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work for myself

Life
Fall Update: The Crazy Life Of A Budding Entrepreneur
November 9, 2010 at 11:51 pm 0

juggling-woman

Wow, would be one word that would describe this fall. It has been totally crazy, and I love it! Here's what's been happening: - The business that I started 1 year ago has really taken off. When I started working for myself I was worried that I would make almost no money in the first year. So, I set my sights with a very moderate goal in mind -an income goal that was enough to make ends meet. One year in I've more than doubled the goal and the outlook for next year looks very promising! - I hired someone to help me with my workload - saving me time to live a pretty normal life! When you start your own business you work like crazy. At a certain point you may even have no life. And that's the point to step back. Why are you doing all this hard work anyway? To lead a better life, right? So I figured out what worked to get new business and keep clients happy - that's my job. The other behind the scenes things that I don't necessarily need to do all myself - I'll got help with some of these. Freeing up more time for me to live an actual life! I no longer have to pass on every single invitation that comes my way!! - We sold our condo. We live in a wonderful little condo with a view that is out of this world. The problem? It's tiny!!! This condo is where my husband lived before we were together - it's great for a bachelor, but not great for 2 people, especially when one of them works from home! So we put on the market, and started to look for a bigger place. - The bigger place we bought was actually a house in the country! That's right, a place in the country! We were originally looking for a house in downtown Toronto, but the prices were so high for something decent that we expanded our search, and by chance happened to find a gorgeous house on a nice piece of land in one of our favourite towns in the province. We went to see the place once, and bought it the next day. - But we don't plan on moving to the country full time, so we also rented a place in the city! Country bumpkins we are not, and while we love the idea of sitting by the fire, spending quality time in our peaceful house in the country, the reality is that we love the city life too, and the vast majority of our client meetings are downtown. So we'll spend a few weekdays in the city attending to business, and then the rest of the time in the country. To sum it all up things have been crazy, but good crazy! For all of you out there that would love to start your own company and experience the freedom that comes with it. Just do it! Yes, it will be scary, yes there will be some risk involved, but just think of the rewards! Want to be able to spend time with your family and work in a fulfilling career - what's stopping you? Want the freedom to travel for a month every summer to come back to a growing business - what's stopping you? There's a beautiful life waiting out there for you. What are you going to do about it?
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Life
Top 10 Lessons Of Successful Female Entrepreneurs
June 8, 2010 at 10:39 am 0
Many female entrepreneurs struggle to make their businesses succesful, sometimes wondering if it's worth it. But it doesn't have to be so difficult! There are a million opportunities for women and also a million lessons we can learn from other women who are successful female entrepreneurs. The following article is from a post on smartcompany.com - written by Amanda Gome. It's a great read and provides excellent information that every women will find valuable! --- Recently I interviewed a young female entrepreneur, Lisa Messenger. Although she had almost 10 years experience working in large corporations, her first venture was a disaster. The reason? She spent all of her time doing favours for other people, and told everyone that she didn’t care about money but just wanted to follow her passion. Soon after she launched her sponsorship company, she paid $30,000 for a staff member and an office, but took no salary for herself. Of course she went broke before coming to her senses and launching a successful business, Messenger Publishing. Unfortunately this is a story I have heard many times: the ambitious businesswoman who tells anyone that will listen that money does not matter, shuns any talk of profit and works long hours in low growth or no growth businesses. Often they start their business because they see a niche and want flexibility and independence. They end up, if they are lucky, barely replacing their salary and wondering what the hell they have done; this was never the plan. But then there is the breed of extremely successful female entrepreneurs. By successful I mean bringing in revenue of $1 million and $100 million. They operate in a very different way. From day one, they start with adequate funding. They are not afraid to think big, take a risk and borrow. So what makes a woman a successful entrepreneur? What differentiates her from a struggling business owner? And what traps does she need to overcome – traps that are often specifically related to her gender? Lesson One: Money is good – talk about it, borrow it, control it, embrace it Nice girls don’t talk about money. Nor do nice businesswomen. In fact women in Australia have been