Yes, you can do this.
Starting a business is hard. You’re putting everything on the line – your reputation, your income, your very way of life – and it’s scary, I know. You’re going to have a lot of people tell you what your next step should be. I’m sure you’ve seen, and probably already researched, all the things you need to do to get your business started: business license, check. Business plan, check. Mission statement (not completely necessary, but check). Budget, check. Marketing plan, office space, email, check, check and check.
But there’s one thing that you won’t hear about in school, or from small business startup guides, even though it’s important. In fact, it’s probably the one thing that will have the most impact on your success as a business owner.
It’s your confidence. Your mindset. How you see yourself – and how well you can envision your success and the path that leads there for your company.
Unfortunately for most women, confidence doesn’t come naturally. We’re smart, of course. And ‘accomplished.’ And we damn sure know how to do our jobs. But then there’s that little voice inside, the one that cries out, “You’re in over your head” or “You don’t know what you’re doing” and “You’re crazy to dream so big” or the worst one, “You’ll fail.” If you listen to that voice long enough to fall under her influence, she’ll be right.
Or you can ignore that negative voice. Because right now, this very minute, you have everything you need to succeed.
You’re not in over your head. And you can win at this. You were made for success. And here’s how you’re going to do it.
(1) Believe in yourself. You know that dream you have, the one of accomplishing BIG things? Not everybody has that. (I know, it surprised the hell out of me, too, when I first discovered that.) If you’ve got a big dream, God put it there for a reason. And then he gave you the means to reach it. Anything you can envision, you can achieve. All you have to do is give your mind a reasonable path to get there, because once you believe there’s a way, you can do it.
(2) Do something every day, or at least every week, that scares you. Don’t be complacent. Challenge yourself. Push your boundaries. Grow. This is how your confidence grows. And confidence has a beautiful way of growing into all the other parts of your business and life. Confidence is the #1 secret weapon of successful female entrepreneurs.
(3) Know that you’re not going to get where you’re going overnight. And once you get there, there’ll be another ‘there.’ So enjoy the journey – every single step of it. You chose this life, in part, to give yourself freedom. Enjoy that freedom. Take time every day to do something fun. Otherwise, what’s the point?
(4) Take care of yourself. As the business owner, you are your most important asset. That means you have to drink enough water, every day. Eat your veggies. Enjoy wine, but not too much, and try to do so with friends at least once a week. Plan to exercise every day, because there’ll be days when you have to skip, and if you shoot for every day you’ll get it in at least four times a week.
(5) Sleep. Time spent in bed is never a waste, and you’ll always be more productive after a good night’s sleep. There will, most likely, be times when you have to work late into the night or even sunrise to meet a project deadline, but make these rare, your choice, and worth it. Don’t do it for less than your time is worth, and reward yourself afterward.
In short, treat yourself like you would one of your own children. Because they’re watching you – and learning how they should act when they start businesses of their own.
(6) Find a fight song and start a playlist that inspires you. There’ll be times, usually once a day, when you’ll need it.
(7) Every single morning, spend at least 10 minutes visualizing the life you want to live. Don’t allow any interruptions from outside, or negativity from within. Then spend another 10 minutes in stillness. This is where inspiration is born.
(8) Don’t work in your pajamas, unless it’s 5 am. When it’s time to be at your desk, be dressed, with makeup and hair done, if that’s your style. Even if you don’t have a mirror in front of you, you’ll know. How you look affects how you act, so dress like the woman you want to be.
(9) If someone believes you can reach your dream, talk to them as much as they’ll allow. If someone isn’t sure you can do it, or worse, thinks you’re wasting your time, avoid them at all costs. And if you can’t avoid them, for heaven’s sake don’t talk to them about your work. Naysayers can drag you off your path and send you into a downward spiral without ever realizing it – especially the ones who are just trying to be helpful. You’re not avoiding them forever; once you’ve gotten a couple of major wins, you won’t be as vulnerable. You’ll know when it’s safe to be around them again. (Unless you discover that negative people are best avoided permanently because they suck the joy out of your life.)
(10) Don’t look back, because that’s not where you want to go. When you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it. If someone makes you mad, let it go. Save all your mental energy for the present and your future.
You’ve got this. There are many, many women who’ve gone down this path before you, and we get to enjoy the freedom that you can only get from being your own boss. It’s hard, at times, but it’s also the best way to live your life.
Embrace it, and enjoy every minute.
Welcome to the club.
I’m Leslie Smith, I own Heron Design. I’ve worked in marketing & communications for three decades, and started my company 18 years ago. I love what I do for a living, and I love helping clients realize how much power they have in creating their own lifestyles. I believe that the right branding & marketing can open a whole new world for a business owner.