Starting and running a business is one of the most rewarding, challenging, amazing and scary things a woman can do in her life, and one of the most common problems clients come to see me about is when, after a few years of doing their business, it seems to be running them.
‘But I don’t want to get up at 5am every morning!’ one said recently. And why should you? Unless you want to of course. And that’s the thing: we all want different things out of our life, and our business, and the wise woman considers this before she starts. The size and potential shape of a business, whether it will employ people, or just be you, if it’s a full time or part time entity all needs careful consideration. Know what you want, and you can manage your time and energy to get it.
And I can say this because I am now wise with hindsight! I’ve written this article to help you be wise at the beginning, and whilst I can’t stop you learning and failing and learning all over again in your business (because this is how we grow!) I can help you consider what kind of business you want, and based on you, your circumstances and your goals.
Is this: business used to have one model. A business was a place where people went to work. Premises, people, paper. And unless you had all of that, you didn’t have a ‘proper’ business. Worse, I’ve seen business owners escape from the tyranny of corporate life only to impose the same tyranny on themselves and their teams: starting early and working late. Don’t get me wrong, business is work and needs application. But do we all need to do it THE way. What about YOUR way?
Your Way Forward
Here’s what you need to consider:
From the business! Start with the end in mind. Is your business something you want to sell on? In this case, you need to build something that is sellable. Assets like products, turnover, and patents. Consider who would buy a business like that. Keep an eye on the market. Is your business something you own, but do not work in? Or do you want a lifestyle business that gives you a moderate income until you stop doing it? Or is your business your passion and with other income streams, it just has to break even? Once you have determined this, you can consider
- Time. How much time do you want to spend in and on your business? Often, the bigger the business the more time it can take to build, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Working smart is the key. When you work for yourself, no-one is there to tell you have to work long hours to gain recognition or promotion. So what does smart working mean to you? Figure this out. Then there is
- Money. How much do you want to invest? Do you want others to invest? What would they expect from you in return? Make sure you know this, and that you are ok with it, before signing on the dotted line. And finally
- Energy. Where are you in your life now? Do you want to ramp up, or begin to wind down? What other considerations are there in your life that may take energy? Elderly parents, struggling children with young families or grandchildren you want to spend time with? Create an ‘energy map’ and decide how much energy you want to put into your business and how much is needed for other things. Otherwise you will just fell pulled from pillar to post.
The internet has changed the way all of us can do business. The opportunities for buying, selling and communicating online mean that if you never want to leave your kitchen, between the hours of 9 and 5 you can still run a successful business. If you work best with people, set up a partnership or network to bounce ideas off people. If you are time scarce, resist pressure of long meetings in the next county and skype. Once you have your business vision, and have worked out exit, time, money and energy, you have something tangible to create. Remember, it is YOUR business and it should exist to serve you, not the other way around.
Once you have decided what kind of business will suit you, get the support of the people closest to you. Communication is key. Your partner and family and close friends need to know the way your life is going to unfold, otherwise they may not understand what you are doing and this can cause friction.
Reserve the right to change your mind
Because you may begin with one idea and as your business develops you are going to learn more about your business sector, your customers and yourself. Leave space in your head and your diary quarterly for the ‘Whose Running Who’ check. Change things you don’t like. See a business coach if things are not clear (we come in handy!). Just remember that being your own boss comes with challenges, rewards and is great fun…and keep it that way.
Coaching Business People www.coachingbusinesspeople.co.uk