The 3 C’s To Start A Business
Starting one’s own business is among the most fulfilling journeys a woman can embark upon in her lifetime. There is no doubt that it is hard and that you will have to get comfortable with moments of uncertainty. But here’s the upside with that. When those moments of uncertainty occur, you are the one who has the power to turn it around.
Conversely, when working for someone else – you’ll still have those moments of uncertainty, but you aren’t in complete control of the outcome. There are other variables at play…your boss’ attitude towards your team, last quarter’s P&L, the vision shared by the Board of Directors…that will affect the outcome and influence your income. When you work for yourself, there is only one variable – YOU. You will have the power to pitch new clients. YOU possess the creativity and ability to outsmart the competition with your offerings. YOU will limit your success only by your imagination. That’s what’s so great about being an entrepreneur. No one will take better care of you than YOU.
So. You have an idea. You’re ready to get started. What’s next?
It may seem obvious, but it’s the hardest commodity to come by. Courage is key to a successful career as an entrepreneur. Courage is a sense of fearlessness, but that doesn’t mean that women with courage have some innate disregard for consequence. Rather, true courage comes when the consequence of being fearful is the worst option of all. Courage comes from that moment of: this has to work…so I am just going to go for it. Every great Hollywood heroine connects with her inner gump when there is nowhere else to go but up, and frankly, you’re no different. Scarlet O’Hara, Mildred Pierce, Katniss Everdeen, Princess Leia – they all pulled it off when there were – literally – no more choices for them.
So. This is the one time that you will ever hear me tell you that NOT having another choice is the secret of success. An escape hatch or a Plan B will do you no good. You’ve got to back yourself into a corner. (I would prefer it to be a figurative corner, but whatever works.) Once you decide that there are no other choices for you – success is your only option – your inner well of courage will flow freely.
Cash is a little more tangible than courage…but it is no easier to come by. To begin your own company – you are going to need a safety net. And the safety net is as much for the business as it will be for you and your well-being. It, after all, will be far more expensive than you think. It. Just. Will.
I don’t say that scare you, rather to encourage you to plan for it. A business plan is critical to start. And does it need to be a 30-page synopsis of the business landscape as you see it!? Well, no. Not if you are bootstrapping. (Investors may like that, though.) What you really need is the spreadsheet of expenses. Just like the Movie of Your Life, but instead, the Movie of Your Business. What will the rent cost? The internet connection? How much do you need to live while you launch? What are the association fees? What kind of logo will you need? And do your due diligence, especially with costs that are outside your wheelhouse. (For instance, don’t assume that PR will cost 5K because you think that’s the right number. Talk to 3 publicists, find out what they would charge, and base your cost assumptions on those facts.)
Then, once you’re done with your due diligence, you’ll end up with a number. Whatever that number is: tack on an extra 30% for the unexpected expenses.
You will also need a letter of Credit from your bank and a personal guarantee if you are leasing office space for the first time. And, with that…there is only one more thing that you’re going to need to begin your life as an entrepreneur….
This may fly in the face of what your inner skeptic thinks, but the truth is, the world is dying to help you. You’ve spent your whole adult life developing personal and professional connections. Some of them are deep and meaningful. Others are relationships in passing. When you first start your business, you have the widest “window” to ask for help. Your connections are going to be curious as to what you’re taking on. It’s one of those moments when “you’ll get the meeting,” so to speak. So take advantage of it.
And, here is my advice for making the most of that meeting. Don’t just tell your story and then expect your contact to know how to help you. You need to go to that meeting with a specific ask. If it’s an old workplace colleague, ask for an introduction to his or her new boss. If it’s a fellow member of the PTA, ask if he or she might host a luncheon and introduce you and your new offering to their immediate network. If it’s a mentor, ask for a ringing testimonial to showcase on your website. And, if it’s a potential client – ASK FOR THE BUSINESS.
In short, do not put your fate in the hands of your contacts. They may want to help you, but they are too busy with their own lives to figure out what to do for your benefit. You must seize the moment and specifically tell them what you need them to do for you. Odds are, they will be relived at the direction and they will follow through promptly.
So, that’s it! Success is spelled with three Cs, who knew!? Good luck. I can’t wait to see all the success that you create for yourself!