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Young female entrepreneur, the world may seem far too big for your little startup. There are competitors who have been in this game for decades before you. You fear the time might not be right for your little idea. Maybe, worst of all, you don't see how useful your idea is in the vast scheme of things—
Knock it off! Don't let your fears hold you back. Success will be hard. The road is paved with broken startups at your feet—but if you stay the course and keep a determined eye ahead, you can mount atop the corpses of your failed competition, and ascend to startup Valhalla. If you believe in yourself, and follow a logical set of guidelines, young female entrepreneur, your startup will meet the standards set only in your dreams.
Determine Your Passion
There's that old phrase, young entrepreneur, that work isn't work if you enjoy it. Or maybe it's not that old, and I just made it up. Either way, the idea is that, when you make your passion your job, your job becomes play.
Your start-up is going to be a long term investment. You are going to devote long hours into the night over this. It be very unwise to dive headlong into something that makes you miserable, or, worse, bores you. Find what you love. Make what you love your job. It will be far easier to devote yourself to that idea if you enjoy it.
Just reflect on your life from a young girl to womanhood. What is it that makes you happiest? Compile a list, and let it sit. What do you keep coming back to?
What's Your Plan?
Before you start anything, you need a strategy. You can't wing it.
What services or products do you offer? How will you supply it? How will you be able to supply it? How will you promote it?
These are major questions any woman starting up her own business needs to ask. The core questions you need to have an answer for before you even begin working on your business.
The model needs to be established from the get-go. If something doesn't work, remember to be flexible enough to adjust. This plan is not a rigid structure of bone, but more like a shark skeleton of cartilage—flexible, but formed.
Divide Work and Home
You can't let these two bleed into one another. You need time for you. You need time to breathe, to be your own person. Devoting yourself to an idea is great—don't get me wrong—but you need more in your life than work. You need to keep your social life and home life pure and untarnished by work obligations.
Every entrepreneur, be they male or female, needs to take a break.
But, at the same time, your personal life can't bleed into your work. When business becomes personal, you lose that clear sight that you so desperately need to succeed. It may keep you from fully committing to a deal or beneficial thing that can only help spur you on.
Remember that line from the Godfather: "It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business."
"Life moves pretty fast." Ferris Bueller may have been onto something when he said that. But you, future business woman, are not going to skip school and cause mischief. You're going to stay up-to-date with all the tech in the world.
Every year and a half, technology triples in power. This is a well-known constant. If you do not remain up to date, you will be behind. You need every capability at your fingertips in order to stay in this fast-moving world.
A slower company will be left behind in the dust. That is bad for an established business, but a start-up without remaining up to date will be dust on the wind: forgotten before the current ever slows.
Use computers. Use advance tech. Do not depend on antiquated tech, or else you will flounder.
Be A Penny Pincher
Now, I'm not saying you need to turn into Ebenezer Scrooge, but, as an entrepreneur, you need to save money wherever you can.
Especially as a startup, your business is going to be on a tight budget. You do not have billions to spend on everything. You have maybe millions—possibly thousands. Every cent is worth something. Money does not care if you are a man, a woman, black, white—money is cold, uncompromising, and stingy.
So you must be a little stingy, too.
You cannot waste money on things that won't benefit you. Before making any spending, consider what spending this money will bring back to your company. Will this decision make you more money? How much?
Define Your Brand
Now that you have your structure, it is time to define your brand.
This is one of the most important elements to do from the get-go. What kind of business are you starting up? What do you want people to think when they see your brand? Do you want them to know the entrepreneur who runs this business is female? Does your personal identity matter at all in relation to the company?
What colors will you use for your logo? What design? Are you making a mascot? If so, what is said mascot like?
Once the brand is established, stick to it. Keep that brand afloat and specific and special. Don't deviate. You can only stand to benefit if you stay the course.
Genuine Contacts–Get Them
I'm not talking about throwing around business cards at any chance you get. I'm talking about talking to people. Knowing them. Getting to understand who they are, what makes them tick, their goals and dreams... I'm talking about friendship.
Though it is hard to trust anyone thoroughly in business (anyone can screw you over), it is important to help people around you out and offer your services so that you can be elevated in the hierarchy of the business world. Help out another business? They may require your services, and word will spread of your start-up.
There are numerous places for a woman like yourself to talk to like-minded female entrepreneurs. Associations like the National Association of Business Owners (NAWBO) and American Business Women's Association (ABWA) are ideal forums for you to communicate with other people. A good chance to make a social link that can only stand to benefit you, perhaps?
Don't Fear Failure
As you develop your contacts, young entrepreneur, you will run headlong into rejection. A lot. The door will be slammed in your face again and again, and there is nothing you can do about it.
But do not fret. Failure is inevitable. Insults are inevitable. Betrayal—rejection—cruelty. You will encounter all of this. It may be easy to be discouraged, to wonder what life would be like if you just chose to be a plumber or something else...
You are never going to be a success if you aren't determined. You will encounter failure, but if you feel as passionately as you do about your dream as you do, someone else will, too. All you need is success, and a clear enough mind to know how to reach it, and you will succeed.
Fit Your Business Around Personal Goals
But that said—this may sound contradictory, but consider this: the best way to keep business from getting personal is to build your business around your personal goals.
What that means is this: what do you want your personal life to be? Are you planning on a family? Living the bachelor life? Hoping to spend extra time finishing every Zelda game ever made?
Either way, if you need that lifestyle to make you happy, consider what kind of business plan will allow you to maintain that lifestyle, while, at the same time, benefitting your start-up.
Get Thick Skin
Everybody's a critic, aren't they?
As you expand your contacts, you will find people who criticize your brand. Ignore personal insults. No one cares how good you look in a dress or if your voice is annoying when your brand kicks off. Bullies will always say things to bring you down, so you have to tune them off.
But many people will act like they know what you need to do to succeed. They will make suggestions and statements to pressure you to follow a different business model.
This model may be appealing and good for a certain kind of brand, but one entrepreneur's success is not necessarily your own. You need to have the good sense to ask "Is this where I want to take the company?"
But, at the same time, listen to criticism. Don't ignore feedback that can benefit you. Don't be afraid to change. Because those who are stuck in the mud will stay in the mud while others drive past you. You need to listen to feedback that can help you grow, while ignore comments that do not serve you well.