Starting your own business is a dream shared by many people in various stages of their lives. Whether you’re in a dead-end job, fresh out of college, or just looking to start up something you feel happy doing, as a woman, you face a few challenges that your bearded counterparts do not.
The road to start-up success is bumpy for everyone, and unless you have a trust fund to cushion the inevitable falls, expect to learn how to lick your own wounds and figure out how to move forward unscathed. The dynamic is different for female entrepreneurs, and you should expect to be under greater scrutiny from the get go.
As such, learning the ropes of starting your own business is crucial before you take any steps forward.
Know Your Industry
Women are expected to start businesses in cutesy industries like baking or crafts. As far as women have made it in business, the odds are still against them in certain industries. It’s no secret that women are in the minority when it comes to the programming and engineering fields. If your business isn’t “female-oriented”, say a technology start-up, you better brush up on your competition and current events in the industry and in start-ups within the industry.
By being knowledgeable and up-to-date on the happenings and lingo of your industry, you quash any preconceived notions of your abilities and earn a respectable vantage point when it comes to networking and dealing with potential investors.
Nail Down a Pitch
Known as the “elevator pitch”, any business, no matter your industry, can be summed up in one, intriguing sentence.
Sounds easy right?
No, it’s not, and this will be one of the more difficult tasks you undertake when starting your business, especially if you’re passionate about what you’re doing. Narrow all of your thoughts into one cohesive statement that effectively communicates the nature of your business, the ways in which what you’re doing either disrupts the industry or innovates an existing part of it and leaves the listener interested in finding out more. You should mentally carry your pitch wherever you go and be able to whip it out at a moment’s notice.
Know Your Investors
Chances are, whatever you’re doing, you will need some funding and will therefore need to approach investors. There is a whole structure to the world of investors that you need to know. Most start-ups begin their search for funds at the angel investor level. These are typically either individuals or firms looking to make small early investments into start-ups they feel will eventually progress to be eligible for higher level investments or acquisition.
While some female angel investors do exist, you will likely be meeting with mostly older men. You will not only be judged on your business plan and the components of your start-up, but will need to establish your abilities to run a successful business as a woman. Since more is at stake at the VC (venture capitalist) level, expect these judgments to increase in scope and intensity.
Cockiness Fails Fast
If you’ve achieved some level of success with your start-up right off the bat, keep the cockiness at bay The one thing about start-ups that is common across the board, from industry to industry, is that they are volatile. One day, everyone is singing your praises, and the next you’ve disappeared off the radar into a netherworld of has-been start-ups. While enjoying your small successes is healthy, feeling like you’ve “succeeded” once you receive some funding or make some traction with your business sets you up for failure. Practice humility, drop the cockiness and you will be able to move your business forward.
There are much easier ways of making money than starting your own business, but most are not as rewarding in non-monetary ways. Being an entrepreneur is challenging but exciting and as a woman, setting yourself on an independent path to success, while full of unique obstacles, will make you feel like a million bucks even if you don’t end up making a cent.
Do you want to start your own business? Doing what? Or if you have started a business, what were your challenges?