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How to plan for successful self-employment as a female boss

We all dream of starting our own business, and many of us successfully do. But let’s first look at what we are trying to achieve.

If you understand where you want to be and how your business will help get you there you have a much better chance of making this happen.
So, how does your ideal day look in five years time?
  1. Do you want to change the world? Do you want to do something that changes lives but still earns you plenty of money? Or is satisfaction and making the world a better place more important? Should you be considering a co-op or non-profit start-up? Maybe you should try volunteer work first to help you decide what’s important to you and build up contacts in these sectors.
  2. Are you looking for a second income stream to compliment your job? Your initial investment of money and time might be lower to achieve this, rather than a full-time salary replacement. There’s also less pressure to do well straight away. You never know, if it takes off you could quit your full time to focus on your ‘side project’!
  3.  Are you looking at quitting your job to look after kids? Or are you looking to improve your work/life balance? If so, you are not looking for a Monday to Friday 9-5 and will need hours to suit or that fit with your plans, so consider something that you are sure you can fit around your ideal schedule. A ready-made business like a franchise, or an online business might be ideal for this, as you won’t need to put in the initial hours to get it off the ground.
  4. Are you happy to commute/travel or do you want to work from home or in one location? This will rule some options in or out.

The important thing here is to focus on what you want to achieve and set some hard rules before you get stuck on a business idea. If there’s an idea you’d love to do but in terms of time or money it won’t achieve what you want it to, then in 5 years time are you going to be satisfied doing it? Don’t quit your job or spend time and money starting something that will end up not making you happy!

Right, now we know why we are going there, let’s decide where to go.

Here’s four more important things for you to consider:
  1. What am I good at? 

    This might seem like an obvious question – if you have a job friendly skill or a profession, like a photographer, doctor or teacher. It might be that you have a hobby that you could make profitable such a craft or sporting pursuit? It might be that your strengths are less obvious, like resourcefulness, people skills, research etc. and perhaps suited to many different business types you wouldn’t have thought of. Be honest with yourself here, whilst starting a business is an opportunity to re-invent yourself, you’re not going to grow a new set of skills and characteristics overnight. A good idea sometimes is to ask people who know you what your strengths are. It’s often easier for them to define.

  2. Make sure you are determined and passionate.

    Whilst you need many qualities to be a successful entrepreneur, you won’t succeed without these two. They are related, if you can find something you love doing it’s much easier to put in the energy, time and effort you will need to make it a success. Think also about what you might have to sacrifice to get where you want to be, is your free time important to you, how soon do you need a fulltime income? Often what you are giving up might be as important as what you are gaining.

  3. Don’t get stuck on being original.

    Dragons Den would have us believe it’s all about that one killer idea and once you have the light bulb moment the rest is easy. The reality is success comes from how you run your business not what you do. It’s much better to find an idea that is already working for someone else or somewhere else and then concentrate on doing it well rather than spend years trying to come up with something no one else has tried. If no one is already doing what you plan to do, then there are two possibilities: no one else ever thought of it or, the people who tried it didn’t make any money – just consider which is more likely before you dive in. The best business ideas are already proven, ready to start now and simple!

  4. Is it simple?

    The more complex your plans, the greater the chances that something won’t work. We often think that the more complex a plan the more we can charge; however, the best businesses are simple yet provide your customers with something they want, something they will pay for and something that makes a profit. Try to remove all the unnecessary stages or processes from what you are planning, to leave a simple, reduced risk, profitable business model that won’t need hundreds of customers or hundreds of thousands of pounds in investment to start making money.

If you want more advice and inspiration, or want to network with thousands of professionals and test your business idea then then look no further than The Northern Business Exhibition on 17th and 18th March at Manchester Central. It’s completely free to attend, and is packed full of keynotes, seminar, suppliers, support organisations, skills workshops and sound practical business advice. See what's on, and then get your free ticket online!
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