If you’re thinking of starting a business, then your timing couldn’t be better. As a woman, there’s more support for you than ever before, from online communities like Work It, Mom! to incubators designed to jump-start your startup. But even with all these resources, launching is daunting! More than half of all ventures won’t survive year four.
To beat the odds, you’ll need to master the “small-business mind game” by learning to think and act like and entrepreneur and mobilizing the emotional staying power to rebound from the obstacles that every new venture faces. Based on feedback from successful entrepreneurs in my new book, Birthing the Elephant, here are some ways to ease your startup stress and plan for a smart startup:
Mind your motivation: Many women launchers focus on money and marketing but forget about nurturing their emotional stamina. But staying motivated is at the heart of small-business survival. Don’t underestimate the effects of the emotional ups and downs you’ll face during your launch -- and have a game plan for managing them.
Assess your assets: Adding up the business assets you’ve acquired is a confidence booster. Whatever your career to date, the skills and experience you’ve gained offer a great launch pad. Inventory your assets in six areas: industry knowledge, business planning, managerial/functional skills, professionalism, contacts and networks you’ve developed, and your insights into leadership styles.
Harness your homework: When starting a business, inner momentum is key, but it needs to be bolstered by solid research and practical planning. The more you know, the better your chances of success -- and the more precisely you can time your move. So do your homework. Research your market. Talk to people. Learn about pricing. Ask questions. Reach out for help. Find mentors. Be coachable!
Build a bridge: You can ease into entrepreneurship, both economically and emotionally. Moonlighting is one option: it can enable you to test-market your product or service, build skills, cultivate a clientele, and boost your bottom line. You can create a “freedom fund” and set aside part of every paycheck to finance your venture -- or live on one salary and “invest” the other in your dream. You can learn the business you want to enter as a volunteer or team up with someone who has a track record in your launch field.
Surrender your stress: A relaxed mind is a creative mind! Positive emotions boost problem solving. So build stress-relieving activities into your daily work plan: Regular exercise and a healthy diet are especially important. Guided meditations are also great: Take 10 minutes each morning or during your workday to close your eyes and go to your favorite beach or mountain. Visualize yourself running your business easily and happily.
Go for growth: As an entrepreneur, you’re trading comfort for growth. To succeed, you’ll need to push beyond self-imposed limits and take on tasks that are unfamiliar. You’re going to have to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable. But don’t let that stop you. There’s an old Estonian proverb that says, "The work itself will teach you." So dive in, make mistakes, adjust your strategy, and keep moving forward.