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This article was co-written with Lara Hamdan, co-founder, Cloudhoods.
Over the last decade, the number of startups, SMEs, and entrepreneurs has been rising despite global economic stagnation- or perhaps more correctly, because of it. As industry giants continue cutting down costs, more people are resorting to entrepreneurship to carve their own career paths. This entitles them to flexible working terms, breaking out of the system’s rigidity, and setting sail to their imagination, creativity, and ambitions.
Globally, men are still more likely to establish businesses than women. One of the main causes can be that women are still responsible for upkeeping the household, raising children, and catering to educational and recreational needs, while fulfilling their own employment obligations to guarantee an additional income. However, things are visibly changing. During the past few years, we have seen a great number of women embracing entrepreneurship, leading the way in several industries, and writing beautiful success stories that inspire.
Transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship takes much more than capital or a skill, especially for women in male-dominated societies. It requires a leap of faith. The shift might not be easy, but it is rather rewarding on the long run. If you’re thinking that you’ve got what it takes to be your own boss, take the leap. We share some guidance that can be useful once you’ve set your mind on becoming a female entrepreneur:
1. Get ready before you get started. Determine what can you offer that has value to others. Choose your line of work, research it, define your target audience, check competitors, draft a work plan, and set realistic objectives to achieve during the first year. Ask yourself the important questions, such as: do I want to work alone, or with a partner? Do I want to have a physical address for my business, or work from home? Does the kind of business I want to venture in require specific technical skills, or financial and marketing tools I lack? Asking other entrepreneurs around you about the pros and cons of the venture is a good place to start.
2. Take the risk- there’s no “perfect time” to begin. True, it’s important to prepare for your move from the corporate world to the entrepreneurship realm, but avoid turning preparation into an excuse to suspend your business plans. There will never be a perfect time to kick off your business, only a better one. Once you have gathered enough information and set the basics of your business model, delve in. Risk is an integral part of entrepreneurship. Many entrepreneurs take smaller, but surer, steps at first, and once they’ve set solid grounds, they start taking bigger risks, instead of starting big, and faltering down the road.
3. Don’t imitate- innovate. Don’t just decide to become an entrepreneur because someone else made it big. Become an entrepreneur because you are passionate about running your own business, or because you have a great idea that you think would be a hit, or because you have a talent that you’d like to turn into a career.
Related: How Women-Led Startups Can Get Past The Challenges Of Being In A Male-Dominated Technology Ecosystem
4. Expect to wear multiple hats. Yes. As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to do a lot more than what you used to do as an employee, especially at the beginning. If you decide on running a one woman show, you’ll be the boss, the finance and collection department, the marketing and design department, and everything in between. Even when you get a couple of trusted people on board to assist you, you will still need to multitask in order to make things work. However, it is important for you to know that multitasking is not only the result of having less people to do the job, but also the result of a growing feeling of responsibility and ownership. Entrepreneurs start developing ownership of every feature, as they become more aware that any detail could affect the business, profits and reputation.
5. Accept mistakes and failures as part of your success. As you become the captain of the ship, you will have to face monster storms and giant waves. Even if they leave your boat damaged, roll up your sleeves, and start mending. Mistakes and failures exist in every company. Whether a product you launched failed to sell, your supplier got your order wrong, your social media account didn’t gather enough followers, or a competitor stole your idea, these are the instances that make you a stronger, wiser, and more capable businessperson.
6. Discover the real meaning of “being tired.” Entrepreneurship is not just about making more money for yourself and having more free time to do what you please. It’s hardcore hard work. The downside is that you’ll find yourself without fixed working hours most of the time, as you will constantly feel that the more you work the more rewards you will reap. Profits are undivided. This will lead you to a burnout, so try to remain grounded and work with preset objectives. On a more positive note, your brain will be working at full speed, and you will discover skills and capabilities you never knew you had.
7. Get organized, especially if you are a mom who’s becoming an entrepreneur. When making the entrepreneurial jump, many think about breaking free from binding organizational structures. However, being an entrepreneur does not mean you’re on a break for the rest of your life, quite the contrary. Now, imagine you also have a toddler running around the house; or even a few. That’s why you need a work structure that helps you maintain your work-life balance. Here’s how:
- Step 1: Set working hours and days, work according to predefined schedules, make to-do lists, and most importantly, don’t accept more work than you can handle. This will help you keep your business out of your personal life.
- Step 2: Make sure you have personal time for yourself, time with your partner, time with your children, and some social time. This is not easily achievable, but it is possible. Try hiring a professional assistant, a babysitter, or a reliable relative to fill in for you at home or home.
- Step 3: If you work from home, try to allocate a calm workspace, away from any disturbances. If this is not possible, get out of the house, and cozy up in your favorite coffee shop. There are also working spaces you can rent on a monthly basis with access to different business services.
8. Learn what to do with your money. As an entrepreneur, your relationship with money will definitely change. Sometimes you will make more money than you would have in two months worth of employment, and others, you will go for months without an income. Also, remember that entrepreneurs do pay taxes whenever their income exceeds a certain amount, so it’s always best to consult with a certified accountant before you start making your financial plans.
Remember, every inspiring story starts with a leap of faith. Believe in yourself, and you might just be the next big business success story.
Related: For Women In Finance, It’s Time Their Workplaces Stop Adapting, And Start Evolving