Get in loser, we’re starting a small business!
Yesterday, my friend/partner Marie Segares and I
survived another day without killing each other recorded our March 2015 Women’s History Month-inspired No Frills Small Business podcast…and I think it was our best one so far! (Not just because at one point I played the Odd Couple theme for Marie and she didn’t deck me.)
Given that it was Women’s History Month, Marie and I spent the show addressing some of the most common issues/questions we field from other female entrepreneurs, ranging from “I feel like a fraud,” to how to start a business, when everyone else in your life seem to think you’re going to bring about the end of the world. Spoiler alert: You won’t. You’ll probably be broke as a joke for a while, you may wish for death, you may wonder why morons breed so actively, you may fantasize about water bottles filled when vodka when dealing with difficult clients, you may cry yourself to sleep…but if you learn from your mistakes, and make a choice to educate yourself and to succeed, I promise, one day you’ll feel the tide of herstory (*) turning in your direction, and you’ll think, “…whoa. I did that. I. DID. THAT!”)
* Sorry, couldn’t resist.
But let’s say you are surrounded by naysayers, and you’re thinking, “Well, I guess I have a solid idea, but my family thinks I’m crazy and how am I supposed to meet anyone who might be able to help me?” Good question! You probably already have an amazing network…you’re just not using it, so you don’t recognize it, you don’t know it. Identify your immediate goals: are you trying to raise money or just get some start-up advice? Different people have different types of knowledge. The key is to identify what you need to know, so you can work backwards and figure out whom you might know who can help you, or even whom you might know of, who would actually have some expertise/experience in dealing with your concerns, so you can reach out them to in a way that gives them a reason to help you.
If, for example, you just whine, at large, on your Facebook page that you want to start a cooking business, but you don’t know where to start…*crickets.* Some people will made sad noises, but doubtful you’ll get any actionable help. However, if you write out a list of your questions, and then go through your Facebook and LinkedIn friends and associates, looking for people with some connectivity to your concerns…you’re probably going to be shocked at how many people you actually know who could really help you.
Have you joined your college/grad school alumni associations? Join them right now, and see if they have entrepreneurial groups. If necessary, pick up the phone and call your alumni associations headquarters–remember, your loans pay their salaries!–and tell them your situation, and ask what resources they have.
Get some basic, professional business cards and go to alumni networking events. Review the online guest lists in advance, and see if there are people going who are running the type of businesses you’re interested…now you know whom you need to speak with. If they’re going, they are also looking to network, don’t worry.
Check out your alumni association Facebook pages. Wellesley College, for example, has “private” Facebook pages–pages for alumnae only– for women who want to do everything from talk about how to make the perfect cup of coffee to how to change the world. What resources does your college/grad school have? If there are no such Facebook pages, or social media groups, why don’t you start one? (That was the sound of me blowing your mind. You’re welcome.) Start the page, and suddenly you’re the person to know. As all entrepreneurs know, if you can’t find it, create it!
What about going on your college’s alumni LinkedIn group, introducing yourself, and asking if there are any people in your area whom you could meet up with, for coffee and advice? You could start a weekly video chat for other entrepreneurs in your area. Start a podcast. Not sure if you can/should start a podcast? If you’re interested, odds are other people are also. Stop making excuses, and get to work, Kid. You’re trying to start a small business; worry less, do a LOT more.
When I started this business in 2008, I called up people from high school whom I knew had created successful small businesses to ask their advice. Some of them gave me great advice. On the other hand, some of the other people I re-connected with, made me think,”…really? This schmuck has a successful business and I’m worried. Really? God, you’re still the same loser you were in tenth grade.” (You can probably guess how much fun I was as a teenager. Joy to the world!)
I’m just saying, starting a business is never perfect. It never will be perfect so stop wasting your own time and just. Do. It! While you’re waiting for perfection, someone else is starting with what they have. When a year from now, people are talking about them, you’ll be even more furious and frustrated with yourself. Starting a business can be terrifying, rewarding, fun, frustrating, miserable, exasperating and even, frequently, amazing. If you listen to our podcast, you’ll hear that Marie and I started our respective businesses in very different ways. There’s no one right or wrong way…just your way. #gettowork