Welcome to the world of entrepreneurship! You’re making a choice to start your own business and be your own boss. Maybe you’re seeking a lifestyle change in which you want to work from home and be with your children. Or perhaps you’re already a stay-at-home mom and you’re looking to spin some extra income.
Or maybe you just feel, as I heard Dr. Wayne Dyer (The Power of Intention; Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life) say in a recent lecture: “You’ll never be truly free if you work for someone else.”
Apparently many women are thinking along the same lines. According to SCORE, the Counselors to America’s Small Business, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. has doubled since 1987. And nearly 85% of those businesses are sole proprietorships. So more and more women are taking the entrepreneurial leap and doing it on their own. But opening the doors of a new business is still a scary thing. “Everyone has big fears of starting new things, even people you may consider the ‘pros,'” says Pamela Slim, a mother of two, whose blog, www.EscapeFromCubicleNation.com is required reading for new entrepreneurs. “So check your perfectionism at the door and just get moving with little things.”
Problem is, there are a million little things to do and even more decisions going along with each one. How to proceed? This column is going to take you along the road and help you make the decisions that will get you moving. We’ll start this month with the biggie–money– because that nagging thought is there, “Can I really make money at this?” I’ll show you how to figure that out.
Looking Around the Playground
New entrepreneurs often make the mistake of seeing if other people make money without understanding HOW those others are making their money. They jump into real estate investing or Internet marketing or personal coaching because they see that others have been quite successful in those fields. But the newbie doesn’t dig deeper to see the techniques and the thinking behind the success. Let’s take personal coaching, for instance. Can you make money doing it? Yes, but you should also know that: Coaches who specialize make more than generalists.
Successful coaches have powerful marketing systems in place, often built over many months or years than involve writing, speaking or networking to build their businesses. This doesn’t mean you can’t do the same, but it also means that you can’t just be at home and expect clients to find you. You have to actively put yourself out there.
Here’s where you can dig deeper to assess your potential business.
Do You Have the Stomach For This?
Yes, you have to assess yourself first! That’s because you and your attitude will greatly affect how much you can make. I’ve seen many a businesswoman held back mostly by her insecurities about her own self-worth. Such insecurities can keep you from really putting yourself out there by setting up a website, speaking in public or writing a newsletter. What will your business require and are you willing to step up to the plate?
Insecurities can also keep you from charging what you’re worth–a definite threat to your bottom line. Small business expert Kendall SummerHawk, author of the How to Charge What You’re Worth and Get It program, suggests you take a playful approach. “You’ll never know if your price is too high until you test it,” she says. “I know that can sound like a scary concept but one thing I can guarantee is that when you raise your fees you also create a new space for yourself to step into. We’ve all heard that nature abhors a vacuum and will seek to fill it. In this case, the vacuum you will create by raising your fees will be filled with a new level of confidence and clarity about your own self-worth and your value to your clients!”
One more point to consider: are you going into business doing something you love, such as baking pies or making quilts? Would you still love it if you were doing it day in and day out for months on end? And if you were able to successfully delegate the making of products, would you be able to trust others to create a level of quality that’s acceptable to you?
Are You Selling What People Want?
Always remember this: people buy what they want, not what they need. Is what you’re selling a want or a need? This thinking will allow you to be more successful even in slow economic times, because most people have one thing that they’re always willing to blow money on. For some it’s golf. For others, collectibles. How can you find out if your product or service is one of these? You can use search engine tools such as those found at www.Overture.com to see if people are searching the internet for your particular product or service. For example, you can find out how many times people searched the terms “homemade quilts for sale” or “how to lower my golf handicap” in any given month. You can also then put those terms into Google or Yahoo and see what businesses come up. That way you can assess your competition as well!
What’s My Investment?
Making money means bringing in enough dollars so there’s something left over after your business expenses each month. So you must know what you will need to run your business and how much it will cost. Think about supplies, website hosting, business cards, travel, outside vendors, bank fees. “Did you really ever think about how much paper clips or manila folders cost?” says Pamela Slim. “How about a desk, no-glare monitor or printer toner? All of a sudden you will become aware of all the ‘hidden’ expenses when you have to do it all yourself.” Keep in mind that these expenses will change as your business grows. You might take on an assistant or hire out some of the work you started out doing on your own. It helps to look down the road at where you business might be in 6 or 7 years so you can properly prepare.
That should be enough to get you going. Once you’ve done all this research, you’ll have the answers you need to move forward in your business with confidence. And I think you’ll find that, both now and in the future, confidence will be your most valuable asset.
Sophfronia Scott is executive editor of The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. After 15 years at Time Inc., she left the corporate world to start her own business helping aspiring authors to write and publish their first books. You can learn more about her work at www.TheBookSistah.com.