Strategies for Successful Female Entrepreneurship
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Every day, approximately 850 new businesses are started by American women. In fact, there are approximately 114% more US female entrepreneurs than there were twenty years ago. If a life of entrepreneurship also sounds exciting to you, consider this advice when venturing into business for yourself.
It Will Never Be Perfect, Just Start
I had the idea to start Spread Your Sunshine at the beginning of 2017. By April, I had purchased the domain, created the logo, and registered with Florida’s Division of Corporations, but accomplished relatively little else. Around that time, I learned that a few months later, I would be featured in two publications distributed internationally. Struggling with whether to mention Spread Your Sunshine in the pre-article interviews, I called my Business Coach to discuss my dilemma. I explained, “If Spread Your Sunshine is not mentioned, it is a significant lost opportunity. But, it does not seem possible to have the project fully ready in the few short weeks between the interviews and the publication dates.” Not missing a beat, my Coach responded with one of the best pieces of business advice I have ever received, “Just do enough to not look crazy.” She suggested building a “coming soon” welcome message on the home page of Spread Your Sunshine’s website, creating social media handles, and inviting my friends to follow my new project. She concluded by saying, “You can accomplish these tasks before the publications are distributed and Spread Your Sunshine will look legitimate if someone Googles the project.”
This advice was immediately put into action. As suggested, over the next few weeks, I softly launched Spread Your Sunshine by building a “coming soon” website home page, creating our social media handles, and inviting friends to join our community. From there, the summer would be used to create the project’s substantive materials. In September, my birth month, I would officially launch the project by hosting a big party. The problem? Nothing went according to plan after the soft launch. Instead, my Grandpa, who was like my Dad my whole life, called in June to tell me he had terminal cancer. In July, he passed. That summer and fall, my then “day job” became increasingly stressful with IT, administrative and client challenges not previously experienced. In November, my husband and I learned that we had received an adoption match. While this was joyous news, Maverick was born approximately two weeks later, leaving almost no time to prepare or transition my work to take maternity leave. In January, I discovered the death of one of my good friends the same week she was supposed to start nannying for Maverick. And, the IT, administrative and client challenges kept coming at my day job. In the end, as I have often joked, for almost two years, I barely had time to breathe let alone blog.
So, what happened with Spread Your Sunshine? After the initial soft launch, from a technical perspective, nothing. For twenty-two months, the website homepage boasting that it was “coming soon” never changed. No articles were written, no videos were recorded, and nothing else was seemingly done to further my goal of instilling women with the confidence to overcome their fear of failure and achieve their dreams. Or, was everything done? Viewed from a different perspective, while nothing I had planned to do was accomplished, simply putting the Spread Your Sunshine concept into the world and beginning to talk about it through social media and hashtags started a movement. People loved the Spread Your Sunshine message of mentorship, diversity and inclusion, and positivity and started following and supporting it even if they (heck, I!) did not yet know what Spread Your Sunshine would become.
This experience taught me the awesomeness of imperfection and value of imperfectly starting something new. Had you told me when I started Spread Your Sunshine that I would rawly share it with the world, being vulnerably exposed while completing nothing I had planned for twenty-two months, I never would have done it. But, if things had gone according to plan, I am quite certain you would not be reading this article. More likely, and as addressed next, the things I wanted to do before officially launching Spread Your Sunshine when working under a perfectionist mindset would not yet be complete, meaning the project would not yet be launched and the past three years of building my dream and helping my community lost.
The point is that nothing is ever “ready.” Projects are fluid and evolve over time as the marketplace changes and feedback is received from customers and your community. As previously discussed in Top Tips for Growing a Lasting Business Brand, this is a good thing. The only way to build something that others truly love is to involve them in it. So, if you have an idea for your business that is not yet perfect, don’t wait, put it into action. No one who should matter to you will care if it changes, morphs, becomes something completely different, or never goes anywhere. The worst that can happen is happily living your life without the regret of not having pursued your dream. The best that can happen is that your imperfect project grows into something wildly successful. Either way, you win. So, go for it!
Everything Takes Longer Than Anticipated
Another hard truth of entrepreneurship is that every project takes longer to complete than originally anticipated. Returning to the launch of Spread Your Sunshine, even if life had gone according to plan, it is unrealistic that everything I wanted to accomplish to launch the project could have been completed during the summer of 2017 as hoped. Likewise, since then, projects that I thought would take days took weeks, weeks took years. So, plan for unexpected delays by building flexibility into your timeline. One fellow female entrepreneur shared that for this reason, she never announces a product launch date until having the completed product in hand, as prior to then, it is impossible to know what unexpected delays will occur.
This also highlights the frequently quoted adage, “business is a marathon, not a sprint.” More than likely, success will be achieved over the long-term, not immediately. So, do not compare where you are to the accomplishments of others who have been in business longer than you. Focus on building your business one step at a time, periodically looking back to appreciate the milestones you have achieved.
Connect with the Right Mentors & Resources
Prior to monetizing Spread Your Sunshine, I practiced law full-time for twelve years. While my legal mentors were great at helping me build a successful law practice, they knew very little about my new work, including how to finance it, a problem for many female entrepreneurs. Successfully transitioning to Spread Your Sunshine therefore required connecting with an additional set of mentors who had experience facing the challenges ahead of me. It also required further educating myself through entrepreneurial podcasts, YouTube videos, books, resources, and tools like myfxbook that allowed me to learn more about my new industry. So, before opening your own business, have a game plan for acquiring the skills not yet in your toolbox. The right education will make a critical difference in your success.
Have a Back-Up Plan to Your Back-Up Plan
One of Spread Your Sunshine’s Team members once commented that she enjoyed working with me because in stressful situations, I remained calm and always had Plans B, C, D and E ready to execute if Plan A did not work out. Prior to her comment, I had not fully appreciated the superpower of flexibility. Looking back, however, she was right – having contingency plan upon contingency plan has attributed to Spread Your Sunshine’s longevity. As stated herein, nothing in entrepreneurship goes according to plan. So, embrace the chaos associated with owning your own business and be ready for it. Every day is exciting.
Final Thoughts for the Road to Entrepreneurship
Hey you! Yes, YOU. The fabulously talented and specially skilled trail blazer reading this article. You are positively wonderful and uniquely positioned to bring your business into this world. So, believe in yourself like the Spread Your Sunshine community believes in you and you will be well on your way to achieving the entrepreneurial success of your dreams.
Hopefully the ideas herein help you start your own business. But, we know you have additional tips to help empower the Spread Your Sunshine community, too. Share your advice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or messaging Spread Your Sunshine on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter. We love hearing from you, as together, we perform our best.
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