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One of the most freeing feelings in the world is creating a successful business from scratch. You call the shots, you make the decisions, and you reap the profits.
Choosing to become self-employed can be scary. In fact, when I made the decision years ago, I rarely got a good night’s sleep, and I always felt surprised when I earned enough to pay my bills. I was even more surprised when I, eventually, could buy a few of the nicer things in life, like throw pillows and wool-blend socks.
Self-employment can be an answer to making extra money, earning some cash as a stay-at-home parent, or if you’re done fighting traffic just to make it into work on time in order to grind out your forty hours per week. Most freelancers and business owners are happier and healthier than those that punch the time clock. Why not get in on that joy by being your own boss?
If you’ve wondered how most self-employed women get started, we’ve put together a guide to help you put the ball in motion if you’ve considered going at it on your own.
Narrow-In on Your Passion and Find Your Niche
Some of us are Jills-of-all trades that can paint the most stunning compositions that stop viewers in their tracks and also write songs that listeners replay on loop for hours. This is great; you can incorporate your talents in various ways into your business. But you need to focus in on what skill you want to sell and rely on.
You may be able to offer it all, but when it comes to your business, you shouldn’t. Find a niche or a category in your market to focus on to help more customers find your services and to set you apart from your competition.
Some niche ideas to get you thinking, include:
- Painting dog portraits
- Designing custom tv stands
- Creating eco-friendly home decor
- Freelance writing for any given industry
Decide if Self-Employment is Right for You
You’re going to be broke–or at least somewhat broke when you first begin unless you find financing. You’re also going to be stressed out. I can tell you that most people find it worth it, but your situation may not allow for these circumstances right now. Take an honest look at your finances and situation and decide if you can manage financially and emotionally before taking the plunge.
Self-employment also requires that you approach your skill with a different mindset: that of profitability. This is difficult for some people since they’re always used their skills differently. Prepare yourself by playing over rejection and criticism in your mind before experiencing it in real life. If it’s too difficult for you, you may not want to be a business owner.
Research the Competition and Create a Business Plan
Before you register your DBA with your state, take the time to look into the competition to see how they run their businesses and what you think you could do better. This will help you create a business plan.
When creating a business plan, you want to look at the macro picture and the details of how your business will function. You also want to set goals and establish a mission and company culture. This will help you stick to your brand as your business develops.
No matter how small or large your business is, you will want to be prepared with a plan that will scale. Make sure you think about the cost of your time and other details that go into your pricing like if you need extra space while working from home.
Choose a Memorable Name
If you thought finding the perfect Instagram handle was hard, try naming a business. Take your time and try to be as creative as possible without losing sight of what service or goods you offer. Make sure your business’s name is easy to pronounce and memorable.
Test your name by asking friends, family, and strangers what they think. Don’t rush into committing to a name until you’re ready.
Create a Website
Most businesses exist on the web these days. This helps you reach a national and international audience if you wish to. A successful website also makes pitching or selling to customers a lot simpler. Selling becomes more of a one-and-done process rather than repeating your selling points over and over again.
To create a website, register a domain name (probably your business’s name), design an attractive layout, write your “About Us” page to share your journey, and write compelling descriptions of your services or products. Most website services also keep track of your sales for you to help make accounting easier.
A lot of new business owners struggle with the idea of tooting their own horns. Don’t be. You’re awesome, you make the best products and provide the best service. Review some marketing basics to get started. Be proud of your skills and market them the right way.
Some marketing strategies that won’t break the bank and help establish your brand include:
- Social media promotions
- First-time customer discounts
- Partnering with other local businesses
- Starting with friends and family
- Partnering with a charitable cause
Keep Your Clients Happy
One of the simplest ways to stay in business is to keep your customers happy. Invite customers to use your services again and create a loyalty program. Ask if you can post about them on social media. Request and value their feedback.
In a world where people trust Google more than any other source for information, customer reviews will help keep you afloat. So, make sure your customers have a great experience and have wonderful things to say about you.
Venturing out on your own can be one of the most frightening endeavors you pursue, but it can also be the most rewarding. If you’ve always wondered what it’d be like to follow your dream and share your love for your craft with others, save up a big emergency fund and do it. Don’t look back. Be bold and be brave.