning your own business, you’ll always wonder, “What if?” I’m not suggesting that you walk in the office tomorrow and hand in two weeks’ notice, but there are some practical steps that you can take today to begin the transition from employee to entrepreneur.
Here’s how to start your own business:
Gather Your “Moving On” Money: Starting a venture of any size will require more capital than you think. Begin by paying off all of your short-term debts, including cars and credit cards. Get at least two months ahead on all household bills. You’ll need savings for your personal life, three to six months of cash to cover expenses and savings for the start-up cost related to the business.
Develop a Revenue model: The “model” essentially defines how the business will make money. Will you be a consultant that charges an hourly rate, a PR maven that puts clients on a monthly retainer, or a cupcake company that builds a business on catering contracts? There needs to be a process by which you can bring in sales, because if your idea isn’t generating any cash at all, it’s just an expensive hobby. Conduct research on similar businesses in your industry, search Google for articles that tell their story, and understand the systems they have in place that help them find and attract customers.
Identify Your Unique Value: Here is the hardest lesson that I learned my first year as an entrepreneur: building a business is not about you, it’s about serving an audience. If you can learn this lesson early, it will make the transition easy.
The secret sauce to a great business is solving a market need. Conduct phone interviews with potential clients, understand their most urgent pains and then figure out how what you offer can solve it. Don’t make the mistake of falling in love with your product or service. Get passionate about ways to solve the prospective client’s problems.
Find your first clients: I see a lot of business owners get caught up in the details – business cards, website design or asking questions like, “Should I name the company as MY NAME INC. or call it something else?” It’s more important to focus energy on the basics of what you need to bring in your first clients. This is the primary goal of any early phase business.
Begin by reaching out to your network and crafting an email or postcard announcing that you’re open for business and ask for referrals. Rachel Rodgers, an attorney for small business owners, used this method to start her virtual law firm.
Find someone to hold you accountable: Being in business can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Business owners that have peer or experienced mentors grow exponentially. That’s why we created Soul Circle. You need someone to hold you accountable for carving out time to make your vision come to life.
When you’re trying to make a big decision and there is no one to talk to but yourself, getting to a conclusion is a challenge. I highly recommend a business coach or mastermind group to help make the transition from employee to entrepreneur.
Remember that making a goal a reality starts by taking the first step. We’ve put together a checklist that can help you over the next few months with things you need to do before you quit your day job. I’m also excited to share that in May we are launching a special membership group for women that want to have a tribe of like minds and a mentor to help them achieve their goal and it’s open for registration now. If you’re ready to stop living life on the sidelines, learn more about Soul Circle.
What’s the biggest thing that will help you make the transition from employee to entrepreneur?