so indoctrinated that many (like Messenger) try to use an anti-money statement to position themselves in the market. Entrepreneurs that I interview often proclaim that they are in business not to make money but to “make a difference”. Even highly successful business women like Amanda Briskin who founded Mimco, refuse to discuss revenue. In 2006 I researched 100 successful female entrepreneurs and found that 28% say they hate to talk about money, and most agree that most men are far more at ease talking about money than women. This has profound implications for the business. It can mean the focus is not on the bottom line nor on revenue. It is not on getting money in the door to ease cashflow, and it is certainly not about badgering clients for money. (Nice girls don’t confront.) About 54% of the female entrepreneurs also admit that generally women in business are more risk averse than men and that they are conditioned to take less risk. The difference in ambitions and the way this is communicated means women are often misunderstood by financial institutions. They cautiously start smaller enterprises with a longer start up period, often in traditional industries (which may be low growth). Financial institutions consider them unworthy of investment. This lack of external financial support means many businesses never get launched or at a later stage, fail to expand. It’s a vicious circle because with so few businesswomen talking money, the culture does not change. My research also shows that half of them needed between $5000 to $100,000 to start their businesses. When asked what had held them back, 51% nominated lack of money. A third say they struggled because they could not get enough funds at the start. They regret not starting with more and say it held them back. About 30% say they faced enormous problems getting money to grow while 17% say they tried but failed to get a bank loan. None got money from a venture capitalist and only one entrepreneur got money from a business angel. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lesson Two: Find time and brain space to read that BlackBerry brochure The digital economy was going to increase opportunities for women. Women could embrace new technology, work remotely and combine families with business. So what happened? The current landscape is characterised by a low uptake of e-business by women, research shows. While women lead in the use of computers, they lag in the uptake of e-business. Women also take less advantage of mobile business opportunities. A research paper called “Women entepreneurs in the digital economy: What skills do they really need?” by Patrice Braun of the University of Ballarat, concludes that many women with their family commitments and limited leisure time prefer self guided and learner-managed modes of learning. The report says there is ample research to show that male and female entrepreneurs possess different business profiles – they start and run businesses in different sectors, develop different products and pursue different goals. Yet since the majority of entrepreneurs are males, perspectives based on the male experience have dominated the business skilling arena. Anecdotally many women also complain about the technical language and time it takes to get used to new technology and programs. Yet a high proportion of successful female entrepreneurs love their gadgets and are quick to update, knowing that new technology saves them time and gives them the flexibility and independence they crave. Design software and systems that act as an automatic audit check of your work to compensate for times when you cannot adequately focus, was a recommendation from Wendy Erhart of Withcott Seedlings. Lesson Three: Have a life partner who doesn’t travel Sad, but true. Behind most successful female entrepreneurs is a very supportive life partner. In my research, the majority (68%) of successful businesswomen, when asked what has been a very significant help in expanding the business, report that their spouse was of enormous help. Equally, women report that one of the biggest drawbacks is an unsupportive spouse and a spouse that is resentful about earning less money. Successful female entrepreneurs have one word of advice – dump an unsupportive spouse and find one that backs the dream. Lyndal Thorburn, who runs Innovation Dynamics, advised that it was best to have a husband who doesn’t travel. Lesson Four: Fight discrimination and bullying Women face a range of cultural barriers that do not exist for most men. It starts when they first enter the workforce; they earn less than men the higher they progress, despite doing the same work. Women also report that some men, particularly older men, hate having a woman boss. Marie Hatzis who runs Hussy Clothing, said “some men hate the fact that I am dominating at work”. While some say they have no problem, many report that men play power games and “bulldoze” decisions. Successful women entrepreneurs say they deal with this in several ways. First, they don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. They learn to look for these traits when recruiting or dealing with clients. Many say they don’t recruit older men with entrenched attitudes. What they don’t do is ignore bad behavior from men. As for direct gender-based discrimination, they confront it head on. My research found that a third of women say they have suffered direct gender-based discrimination when setting up the business, and half say they took action. