If you’re considering a leap into entrepreneurship you’re not alone. In the UK 4.3m people say they are unhappy at work. Furthermore, 8.6% of women say that they would like to start a business in the next 3 years and of the women who have already started their side hustle, 31% of those have ambitions to grow their business into a full time gig.
The top three motivators for women making the leap into entrepreneurship are greater independence, a more flexible ‘work-life’ balance and the opportunity to make better use of your skills and experience. A change in financial circumstances like a redundancy, the release of savings or inheritance can also act as an external trigger. Or perhaps you’re someone who simply wants life to be different and that nagging feeling of ‘if not now…’ just won’t go away. Whatever it is that means you just can’t shake off the idea of running your own business, here are 5 key lessons we’ve learnt to get you started.
1 – Be clear on your why
When you think about starting your business ask yourself why. And when you respond ask yourself why again. When we ask ourselves why 5 times we get to the heart of the matter. Perhaps where you end up is that you want to be an expert in your field – known far & wide for your expertise. Perhaps you want to work just 6 months of the year from a mountain-top. Perhaps money or social impact is your real motivator. Diving deep into your own personal ‘why’ will fuel your passion, motivation and resilience for starting and building your own business.
2 – Make your story work for you We get it
If you’ve not started a business before it can feel like you’re making a leap into the unknown. That because you’ve not done it before, you’re starting from scratch. There will of course be things to learn. But that’s not the same as not knowing anything. In your career and life so far you’ve built a bank of wisdom, experience and know-how. So whilst you might be new to owning a business, those well-earnt experiences and know-how are part of your story. And you’ve earnt that story so make it work for you!
3 – Think big, start small but do start
We often see women delay their leap into entrepreneurship because they are waiting for everything to be right. To feel truly ‘ready’. To have everything in place. We call this Perfectionitis. Which comes with one overriding symptom of holding yourself back. Achieving your ‘think big’ dream for your business doesn’t happen in one almighty leap. It happens as a result of lots of small steps. The only way to be ready is to start. The only way to know what works is to begin. The only way to know if your customers will buy your product or service is to start sharing it with them. So think big, start small but definitely do start.
4 – Don’t ask friends and family
When you first start exploring your business idea it’s tempting to ask your friends and family what they think. Don’t. Your friends and family love you, they’re going to say nice things. And whilst that’s lovely, it won’t help you to build your business. The people you need to share your business idea with are your customers. Go and talk to them – have a coffee with them, create a survey, run a mini focus group. Be really, really curious about them and allow what you find out to shape your business idea (& when you’ve done that, ask your friends and family to pour you a glass of wine to celebrate the fact that you’re building your business!).
5 – See one to be one
Activist Marian Wright Edelman said “you can’t be, what you can’t see”. And we couldn’t agree with her more. Knowing at least one other entrepreneur doubles the likelihood of you starting your own business. But we also know that knowing another entrepreneur is more likely to be true if you happen to be a man. And on top of that we know the world is much more beautifully diverse than that – women of colour, women from the LGBTQ community, differently abled women. Women who are building businesses in sectors where women are underrepresented. Surround yourself with these women. Be inspired by their stories, their passions, their know-how. And in turn, share with them your own.
For more insight & inspiration from women who have built their own businesses read we are radikl’s Thrive publication ‘If I could talk to me’. Claire Dunn & Sarah King are co-founders of we are radikl. With the women they serve and via an online community and eLearning resources they’re on a mission to disrupt the ecosystem of support that is available for female founders.
Photo: Karina Lyburn