When I became an entrepreneur, I was motivated by one thing: freedom. I wanted the flexibility to follow my dream. Entrepreneurship allowed me to do work that was engaging and empowering.
I'm not alone. According to a Cox Business study, 61 per cent of women entrepreneurs started a business to be their own boss, and more than 50 per cent became entrepreneurs to have greater control over their future.
So, what holds more women back from taking the plunge? Sometimes, a "good enough" life is itself a deterrent. College, the corporate ladder, a family: Often these things feel comfortable.
"I was successful at a job that wasn't really that difficult," Linda Shesto, CEO of Pearl Aqua LLC, tells me. "When it was time to step into a new reality and become an entrepreneur, I wanted everything set up perfectly. I wanted the same formula for success."
But there's no magic formula for entrepreneurial success, of course. Stepping into the unknown is scary – and many women doubt their abilities, feeling like impostors. "I believe that no matter how thoroughly prepared a woman might be, she will feel unprepared, whereas a man will feel even more prepared than he really is," Shesto says. Unfortunately, research supports this notion.
Other women hesitate to pursue entrepreneurship from fear of not having enough time for themselves or their families. Melissa Sherwood, CEO and creative director at Klara Kelly, says that the biggest challenge is balancing running her business with running her household. And there are many like her. Sherwood's husband can leave work at the office. But she says that her home is her office, making it that much tougher to get work done when her kids are home.
Here, then, are five strategies to help you crush these types of entrepreneurial fears and succeed even as you step into the unknown:
1. Quit seeking validation and embrace your crazy. This is your business. It's yours because no one else has had the vision you did to start it. Stop seeking validation before you launch a new product, program or idea. The most successful people are those who were once believed to be crazy.
2. Celebrate even the smallest of wins. To maintain a go-getter attitude requires positive reinforcement. Have you worked up the courage to make that call you've been putting off? Finally gotten through that stack of paperwork? Kick up your heels and celebrate! That energy will carry you forward.
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3. Get specific. Now that you're trusting your own instincts and celebrating along the way, challenge yourself to break down your vision into smaller chunks. With the freedom to do what you want during the day comes the increased need to stick to a plan. What do you want to achieve this month – and what do you need to do this week to reach your goals? As we know, writing your goals down significantly increases your chances of success.
4. Know that making money is like making broccoli. A mentor once told me that making money is like making broccoli: You're not afraid of using up the broccoli in your fridge, are you? You know you can always get more.
Similarly, if you're committed to growing your business, you can't be afraid to invest in your growth or do the things that excite you. Rather than worry about the money you're spending, focus on making each investment worthwhile.
5. Decide to be grateful. My dad used to say that no matter how good or bad you have it, there's always someone who has it better than you and someone who has it worse than you. Comparison is the root of despair. Every day, we get to choose to be grateful for what we have, regardless of where we want to be.
"At the end of the day, I work for myself, and you can't put a price tag on that," Sherwood tells me. "I also can't put a value on the lessons that I am teaching my children as they watch me build my company."
Like anything worthwhile, being an entrepreneur isn't easy. All of us, however, can be grateful for the opportunity to pursue meaningful work and build a life we love. What more could we ask for?
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