What is the number one thing to think about when starting a business?
What value are you bringing to the world?
The world is littered with businesses – some of which fail, some of which succeed. Spoiler alert: more fail than succeed. Particularly in crowded spaces (like blogging), before starting your business, ask yourself:
What am I going to do that is new / better / different to stand out? What am I going to do to differentiate myself from all the others out there?
Why does the world need your business idea? Think about this long and hard. The secret to succeeding isn’t doing what everyone else is. The key is to do something better or different from everyone else. And make sure there is demand for it. Make sure people want what you’re selling!
What is the best advice you can give a woman who is looking to start her own business?
1. You have to do the work.
I know, I know… that’s not flashy or “sexy” so to speak. But the truth is – you gotta be willing to do the work! That’s all there is to it. Believe in yourself and your business passionately – and then be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
What is the saying? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” they say. Well, the road to business failure is also paved with good intentions, I’d venture to say. It’s not enough to just want to be successful. It’s not enough to just have great ideas. You have to execute on those ideas!
It’s not always glamorous. But you have to be willing to dig in, get your hands dirty, put in the hours, and do the work.
Can I give you a second piece of advice? Okay – thanks for indulging me. Here goes…
2. Know your numbers!
I don’t care whether your business is creative or artist in nature, you still need to know your numbers! At the end of the day, we are all in business to make money. Hopefully, we turn around and use that money to better our lives and the lives of others. But quite bluntly, we have to make money to stay in business, right?
So you have to know your numbers! Website traffic, revenue, expenses, margins, profit, etc.
Are you familiar with the idea of SMART goal setting? SMART is a mnemonic acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based. So, if your goal setting is supposed to be specific and measurable, then you better know how to measure your results!
Oh heck – let’s just go for a third piece of advice, shall we?
3. Surround yourself with a great team!
I can’t emphasize this enough. There is only so much of you to go around. Your time is finite. Besides that, your skills – however great they may be – are also limited. You aren’t great at everything! Sorry if that is news to you. Ha.
Really, though, investing in a great team is the best investment you can make in your business, when the time is right.
When you do hire, choose wisely! Choose people whose skill sets are complementary to yours. You don’t need another you! You need someone to fill in the skills gaps.
When you were working in the corporate world in a very male-dominated industry, did you ever feel insecure or self-conscious? Any advice for how to handle these feelings in my career?
Good question! Goodness – could my world have been any more male-dominated? Oil & gas engineering. Quite often, when I would be in the board room or in a meeting, I would be the only female.
Now, I have to say, though, I somewhat was used to it. Not that the absence of females in corporate leadership roles is acceptable, but I’m just saying that it was something I had encountered all through my life. When I was in high school, I worked at the local golf course in the pro shop. The vast majority of the golfers were male. When I was in college, I studied petroleum engineering. Again, the vast majority of my colleagues were male. When I interned during college, one summer, I worked out in the actual oilfield. In that case, no doubt all my co-workers were male! So, by the time I graduated from college and entered the work force, I was more or less used to it.
One thing that I did early on: try to blend in. Literally and figuratively. And I have seen many women take this approach. It’s the mindset that, in order to succeed, I need to act and look and be like those in positions of power. That plays itself out in many ways – how women dress in the workplace, how we talk in meetings, how we behave amongst our coworkers, and so on and so forth.
But eventually, I gained enough confidence to just be myself – and that was so freeing. As with any scenario in life, when you aren’t being authentic, it can be exhausting. So, yes, I started wearing more colorful stylish clothes (yet still work appropriate of course) to my conservative, neutral-loving work environment. And I started being myself personality wise.
The great thing is that when you are living authentically people will naturally gravitate towards you and what you’re doing!