My son came home from his first week of middle school with a lot of excitement about his new history class. Turns out they are studying “early man,” the evolution of life and its many changes. This got me thinking about the evolution of women entrepreneurs and the different phases we go through on the journey to business success.
When you pick up a magazine, read an online article or meet a woman who’s achieved great success in her business, do you sometimes wonder, “How did she do that?” I know I used to ask myself this question in the early days when my business was in start-up mode. When I think about my own entrepreneurial journey and the women mentors who walked this path before me, I visualize five phases in the evolution of a woman entrepreneur. Once you understand each phase, you’ll begin to see where you are in your entrepreneurial evolution and what you need to do next to create the business you dream about or take your existing business to that next level of success:
If you’re thinking about starting a business, the first question you want to answer is,”Why do I want to start a business?” Your answer to your “why” is the foundation for everything that comes next. Is it because you are passionate about owning a business? Is it because you need to earn extra money? I started my first business at the age of 28 because I saw a great opportunity to earn an extra $500 per month. I started my current business nearly eight years ago out of a heartfelt passion to support women, both personally and professionally. Along with your why, it’s important to do some research to find out if there is a market for your idea. Do people want what you have to offer?
Create a plan to get noticed. Once you know your why and decide what the business is, it’s essential you create a marketing message that you can share with people you meet, potential referral sources and also for online visibility. You’ll want to design a marketing plan so you can inform and educate people about your business. There are many choices for marketing you can use both online and offline. Now is a great time to decide what forms of marketing will work best to reach your ideal client. When I first started out, I relied heavily on local networking, referral sources and speaking at local events.
Reflect & Review. This is a key step and sometimes it can get overlooked or ignored for too long. You need to reflect and review often about how you are doing. Is your plan working? Are you meeting your goals? Are you attracting new clients regularly? Is your income consistent or are you experiencing an ebb and flow? This is not the “fun” part of entrepreneurship but it is important. I found after a few years that I wanted to take my business to the next level so I made the decision to work with a coach as a “thinking partner” to help me review what was working, what wasn’t working and make the necessary adjustments so I could accomplish the renewed vision I had for my business.
Re-launch. Once you reflect and review, it’s time to design a new plan of action. You’ll need to make changes in your business to prepare for these new and exciting ideas to roll out with ease. This is an ideal time to think about adding more team members (or possibly your first hire) and systematizing as many parts of your business as possible. You’ll want to invest in giving your marketing materials a “face-lift” to show that you are seriously going to the next level in your business.
Longevity & Leadership. As your business reaches new heights and people on a much larger scale become familiar with your work, you’ll be invited to share your story and expertise with people in your industry. The longevity and success of your business is directly related to you becoming a rising star and being recognized as a leader of women in the world.
Your entrepreneurial journey may not follow this path exactly, but you will find yourself in one of these five phases at one time or another. When you meet a woman who has achieved your definition of “success,” remember it probably didn’t happen overnight. It takes plenty of patience and planning to make it to the top. I invite you to spend some time this fall looking at your own evolution as an entrepreneur and decide where you want to go from here.
Anything is possible. Everything is waiting for you.
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