As I mentioned in the intro to this week, being an entrepreneur doesn't usually look like I'm snuggled in bed watching Netflix at any time of day. There are a great many challenges. There are also a great many rewards, and I wouldn't trade either side of the coin for anything in the world. So whether to do it? How to start? How to make every day count? How to apply self-motivation and other entrepreneurial skills to being #girlboss of your life?
Is the entrepreneur life for you?
Work-from-home, small businesses, and craft/micro/bespoke businesses are popping up everywhere these days, but is that the right step for you? The challenges of running your own operation are many, from the potentially (likely) unstable inflow of cash to having to wear the majority of the hats yourself (boss, shipping pro, coffee getter, lead sales associate, seamstress, what have you), to despite being the boss having to keep so many other people happy, be they clients or employees or investors. It's a heavy weight.
What I tell hopefuls who ask is always this: Do it only if it's the thing you must do. This is the life I'm supposed to have. This is the thing I must do. Just like making music was the thing Kacey Musgraves had to do, and to her it was worth all the years waiting for the right people to hear her and all the risk of "who will get it?" I shouldn't, and in a way couldn't, be doing anything else. If that's how you feel about striking out on your own then do it - and do. not. turn. back.
How to Start?
There's no real answer to this one because it depends entirely on what kind of business you're starting. Some need investors, others your own small investment. Some need formal and elaborate business plans, others need a plan that's more of a list of wild hopes tied to their realistic expectations. Some require inventory to sell and others clients to fuel the fire. But all ventures start with this: all you've got. Here's a shortlist of what you'll need to start any kind of business:
- A sense of what the business will do and won't do, and what it stands for (brand)
- Willingness to do whatever it takes
- An appropriate timeline for each step (don't hire help or get office space before you're more than ready, for example)
- Excellent communication skills
How to make every day count?
I'm sure you've heard this before in various forms. Eat the frog. Take the stairs. Bite the bullet. We tend to put off doing the things we less like to do. If I had my way I'd spend all my time on artist development with my clients and less of it on other mundane or taxing tasks. But those things are vital to the survival - and even more, success - of the business. The clever metaphors ring true. The only way to get through your day is to do those things first, or at first opportunity. If I send the 15 emails I don't want to send in my 8:30-9:15 time slot, then I have the rest of the day to focus on the stuff that's easier and more fun.
It's also helped me to create some kind of structure. I work in different places each day, with different team members around me or sometimes alone, but I have a general schedule I follow: which hours are always work hours and which are flexible for meetings or errands or workouts, which tasks I complete when, and so on. I definitely don't have a quitting time. Some days I'm done at 3 so I can get ready for an event. Some days I am still answering emails at 10 (probably with a glass of wine on my desk - letsbehonest).
Lastly, I trust in the systems that are right for me. I handwrite to-do lists every few days and those listed tasks are my time priority. When I respond to an email I immediately file it in the appropriate folder, so my inbox is always only emails I still need to respond to or complete the task requested in it. My two inboxes stay at under 10 emails each on average. I use Evernote for meeting notes, to edit bios, and for my travel itineraries so I can access these things on all my devices and share them with my team. Every event and meeting for every client goes into a color coded Google calendar. Twitter lists keep me efficiently up-to-date on the things I most want to stay up-to-date on. Think about the parts of your day or week or month that could use streamlining and search for or create a system, and then use it.
How to apply entrepreneurial skills to your own #girlboss life?
Do the hard or less fun things first. Find and use systems that work for you. Hope wildly. Expect realistically. Fight to do the thing that you believe in your soul you must do. Appreciate - not just accept - the challenges. Celebrate the wins. Don't rush things. Make plans. Roll with the punches. Know what you stand for. And most of all? Love what you do. Love the ever-precious minutes out of every day.
I hope you've loved #girlboss week! Missed a post? Flip back through!
Questions? Leave them in the comments below!
Want more? Here are a few of my favorite posts that fit in with this week's topics:
Some of my favorite Twitter accounts
Create deadlines for yourself
Master first impressions
Develop your brand
Change your career