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lesson Five: Make the baby part of the business plan Yeah, yeah, unexpected things happen, of course. But successful female entrepreneurs take a very strategic approach to having their families. Almost 70% of the successful female entrepreneurs have children. Half of those say it has been very hard combining entrepreneurship with having a baby. But they also say long-term planning is the key. The best time to have a baby is when the business is between six and 10 years old and when the woman is in her 30s. But half of the successful female entrepreneurs say they deliberately slowed the growth of the business on occasion to cope. While half say they did not mind, the other half say they were not happy to slow growth. Lesson Six: Don’t feel guilty Society still has high expectations that women are the primary carers of children. Carmelina Pascoe from My Coffee Shop sums it up: “It’s bad enough that both mothers and fathers have to sacrifice their time with their families to start a business. It’s criminal that mothers also get a guilt trip laid on them for doing so. We’re already berating ourselves about this without the community’s help.” The most successful female entrepreneurs are ruthless time managers and are determined to run their own guilt-free race. Tamerlaine Beasely, who runs Beasley Intercultural, said she had learnt to “multi-task, constantly prioritise” and to use “flexibility, use technology and systems and good child care”. “Ignore the guilt placed on you by the community,” advised Nicole Dickson of Beyond The Square Communication. Margaret Lomas, who runs Destiny Financial Solutions, said: “Don’t listen to others. Do what feels right for you without guilt.” Lesson Seven: Pick businesses in high growth industries I have consistently found when researching female entrepreneurs that they tend to lean towards industries that have less financial barriers, less sexism and are less technologically oriented than men. Even successful female entrepreneurs congregate in four industries; property and business services, personal and other services, education, and retail. In fact the research I did in 2006 showed that none ran businesses in the booming industries of mining, construction, infrastructure or utilities. Only 3% ran information technology companies. This does not mean you cannot run a highly successful business in traditionally “female” industries such as retail. Janine Allis started the highly successful Boost Juice but came up with an innovation that changed the industry. Diana Williams started Fernwood because of her observations while at the gym that women preferred to exercise away from men. Besides, many traditional industries are dominated by highly aggressive companies dominated by men. Gillian Franklin, who runs the cosmetics company The Heat Group, with revenue of $75 million, says her competitors are run by men. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lesson Eight: Join the right networks Women are great communicators and have extensive networks. Right? Well partly. But are they the right networks? My survey of successful female entrepreneurs showed what while they rely on mentors, accountants and business people, very few use industry groups, consultants, business coaches or government bodies. Research from the European Business School in Germany shows that women have a limited access to social networks that are crucial for career development. They also have a tendency to avoid occupational activities, which eats into their individual free time. Researchers have already noted that the differences in network access between men and women could have a significant impact on the rate at which women start ventures and their subsequent performance. Another recent study has shown that there is no significant difference in the overall number of networks, with entrepreneurs accessing more than four different networks over the course of a year. However male entrepreneurs did make a more intense use of formal networks while females made more intense use of informal networks (friends and family). The research says that too much time spent networking with family and friends is likely to be counter-productive. The research, from the University of Western Australia called “Gender Networking Differences” and its association with firm performance, concludes that entrepreneurs need to monitor the resources they devote to networking so the benefits they receive exceed the costs. Lesson Nine: Don’t wash the tea towels Women can wash tea towels quicker, better and cheaper than anyone else. So they do. Besides who else is going to do it? A common trap for businesswomen is to take on a whole range of small tasks, from preparing invoices to paying the wages. Female business owners loathe outsourcing. Money is tight and why pay for something they can do themselves? This is the classic trap, and means they are always working in the business not on the business. A further disadvantage is they spread themselves too thinly, keep the company small to cope with the workload, or burn out. But successful female entrepreneurs learn to overcome this trap. In fact they become ruthless outsourcers. Cleaners, cooks, nannies, accountants, a top management team and child-tolerant staff are all essential…. and so is a sense of humour. The female entrepreneurs also say they learnt to take on skilled workers earlier and delegate more. