Beginnings are scary. Remember the first date? Butterflies, nausea, nerves, sweaty palms.
While in decades past people used to think of anything to do with business as stuffy and boring, these days more and more female entrepreneurs are seeing their businesses as one of the loves of their lives.
Stage one: Flirting
A coy look and a dimple flash, it’s game on. And that hair flip? You’re going in for the kill. This is your dream stage. You see an opportunity and fantasize about the future. And you seek that commitment, trying new and different ways to gain interest.
The only problem is, as long as you are just flirting, your business probably isn’t going to put out. It won’t earn the money you need or fulfill your longterm needs. If you’ve been stuck in this phase, toying with the idea of doing what you love, it’s time to make it official.
How do you know when it’s time to go past flirting and get serious?
- You are ready to go from charging little to nothing to making real sales with real people. Maybe you have been toying with the idea, doing it for free for friends, but you see the results you help people get and are ready to turn this into something bigger.
- You are ready to take the relationship out of the closet and introduce your business idea to your friends. Is the business idea something that your friends already come to you for when they want it for free? Or something that they are always telling you that you are so good at? Like relationship advice, career advice, IT help or for free websites? If they already talk about how awesome you are, let them know what you are doing so they can spread the good news further faster!
- People have actually told you that you should be charging, or charging more, for what you do! Has anyone ever told you, “Wow, you are so good at this! I paid $2000 for that crappy website that you just completely fixed and made beautiful for me. You should be charging money for this!” or something similar? Listen to them. And test them out. It’s one thing for someone to say “I would pay x amount of dollars for that” and another when you say “Ok, I can do that for you right now. Here is my credit card reader on my iPhone, let’s put through the charge and I’ll do it for you!” Try actually charging 5-10 people to validate your idea. And yes, even charge your friends. It’s the only way to know if they are just being nice or really meant it.
Stage two: Dating (and yes, going all the way)
Knowing you need more for yourself and your business, you formally begin dating. You even update your Facebook status (now that’s serious, isn’t it?). You work out your business model, design a website and maybe hire a coach to help you build a solid foundation.
Another nerve wracking moment: your first few clients! It feels like introducing your fiancé to your parents. You are actually earning money doing what you only dreamed of before.
It’s still a bit scary, but the income helps you see that the relationship you’ve been building can be successful, so you start to value it even more.
With every date (client), you get more and more serious and, as you court your business, you finally decide to commit and go pro: the next phase in business ownership and financial planning.
It’s time to pick a business structure (LLC, S-Corp, C-Cort, etc), it feels like picking out a ring! And then you open a real business bank account. Now you’ve moved in together. Business and home time start overlapping. You’re trying to find a good balance. Yes, you might still be working out the kinks of your offerings or trying to find new streams of income, but you’re certain this business is worth investing in.
How do you know when you are ready for the biggest step of all, going pro i.e. getting married?
- You are earning enough income that this is no longer just a hobby.
- You need to get a bookkeeper and accountant to make sure you are handling your finances and taxes correctly.
- You are asking yourself questions like does the EU VAT ruling affect my business or not? Should I be paying quarterly estimated taxes? Am I charging sales tax correctly? Can I get sued if I do something wrong?
- You are ready to quit the day job and do this full time! Or at least make a plan so you can do it in the near future.
Stage three: Wedding Bells
This is when you learn that kinks always come, but you’ve been working hard at running your business and can’t imagine your life without it. You have systems in place to work through the shortfalls.
Sure, you have moments when you threaten to leave and slam the door because you need more, but then you refocus, reprioritize and look to the future to start setting more goals.
Even if you’ve been married to your business for years, you remember flirting and dating and look back thinking, “I’m so glad I’m done with that.” Because it’s not just you taking care of your business, finally your business is financially (and emotionally) taking care of you. This is meaningful and important, and it’s why you went through the rest of that crap to begin with.
Just like a courting your future husband or wife, the phases of business ownership and financial planning are important to your long-term success and happiness. Whether you’re just starting out, an eager and hopeful entrepreneur, or you’ve been an S-corp for five years, each stage brings with it new hitches, but – even greater than that – are the future possibilities when you say “I do.”