A couple of years ago, I quit my 13 year career with a FTSE30 company to set up my own online business. The driving force behind my decision was the fact that I have two young sons, and I was sick of not being there for them.
I felt like I was in a permanent state of compromise. If one of my boys was ill or had a school play or concert, I had to choose; miss the event and feel like a bad mother or miss work and feel like a bad employee. If you’re a working parent, then this is probably an issue that is all too familiar to you!
Looking back, I often wonder why it took me so long to take the leap into entrepreneurship, and I suppose it’s because it felt like just that – a leap. A leap of faith. A leap into the unknown.
“Was I cut out to be a business owner?”
“Did I have the ‘entrepreneurial gene’?”
If you’re considering taking that same leap (or perhaps you already have but you’re experiencing those same doubts), then don’t worry! There is no ‘entrepreneurial gene’ but there are some key qualities that I’ve discovered I’ve needed in bucket-loads and that I believe are the secret to success as a female entrepreneur.
Making that jump from corporate to CEO is scary! No more paid leave and expenses, no more annual bonus and company pension scheme…. Gulp! No more guaranteed monthly income.
Then there’s the huge learning curve that you have to go through as your business takes shape and starts to grow.
To keep going with all that going on takes courage – a whole lot of it too!
2. Thick Skin
For your business to be successful, you need to be visible. I mean really visible. Putting yourself out there means sharing your message, your brand, and to a certain extent, your soul. Your business will often feel like your baby – you’ve created it from scratch and now you’re showing it your potential customers and asking them if they like it.
A lot of those people are going to say no. If you take all those no’s personally, you’ll never get out of bed in the morning! Your business won’t be for everyone. YOU won’t be for everyone, but that’s okay.
Speaking of all those no’s, that’s where some good old fashioned perseverance comes in. After every knock-back and every failure, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and see what you can learn from the experience.
Then move on and try again.
You may well have heard the term ‘creative entrepreneur’, which refers to those whose businesses are based around their own creative talents. I think the term is somewhat misleading because I believe that all entrepreneurs must be creative in order to succeed.
You will create a brand that will set you aside from your competitors. You will create products and services which will delight and entice your ideal clients, and you will create marketing content and strategy to grow your reach.
Aside from the more personal aspirations such as more money or freedom, most of us go into entrepreneurship hoping to use our particular knowledge and skills to solve a specific problem for people. Perhaps we want to perform a certain service for people such as photographing their wedding or doing their bookkeeping. Maybe we want to teach them something or coach them in an area of their life.
Whatever product or service you may be offering, it is vital to really understand your ideal clients and how they feel about the particular problem you’re solving.
Being able to empathize with your target audience not only helps you to shape the exact services you provide, but it will also give you content for your marketing.
Most (if not all) successful entrepreneurs have an element of explorer in them. They want to test new theories and push new boundaries to see what happens. This is how innovation takes place, and innovation is an important ingredient in any successful business.
It’s easy to feel passionate and excited about your business when you’re just getting started. It feels like you’re setting out on a wonderful adventure. You have a mission and fire in your belly. Nothing can stop you!
Six months down the line, when you’re still not really making any money, no one is visiting your website or commenting on your Facebook posts, and you’re working 12 hour days but seemingly getting nowhere, then it’s harder to keep that passion burning and to find the fire you need to keep going!
Once you become CEO of your own business, you are responsible for EVERYTHING. It can be all too easy to start to drift, with no real sense of direction of purpose. It can also be tempting to just spend your time doing the stuff that you really enjoy.
You’ll waste an awful lot of time this way! So it’s important to get organized from the start. Set goals, create plans to achieve those goals, and manage your time so you’re focusing on all the essential elements of running a business and not just those you find fun.
Want the support of your family and friends? If you don’t believe you can do this, then you’re going to really struggle to convince them that you can.
How about your customers? If you don’t believe in the value of your services, then how can you expect your potential customers to?
If you don’t believe you can do this, then you won’t.
‘Wait, what? I need to be confident AND humble?’
Exactly! You need to recognize where your skills lie and then own them. You also need to recognize your development areas and not be afraid to ask for help. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have weak areas – there’s no shame in it. Identify yours and get support.
So you see, there’s no secret ingredient or magic gene that means only certain people can succeed as entrepreneurs! It’s just a case of focusing on these key qualities and taking one step at a time.
You’ve got this.
About the Author
Colette Broomhead works as a startup strategist for people who want to quit their 9-5 for good and create an online business doing what they love. She publishes weekly blog posts on ColetteBroomhead.com.