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lesson Ten: Get tough with staff; they are not your friends Female entrepreneurs are usually excellent communicators. They also prefer a consultative, inclusive style of management to a hierarchical, aggressive style. This leads to a big problem, often acknowledged by the women – they are too soft on staff, who subsequently take advantage of them. The answer? Don’t adopt the traditional male style of managing. Just learn to manage a lot better and walk a comfortable line between being friendly, but not necessarily being a friend. This article was originally published here http://www.smartcompany.com.au/premium-articles/top-story/20080214-top-10-lessons-of-successful-female-entrepreneurs.html
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Life, Style
Ali De Bold: Fearless and Fabulous Female Entrepreneur
May 5, 2010 at 10:30 am 2
Ali De Bold - cofounder of ChickAdvisor.com Our latest Fearless and Fabulous Female Entrepreneur Series feature is Ali De Bold - co founder of ChickAdvisor.com. Equipped with a great business idea and loads of hard work she and her husband and business partner, Alex De Bold, started www.ChickAdvisor.com - Canada's first user generated reviews community for women to share advice on their favourite products and local places. It was launched in September 2006 and has reached over 3 million women since. How did you start your business? I was planning my wedding out of province and was researching for hair salons and spas for the big day. It was 2004 and there weren't any websites in Canada that had reviews for those kinds of services. In fact, most salons didn't even have a website. My only option was to flip through the yellow pages and choose the prettiest ad - and pray I picked well. I complained to my husband that there should be a site like that where women could give each other advice and he suggested we start one! Did you always know you wanted to work for yourself? No. I didn't have any specific desire to start a business. I always thought I could work equally well for myself or someone else as long as I was passionate about what I do. What’s your typical day like? I get up at 6:30 and go to the gym. That's the only time I can squeeze in a workout and it helps with energy and productivity. If I'm not in meetings, I spend a lot of time preparing proposals for clients, writing articles, chatting with members in the forums, testing and reviewing new products and attending press events. I also have a strategy session with the team once a week to discuss new ideas, then do testing and tweaking until it's ready to go live. What was your biggest worry when you started your own company? What if I fail? I always believed in the concept, but it's an incredible risk to work for yourself with no safety net. I'm very lucky that my husband is my business partner. He's a web veteran and incredibly smart, He supported us while we got the company off the ground. If I didn't have him, this wouldn't have been possible. How long did it take for you to feel confident about working for yourself? I didn't have much time to ever reflect on that. When we started the company I was in school full time in my second year of a 4 year degree program. I worked hard out of necessity because failure wasn't an option. I wasn't going to drop out of school, and since money was tight, I had to get strong grades so I could get scholarships every year. I wasn't going to let the business fail either. I don't start something only to get a C+. I wanted an A and I really pushed myself to get that. What surprised you the most about working for yourself? I'm more capable than I thought. I've learned so much in such a short time. I would never have believed this could be possible in 3 years. Was there a moment that you thought you wanted to quit and go back to a 9-5 job? Never. Being an Entrepreneur is incredibly challenging and there are more ups and downs than you could imagine, but it's all worth it. I've never regretted doing this and unless it was failing, I wouldn't be able to quit. What have you sacrificed? Social life, sanity, lifestyle, money… a lot. I've never worked so hard in my life. It took a long time for my friends and family to understand that working for yourself doesn't mean you have more free time, it means you have less. If you don't sit down and do the job, it won't get done. Even if you hire someone to do it, they may not come through for you and so you'll be the one working into the wee hours to push it across the finish line. I've sacrificed a lot but I've also gained a lot. It's a crash course in business, marketing, management, logistics, accounting.. you name it. What advice would you give to other women who wanted to start their own business? Start it for the right reasons. If being rich is your ultimate goal, you may be lacking the passion and vision to actually create something of value. If you are passionate about what you do, the money will come. If it doesn't, you'll still be happy along the way because you are doing what you love. I also think it's extremely important to have several mentors you can turn to for advice. I've learned a lot from my mentors, one of the most important being: Hire slow and fire fast. Having the right people on your team is critical. If you haphazardly hire someone you will pay for it later. Is there anything you would have done differently? I'd trust my instinct more. It's so cliche, but it hasn't led me astray. There have been cases where I've ignored it, whether it's hiring someone I didn't feel 100% confident about or entering into business discussions with parties I don't completely trust, and inevitably I would have been better off trusting my gut. ---- If you enjoyed this interview you should check out our interview with Lisa Ng - DJ, Fearless & Fabulous Female Entrepreneur and blogger at Hip and Urban Girl
