The following is excerpted from “Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur: 10 Mindset Shifts for Women to Take Action, Unleash Creativity, and Achieve Financial Success” by Charlene Walters (McGraw Hill, February 2021).
One day, you will be happily working for someone else: exceeding monthly goals and growing their profits. And then, another day, you’ll realize that you’re not getting the recognition or opportunities that you deserve. It’s at that moment, you’ll wonder why the heck you’re doing this to yourself and BAM—your entrepreneurial lightbulb will begin to glow.
Are you a woman who wants to take control of your earnings and your life? Are you dissatisfied with the corporate grind and want to follow your passions professionally? Are you tired of getting paid less than your peers for doing the same work? I’ve been there before, and I know what you’re experiencing.
Perhaps you’ve already struck out on your own as an entrepreneur, or maybe you hope to do so in the near future. It’s a big jump either way, and you’ll need extra support to give it your best shot. If you’re like many women (myself included), you are also the primary breadwinner in your household and have a burning desire to bring in additional income for your family. I don’t blame you: you want to take care of them and give them the best.
If any of these statements ring true, then this is the book for you and NOW is the time to take action as there will be many new business opportunities for female entrepreneurs resulting from morphing industries in the aftermath of COVID-19. You deserve this chance!
You won’t be alone, either—more and more women are starting businesses than ever before.
In fact, 42% of all small business or franchise owners are female, and there are 13 million female-owned businesses contributing to $1.9 trillion in revenue.
Current trends suggest it’s likely these numbers will keep rising—so it’s time for you to grab your share of the revenue, and today is the day to get started.
Your transformation will begin in the mind: after all, entrepreneurship is an inside job. If you’re a woman who is ready to take the plunge into becoming a company founder, then there are important mental shifts that you must make before you kick off your journey: you must put aside your insecurities and doubts about the success or failure of your venture as well as the fears associated with no longer receiving a steady paycheck—so that you can move forward to become an effective business owner.
This is a tall order, but taking action is the first of 10 Mindset Shifts you’ll read about in this book that you must embrace as a “fempreneur” (a female entrepreneur) if you not only want to make that initial entrepreneurial leap, but also hope to continue to grow and expand your business over time—launching your inner entrepreneur and unleashing the startup within.
It starts in your mind
As an entrepreneurship mentor who has worked closely with countless female entrepreneurs, I can testify from firsthand experience that for women, there is so much about becoming an entrepreneur that begins with transforming the way you think. Research shows that many women suffer from deficits in confidence and feel more doubt and insecurity about their abilities and talents than men do—insecurities that can hold them back from ever starting down the entrepreneurial path. So let’s begin by talking about the mindset adjustment required for a woman to become a true entrepreneur. Are you ready? I hope so.
Desire is half the battle. To remain successful in a world where traditional employment will become less frequent, you’ll do well to focus on those areas where you excel and tasks you love to do. You’ll also need to keep learning and growing throughout your journey, because technological and industry advances will only escalate in frequency and speed, so your learning and skill attainment must become more rapid and consistent as well.
All of this momentum pushing women toward an entrepreneurial life is a great thing. You’ll be doing more of what you really enjoy and less of what you don’t, which is in line with the fact that the pursuit of passion is one of the main reasons that women dive into entrepreneurship in the first place. The increased focus on learning and mindset adjustment associated with starting your own business will keep you fresh and challenged, too. So, it’s time to start thinking about what skills you’ll need to gain, and how you can shift your mindset to facilitate the life of a successful fempreneur.
A Mindset Shift related to taking action will be central to your success in terms of not only having the confidence to get your business off the ground, but also in regards to what you’ll need to do every single day to keep moving your business forward. Taking action is a key component of an entrepreneurial mindset. Thriving female business owners are doers, not merely dreamers (although I do encourage you to aim high). This Mindset Shift will show you a few of the ways you can take action and get started.
Starting as a side hustle
While taking action is your ultimate goal, you don’t have to jump headfirst into it without a trial run. The path of a fempreneur requires a huge career commitment, which is why beginning with a gig or “side hustle” while you’re still traditionally employed is a smart way to test the waters.
A recent study found that more than 44 million Americans have some sort of side gig. Further, 51% of women surveyed had side hustles compared to only 35% of the men surveyed.
What are the benefits of this more measured approach? Establishing a side hustle provides aspiring fempreneurs with both the security of a stable income and the freedom to experiment with growing a company separate from their day job. Building your business more slowly after hours while still working full-time can take the financial pressure off, allowing you to continue to bring in pay while potentially growing your venture’s revenue at the same time. If and when you’re financially and emotionally ready to turn your side gig into full-time entrepreneurship, then you can quit your day job. A side hustle is how I got started, a little at a time.
There are countless possible launching pads for a side hustle that you can grow into a full-time business, which include but aren’t limited to teaching, writing, digital marketing, tutoring, coaching, child/pet care, AI, IT, training, product development, photography, real estate and graphic design. You might also consider food preparation, catering, cleaning, repair services, landscaping, market research, event planning, house sitting, beautician/stylist services—the list goes on depending on your own skills, interests, and expertise, and limited only by your imagination. Do you like to work with people, throw virtual parties, or create things? Are you eager to showcase your writing talent? Consider where you can provide the most value while reaping the highest reward. What better way to develop yourself than to start a company? And I would add that there is no smarter way to reach that goal than greasing the wheels for it with a well-planned side hustle.
Finding your niche
Part of flipping the switch to an entrepreneurial mindset involves finding an appropriate focus for your business. Research has found that one of the main reasons small businesses fail is a lack of understanding of their target audience. Aspiring fempreneurs must recognize the essential nature of researching the market that they are considering by examining the competition, complementary products or services, and unmet needs. This type of specialization involves identifying a gap or doing something better than other companies servicing the same business sector, which requires uncovering and eliminating customer pain points to create a more seamless experience for your target market.
Don’t rely only on your online research—talk to other market insiders for ideas, and remember that the goal is to serve your niche better than anyone else. A once-little startup disrupted the taxi and limousine industry by developing a deep understanding of an existing space and solving customer problems. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Uber. By simplifying transportation for riders, Uber changed the way everyone got around and decimated the competition. If your car broke down or you wanted a designated driver after a girls’ night out, you could easily get to where you wanted to go or hit the town without having to deal with a rental car or taxi. Thanks to Uber, Lyft, Car2Go, Zimride, and the other disruptors that followed! It will be interesting to see what happens next in this morphing industry
Once you’ve homed in on a potential niche, be sure to do even more investigation to ensure that there is a worthwhile market potential for your startup. Is there really a demand and desire for your product or service? Does anyone really want jalapeño-flavored chocolate chip cookies? You’ll never know until you investigate.
As you consider possible areas of focus, you should also reflect on the amount of time you can commit to your startup and the competition you’ll face. Look to other entrepreneurs who have similar businesses to assess if a particular angle is worth your while and do some major digging.
“Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur” is available now and can be purchased via StartupNation.com.