How To Survive Your First Year As A Driven Woman Entrepreneur
Are you a driven woman in business ready to light yourself on fire with your life's passion and purpose? Thinking of starting your own business or already have one that you are trying to breathe some new life into? While research and statistics show that 80% of businesses don't survive their first year, that in no way has to define your business story.
For most of us driven women entrepreneurs, we start out by paying our entrepreneurial dues which means wearing most, if not all, the hats to keep our businesses running on a daily basis.
As a one-woman show who may also be managing a family and even a full-time job this can cause your business journey to be a thrilling, scary, exciting and stressful one. For extra fun, most of these emotions will also feel like they are happening all at once. A roller coaster ride that can also be a top-notch and competitive one, if you have the right tools in place. Laying a good foundation for your business will prove critical for it's efficiency, productivity and longevity.
As I driven woman in business and entrepreneur myself, I know all too well what survival mode feels like so I have put together these tips based on my own experiences of how to make it through your first year and avoid becoming a statistic (because I believe you have what it takes to stand out as a bold, authentic entrepreneur!).
CLEAR DAILY ACTION PLAN
Each day you should have a clear and concise plan in how you will take action in your business. Goal setting is great, but without a plan all the goals in the world won't get you to the finish line.
Whether you are a pen to paper kind of gal and thrive on using planners or an app junkie who loves Evernote, find a system that works for you in putting together a work schedule to follow and live by. You may not always cross everything of your list every single day and that is okay, life happens but having an action plan sets you up for a lot more success than flying by the seat of your pants and ensures that when you have an off day you can easily slide back into your schedule.
This seems like a no brainer but you would be surprised how many businesses fail due to a lack of basic business principals, time management being one of them. Being your own boss is a blessing that provides flexibility and time freedom but one that can also be a curse.
Be mindful and disciplined to ensure that you make the most of your time in ways that count. It's not about having more hours in the day, it's about using the hours you have to be efficient and productive. This includes prioritizing tasks and learning how to say no to things that are not aligned with helping you reach your business goals.
Answer these four important questions to create a schedule that not only works for you but also produces results:
Time Tracking: How are you spending your time? Where are you spending your time?
Peak Productivity: What time of day do you work best? When are you the most productive?
Prioritize: What are the primary activities that support your business goals?
Scheduling: How much or little can you work at one time to produce the most results?
Give yourself permission to experiment with different ways to organize your time for your personal and business activities. You may not figure this out and hit a home run the first time around and that's okay. Tweak as you go until you find a time-management arrangement that works and then get it into your calendar tool of choice with the commitment to make it a non-negotiable part of every business work day.
COMMUNITY OVER COMPETITION
One of the struggles I hear often in women entrepreneur circles is the feeling of isolation. Being the woman who does it all doesn't mean you have to work in total solitude. Look for Facebook or LinkedIn groups of a like-minded tribe, follow Twitter chats talking about topics that interest you or join a local networking group.
There is enough success to go around for everyone and networking, even with your competitors, can prove to be an invaluable source of ideas, inspiration and encouragement. You’d be surprised at the support, accountability and motivation you can find among other women entrepreneurs.
Burn out is a real concern for entrepreneurs. When the burden of doing it all weighs down on you daily it can affect your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Putting in hard long hours to reach business goals leads to unhealthy lifestyle habits. While it’s okay to burn your candle at both ends every once in a while like to finish a big project or launch a new product, it's a dangerous pace to try to keep up with on a consistent basis.
You can't pour from an empty cup, therefore, your business, your family and you will ultimately suffer. Ensure that you fit in plenty of time for self-preservation into your calendar. Block out every Friday afternoon for a walk outside, a massage or to put your devices away and lose yourself in a good book. Plan vacations away with those who matter most, fuel your body with healthy food, exercise and don't be afraid to seek help. When you feel overwhelmed, find ways to delegate small tasks so you can focus on the bigger more important parts of your business.
Bottom line, listen to and honor your body when it's pleading with you to slow down.
HIRE A BUSINESS STRATEGY COACH
When you're just starting out as an entrepreneur, the first year of your business is crucial and having the right strategies in place early on to ensure you are focused on income producing activities can make or break those first 12 months.
As entrepreneurs, one of the dangers we face in doing it all is the high-risk rate of making mistakes and learning lessons the hard way. We do that one too many times and we sabotage our own business. Hiring a business strategy coach can help you identify early on key elements and blind spots in your business that you are missing. We can become so busy running our businesses, that we don't make the time to develop good strategies and action plans.
Many of us have unlocked areas of potential that we’ve never explored or pursued and a good business strategy coach can recognize and help you unearth those areas while providing a positive space of accountability that can be hard to achieve when you only answer to yourself.
If you are questioning whether a coach could really make that big of a difference in your business, let's put it into perspective this way: if athletes who make millions of dollars a year have relied on coaches their entire careers to ensure they keep improving their skills, why wouldn't we as entrepreneurs?
Being a driven woman in business and entrepreneur is not an easy going, glamorous ride. It's not meant to be (if it were easy, wouldn't every woman you know be doing it?!) but you don't have to go at it alone. There are an abundance of resources, free and those you invest in, to help improve your business daily so you can reap the benefits of those efforts inside your very first year.
I for one am proud of you for taking your dreams this far. Keep up the good work!
What are some struggles you are facing in your business right now? Leave me a comment, would love to hear from you.
P.S. Looking for a business strategy coach to help you uplevel your entrepreneurial game? Let's schedule a time to chat, no strings attached. I would love to hear about your journey thus far.
Kendra Dahlstrom is an author, keynote speaker and organizational leadership expert who shares winning strategies with your clients to help them transform from ordinary to extraordinary by unearthing their natural-born leadership so they can live to their full potential in life and at work. Her book “Leading from Your Power: Boldly Influence Others by Being Your Authentic Self” is set for release in January 2018.