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Life
Lisa Ng – DJ: Fabulous and Fearless Female Entrepreneur
March 16, 2010 at 12:18 pm 2
Lisa Ng is a woman that goes after what she wants. She's never worked in a corporate office, she owns her own DJ company, Hello DJ, and she's not afraid to take risks. But how did she do it and what's it like? How did you start working for yourself? I launched my DJ company, hello DJ! in June 2005 while working towards my Honours BA in Political Science and Cinema Studies at The University of Toronto. It started out as a way to pay for school and by the time I graduated, the business became so successful that I was able to work for myself full-time. I found a niche being a hip, fun, non-cheesy female wedding DJ in a male-dominated market. Finding a niche is the most important thing you can do when launching a business. How can you differentiate yourself from what is already out there? What were you most worried about when you started your own company? That no one would actually take a chance on a new company like mine and book me for their wedding or event. It did help that we charged a very reasonable amount of money when we were first starting out to reward the clients that were willing to book with us. We delivered an amazing performance and from there word-of-mouth spread, we were slowly able to raise our rates and gain more clients. Today, we are one of the top wedding DJs in Toronto. My advice is to be the best that you can be and the money will follow. What's your typical day like? I am a night-owl because I usually work until 2 or 3 in the morning when I DJ on weekends. It's really hard to get back on a 'regular' schedule during the week. I usually get up at around 10 AM, eat breakfast then check my iPhone to make sure no one has an urgent need. I relax until about noon when the majority of my emails have come in and take 30-60 minutes to knock them all out of the park so I can move on with my day. I will listen to new music, go to the gym, work on my blog, hang out with friends, network with entrepreneurs and simply live my life. Since I give up so much time on the weekends, it's really important to claim back what I can during the week. I will check my email throughout the day to set-up consultations and respond to new inquiries. I try to only sit down to answer emails again at 4 PM and 10 PM. I don't want this to dominate my life, so I try to work as efficiently as possible. What's your favourite thing about working for yourself? The lifestyle! I never had a 'real' corporate 9-5/40 hour a week job post-university. I am really grateful for this and enjoy being my own boss. You can also be picky about when you want to work and can take as many vacation days as you want during the year, as long as you are still making decent money. If it's sunny outside, I'd like to take the day to find a great patio or go for a walk. Life is all about balance, make sure you work to live and don't simply live to work. But when you are working, make sure you are busting your ass 150% to do the best possible job you can. Mediocrity never got paid well and does not translate into good word of mouth or more business. What's the thing you enjoy least about having your own company? Well, if anything does go funny for whatever reason - you are ultimately the person who has to answer. I answer to my clients only and I try to make sure I only work with great people! What advice would you have for women that wanted to start their own company? Crunch the numbers, make an excel spreadsheet and make sure that your venture is profitable and will not just be a glorified hobby that will leave you poor and stressed out. What kind of money does your competition make? How saturated is the market? Could your partner or family support you financially while you are in start-up mode over the next year? Don't be afraid, but be realistic. I come with tons of ideas everyday, but not all of them good or necessarily profitable. What are the most influential books that you have read to help get you started or keep you on track? The Magic of Thinking Big The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not! How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets Don't be afraid to pick up a couple of the top business books out there and educate yourself! Ask your network what some of the most influential books are and start from there. -- Lisa Ng is a freelance writer and DJ based out of Toronto, ON - Canada. When she isn't DJ-ing at a non-cheesy wedding, Lisa is scoping out the best urban eats and fun travel spots on her lifestyle blog, The Hip & Urban Girl's Guide.
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