Seven Things Aspiring Entrepreneurs Should Know
It’s no secret that women in business put up with a lot. From not being taken seriously, to being objectified, to even losing out on business opportunities due to their gender, the workplace is not always feminine-friendly. However, with the cultural shift the U.S. is experiencing right now, this time is crucial for women to take a step forward and be entrepreneurs, if that’s something they desire. The things we do today will shape our tomorrows, and this era has the power to propel a normalization of businesswomen.
This is especially important because entrepreneurs are the backbone of the U.S. economy. Although it’s tough for a lot of people to define what “American” is, the ability to start something yourself is a beloved factor of the ethos we’ve traditionally held dear. If you’re looking at starting your own business or that’s something you aspire to, here are some words of advice and encouragement to get you started:
Decision Is Key
Several years ago, actor Shia Labeouf was featured in a viral internet video where he was flexing downward in front of a green screen screaming “just do it,” encouraging viewers (or someone behind the camera maybe? The video was quite confusing) to follow their dreams and not wait for time to line up for them. Although the video was, frankly, pretty hard to take seriously, Mr. Even Stevens has a point — to do something, you have to make the choice to do it, and you can’t procrastinate.
Now obviously, a lot goes into starting your own business. You’re not going to be able to start one overnight — but you can start the processes of starting one now. Creating your business plan, doing market research, figuring out how much money you need, how you might manufacture and distribute your product, planning your funding, and coming up with names are all possible. Start prepping now, though; don’t put it off, and stay on the ball. Learn how to make this dream of yours a reality, and execute your plan accordingly.
Seek After Motivation
It’s a difficult task getting motivated some days — especially when you have other things going on in life and you’re in charge of the ship of a blossoming business. But of course, productivity is necessary if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, because it’s what gets you off the ground. Otherwise, your business will fail or stay a plan you never followed through on. Different things push people to productivity, but there are some threads among people that commonly inspire them and bring creativity.
Ms. Career Girl actually wrote about some of them here, noting specifically that some people’s creativity is inspired by others’ creativity. For instance, books, inspirational movies, and Ted Talks are all listed in the Ms. Career Girl article. Additionally, marketing company Timmerman Group shared an article detailing their employees’ favorite working music last year, which is full of various great suggestions. Watching or listening to other people get so much out of their drive and seeing how they enjoy the journey can help you do the same. Additionally, staying productive in other ways may help some to live more productive lives habitually. Others, not so much.
Side Hustles Are Okay
A lot of people nowadays have second jobs because their normal jobs don’t pay enough. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll need these if you start your own business, at least for a few years while you’re getting your feet set on solid ground. Know there’s nothing wrong with that, and that a lot of millennials have side hustles!
Side hustles are second jobs essentially, or other forms of income. This comes in many forms — some people sell Scentsy, while others work in an office. However, this can give you the freedom to grow your own business organically without quitting when the money doesn’t come in like you hope. It’s something most of us do that has huge benefits while we’re starting out!
Legalities Are Not Meant to Be Put Off
It can be easy while you’re not making much money to put the legalities of your business off. For instance, why set yourself up to pay taxes if there’s hardly any income to report? My friend, success can come like a thief in the night, and you better be prepared for it. Furthermore, when business starts to pick up, you may be pressed for time to get these things in order.
Small business taxes are a beast of their own, so it’s wise to do your homework before getting them set up. Before you do any of that though, make sure to register what you’re doing with the government. Whether you get an LLC, a sole proprietorship or another form of registration, ensure that you have it taken care of so the government knows how to tax you. Also, if this sounds completely dreadful, remember that startup costs and certain materials and services costs can be written off on your taxes, and you may even get some money back at the end of the day.
These Are Socially Conscious Times
Now, if you’re reading Ms. Career Girl, you’re most likely a woman. And you know that being a woman in the workplace can be hard. Did you know that venture capital investors are much more likely to invest in men than in women? You probably do if you’re an entrepreneur and have had to seek funding before.
Therefore, don’t discriminate, and be conscious not to do so! These are socially conscious times, and it’s important to use that to your advantage of working with people commonly missed out on. Fellow women, people of color, and those in the LGBTQ+ community are also discriminated against, so a time like the one we live in today is a chance to change things. But you need to be somewhat conscious to do so most effectively.
Target Market Research Is of the Utmost Importance
A target audience changes its opinions and tastes over time in just about any market. Going through these seasons with them — having fidelity with your market, in a way — is what will keep you afloat. You can’t adapt if you don’t know what’s going on. Frankly, a lot of businesses go wrong here and don’t end up lasting.
So do the proper target market analysis. Do whatever surveys you have to do; analyze traffic and social media trends and the like. But of course, also get your hands a bit dirty and do some ground work — that is, discover what the people you’re trying to sell to enjoy or respond to and adapt to it. This can be done by asking them directly and being involved on social media.
Starting Your Own Business is Hard to Do Alone
You probably have a somewhat clear vision of what you want to do as an entrepreneur. That’s good, and that’s important, because it’s what builds brands up to become strong fortresses. But let’s be honest: Running a business is hard to do alone. There’s so much that goes into it from the conception to that first moment a customer purchases from you, that at any hoped for growth you may find yourself wondering “how do I manage all of this?”
Well first of all, think about whether or not you want funding or a business loan. They’re scary things, but it helps to start with some capital. Second, seek advice from experts about your endeavor and how to make it successful. Listen to them, because it’s what will keep you afloat. Third, when you’re able, hire employees and don’t be afraid to let them take control over their own jobs. Let them own their work so they’re as proud of the results as you want to be. Doing things alone is rough, but with the right people involved, you may find yourself growing to unimaginable heights.
Have you started a business? What was your experience? What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs? Let us know in the comments below!
This guest post was authored by Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer, mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader. And then dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons, without getting groans and eye rolls in response.