Four Things Female Entrepreneurs Should Know Before Entrepreneuring
How do help we keep the women in business statistics growing?
Every day is Women’s Day if you’re a woman but today in particular, internationally, women are given a podium for self-pride and respect. It’s also the perfect opportunity for everyone, men and women, to give good old fashioned shout-outs to the women that inspire them and make an impact on their lives.
Fun fact, according to the NSW Department of Industry (sorry, snooze), in 2014 one in four businesses were founded by women, a significant growth from one in six since 2011. Personally, we are excited to watch this stat continue to grow even more rapidly as the playing field levels out for women.
Tanya Davies, NSW Minister for Women, Mental Health & Ageing (AKA legend), gave an inspiring pep talk to a women in business event yesterday and reiterated what we feel is the significant hindrance to women starting businesses - confidence and self-belief. Two key factors for us at the inception of our business. So, in light of IWD we’ve put together our top four tips we wish we had known before tackling the beast of founding and running a business.
Heads up: We opened Chicken and Chips Casting in 2015 - we were 26 years old, ready to shake up our industry and we wanted to make a difference. We were not prepared for what was to come.
Here we go…
Imposter Syndrome is real, people.
Thanks to John Lee Dumas’ Podcast Entrepreneur’s on Fire, we learnt (albeit late) of a new, yet wildly unknown condition, called Imposter Syndrome. If you haven’t heard of it (and this is not an Oxford approved definition) it’s the feeling that you are not entitled to be an expert in your field and you don’t have the right to educate or speak up about something related to your technical skill or service.
Immediately, this resonated with us but we didn’t know that this feeling was common among other business owners.
Equally unsurprising as it is startling, in 2017, 30.3% of future business founders are hindered by a lack of confidence (StartUp Muster Survey), and let’s be honest it’s likely the majority of those people are women. By nature, women are notoriously bad at backing themselves and we believe it’s not warranted.
Let’s be real, if you’re thinking about opening a business, chances are you have the technical ability to do that job. Trust that. That’s a start. Then you need to work on trusting yourself.
We have managed these waves of Imposter Syndrome by learning not to over analyse too many scenarios (yes, it’s hard!) and learning to let things go when they don’t go the way we planned. We’ve managed to build our self-confidence by biting the bullet and putting ourselves out there more. Ultimately we’ve minimized the impact these waves can have on our productivity.
We’re not trying to scare you – we just want you to be aware of it and know that you're not alone and you can overcome it. It is in no way a reason not to do your thing and be a kickass girlboss.
The bigger picture is the better picture
It’s not enough to just do your business and be the best. There needs to be a long term, grander scale vision for the business but also how the business and your personal life will work together, and ultimately in a way that you can be your happiest self.
As women, we need to think about these things. It’s fundamentally hands down much more logistically challenging for women in business. We’ve met and know women in our lives that are in high powered jobs that feel they need to choose one or the other; career or life. We are busting some balls and we say you CAN have both - we just need to be way better with time management, prioritising and forward planning and we need support in doing so.
But for us it was the C word…
Apart from having a very general idea about when we would like to have children (maybe), this wasn’t an out loud conversation until after we launched the company.
The reality is - this is important.
Steph had a baby two years into the business - this added a more challenging aspect to our plan. We soon realised though, that as daunting as it was, we never once questioned what we were doing because the reality is, we are in far better positions as business owners to have children and continue working than we ever were before. The flexibility of doing your own thing is truly a game changer and very empowering for us.
All we’re saying is be sure to consider the big picture in every small step you take. Don’t underestimate the power of a piece of butcher’s paper. We used this tactic to nut out timelines – short and long term plus business and personal goals. You’ll quickly see how things will and won’t work and you can adjust your plan along the way.
You’ve gotta have guts (but don’t be scared)
We aren’t attempting to remove all the fear in starting a business here. We go through the emotional rollercoaster of owning a small business regularly - sometimes we go through stages of crippling worry or fear. But what you shouldn’t underestimate is how often you will be able to channel these feelings into the HUSTLE. It will be daunting but you have to be gutsy every day to keep growing and learning and getting better (including on the weekend…cue margarita).
Nothing comes easy and assume that if you’re not feeling uncomfortable about something, it’s probably not going to make a big impact. You’ve got to stick your nose out and take a risk sometimes. Most of the time - these risks will pay off and you’ll wish you took the plunge sooner.
Most importantly...trust your gut. Always. To grow, you must action things - everyone is guilty of procrastinating sometimes but don’t fall into the trap of letting it paralyse your process.
We chose to lay low when we first opened and it hit home hard when we added overheads like a lease and staff pay checks and weren’t actively increasing revenue - we relied a LOT on word of mouth and referrals. You may not be a numbers person but you’ve got to be able to see that’s not sustainable.
We realised we just can’t fly under the radar forever. You have to put yourself out there, have an opinion and outwardly fight for your business and what you represent. There are three words that shake us to our core, but we urge you to read up, ask questions and be prepared (for the love of god) for… New Business & Networking.
It’s terrifying and overwhelming and for all women who crush new business and networking we salute you (and please help us!). While we continue to grapple with the new and improved more gutsy versions of our 26 year old selves (with a lot further still to go), we cannot underemphasise the importance of being prepared for this.
Girl, you need guts and we fully believe you’ve got them!
Owning a business means running a business
We are fully aware that seems like an obvious statement, but for the first 6-12 months (and sometimes still now) we used to laugh that we spent the majority of our timing running a business and just some of our time actually casting (which is what we do best).
No one could’ve prepared us for running a business - and one of us has a degree in it. You get thrown in the deep end on the grandest scale, with everything on the line.
Hot tip: do not underestimate the value of all the help you can get!
As work picked up (and we got the hang of things) this became less of a ‘thing’, but still to this day we are learning and likely spending half our time on business development.
Be prepared to become a ‘businesswoman’ and own it.
Historically, we know that men have traditionally held the throne and been the brains behind a lot of businesses but it makes us all the more proud to be a female found and led business.
We are constantly challenging ourselves to do and be better and we are genuinely bloody stoked and proud of ourselves for how far we’ve come in three short years. We would love to see more women rise to the challenge, take it by the horns and absolutely crush it. It’s deeply satisfying and rewarding.
So, whatever it is you are doing or want to do - go and do it! Despite some of these scary things, we would never look back. We know that we are 110% happier living our best life because let’s face it - it’s way better being your own girlboss.