Is 2021 your year to start a business?
More women than ever are starting their own businesses. In 2020, I became an entrepreneur during a global pandemic. If I could make it work then, any woman can run a successful business now.
Women today are diving into entrepreneurship at a fast and steady pace.
In November 2019, just before Thanksgiving, the Fortune 500 company I worked for as a marketing executive announced that they were being acquired. They also announced there would be job loss. Talk about a gut punch. Well, I remember thinking, it’ll be about a year until anything happens with this, so I’ll just take it easy in 2020 and spend some time reflecting, getting to know my real desires and what I want to do next. Then 2020 said, Um, Nah. Yes, it was in late January when I had a fantastic idea for the kind of business I would start, the kind of clients I would serve, and the kind of products I would offer. Then late February largely wiped any prospects (financial advisors) off the map for professional development time and discretionary spending. The company was deep in crisis as they spent 18-hour days talking clients off the ledge, watching their assets-under-management and income shrink to nothing. It was the first time I’d uttered the word “pivot” in regard to my own life. And pivot I did.
Everyone was working from home or engaging in online learning. And most professional women were getting serious about trying to figure out a more flexible working arrangement. After all, inflexible corporate 9-to-5s weren’t exactly compatible with managing eLearning for your kids. So before my business had even started, I needed to come up with something else. I decided then that I wanted to work with the MEs of the world- those hard-driving, corporate achievers who’d spent the last 20 years acquiring encyclopedic expertise in their areas of knowledge. And now they wanted to take that knowledge out for a spin outside the corporate hamster wheel and put that know-how to use in their own consulting and coaching businesses.
Hitting the gas
The timing was right, but nothing else was. I still had a full-time job. My kids were home with me. My husband was damn near literally chained to his computer from 7:30-4:30 every day. But I put the pedal to the metal and started growing. With a smart online content plan and a list-building strategy in hand, I took to the interwebs and started building. Within 30 days, I had three high-ticket, one-on-one clients. That summer, I added seven more. Running a successful, profitable business? Check. I’m not saying it was easy. There were sleepless nights and crying jags, and a whole lot of stress. It was NOT easy. But for me, it was fast. Now that I’ve figured out how to be profitable, I’m focusing most of my energy on figuring out how to be scalable without working 24/7. I’ll let you know where I get with that because I still have a way to go. It may not be perfect, but my less than the one-year-old business is profitable. And I started it during a historically dumb time to start a business. So if you’re thinking of starting yours in 2021, you’ve got a lot of advantages pushing you along.
There was a lot to learn along the way
For one thing, most “gurus” out there who say they’ll teach you how to start a business? They have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s like they took a course on Instagram marketing and now suddenly feel qualified to call themselves “business coaches.” Absolutely get advice. Absolutely pay for coaching. But get it from people who have proven their worth and are genuine experts. You deserve that, and so does your business. The most important thing I learned along the way is that I don’t actually have to do everything. It’s true! I know women reading this are like, “Yeah, I do all the things too.” I hear from you. Letting go of things for every part of my life has always been a struggle. But I got to the point where I literally didn’t have time to stop and pee during the day. I would look up at 7:30 and say, “Huh, I haven’t urinated once, and all I’ve had to eat is half a bowl of stale popcorn that my kid left out from the night before. Neat.” I don’t know what the mental block was for me, but I refused to help my technology, social media execution, and admin and communications work. Mainly, I felt like I would be a fraud if I couldn’t do every part of my business myself. Eventually, it occurred to me: Just because I can do it all doesn’t mean I should.
The amount of time (and therefore money) I was wasting on low-level administrative minutia, graphic design, scheduling posts, approving comments was RIDICULOUS. So I broke down and hired an assistant. Then I hired someone to clean the house. Then I hired lawn care and someone to hang Christmas lights. And it changed my damn life. I spend more time with the kids. I sleep. I work out. I make actual meals. I pee when I need to! It’s amazing. You don’t need to do everything in your business either. And if you’re just getting started, the earlier you know that the better off you’ll be. Identify your partners early. Bring them into the planning process. Jealously guard your time and use it only for sales and product development. That’s what you’re here to do. You’re not here to set up the new vanity URL or answer emails.
You’re here to create something with your unique knowledge.
Here’s the point: If I can do this, so can you
I was able to take a half-baked (but well-conceived) business idea and turn it into a profitable business in the middle of a pandemic and historic economic recession. So in 2021, what happens when purse strings loosen up again, and people are optimistic about their lives and businesses? There has literally never been a better time to start a consulting, coaching, or professional services business. The startup costs are low, and if you have genuine expertise, all you need is some dedicated time and a smart content strategy to start being recognized as a go-to expert. 2021 is the time to start something big. We’ve just learned that life is way too short to play small and sell yourself short. What are you in this world to do? What is the unique expertise that your wildly competent, the super-smart self has that can change someone’s life or business? Please make it a point to give that gift to the world. And let that gift be the thing that sustains you—emotionally and financially—by turning it into a profitable business.