Whether we are moms or aunties, we obviously know how to nurture the young beings in our lives so they will grow and develop properly.
In other areas of our lives, where we are trying to grow, sometimes we hold back.
Today’s case in point: a business we are trying to start on the side of an otherwise comfortable life.
Generally speaking, if you are the sole breadwinner in your situation, like Jackie, this post is not for you.
Jackie is a single mom with a full time job that covers her living expenses while she is starting her business on the side. Women like Jackie tend to move faster and make progress more quickly.
Even though it is not easy, it may involve taking on debt or cutting back uncomfortably, Jackie feels empowered to spend money. She doesn’t have to negotiate with a life partner.
She knows that she can reasonably expect her existing salary to continue while she gets the foundation in place for a new venture.
Finally, Jackie knows that replacing the income from her current job is the key to making the transition to working for herself, so she’s more open to taking risks to get there sooner.
This makes for very busy days and weekends, of course. But it is an almost perfect combination of cushion and pressure cooker to add up to a huge advantage, even though it doesn’t always feel like it.
This isn’t just my opinion.
Why do you think the fastest rate of business creation, by a long shot, in the United States is coming from African American and immigrant women? These are 2 sectors of women in the US that are likely already working a day job, see opportunity in entrepreneurship, and need to show progress quickly on their side business because they don’t have much of a resource cushion.
They are showing the rest of us the way.
This post is for women starting a business from a place of abundance - a dual income situation, or a situation where one partner makes good money and the household doesn’t really “need” a second income.
In other words, a nice cushion.
On the one hand, that sounds like a dream scenario, right?
Well, it isn’t always, and especially for women.
The first point is obvious. It can undermine a sense of urgency. Entrepreneur magazine says this of people (not just women) with a cushion:
You’ll naturally consider your startup more of a hobby than a living, and you’ll be less motivated to nurture it to fruition. Rather than being motivated by the sink-or-swim nature of sole entrepreneurship, your safety net will keep you from fully mentally investing in your enterprise.*
The second point is more gender specific. Women usually deal with some level of guilt, self-doubt and fear. I'm not saying that's you. But if it rings a bell, read on.
Let’s say Viv has worked part time for years, and her spouse’s income pays the bills. She prioritized a flexible part-time schedule to accommodate her family's schedule. As her kids get older, she’s ready to scale her business, or perhaps start a new one.
In this case, Viv has more hesitation and reluctance to spend money on the business than Jackie does, because that would mean spending the money that her spouse makes, and likely some of their savings, on her business.
She also has to claim more of her time as her own, time that her family is used to her spending on their priorities.
Those can be hard conversations to have so Viv tries to save money by doing almost everything herself, at odd hours and late at night.
This leads to a tough cycle:
This isn’t growing your business on the side, this is sucking the enjoyment out of a hobby while keeping it on life support.
I’m projecting here, because I was Viv in many ways. I’ve interviewed dozens of women about their business dreams, too, and there are a lot of Vivs out there.
I also see women in dual income relationships who make good money do the same thing. The family takes amazing vacations, but suddenly when it comes to spending money on a VA to support her in a fledgling business, they can’t afford that.
I’m not here to tell anyone how to run their life, hobby, side business, or finances. If you are feeling frustrated or discontented, I am here to encourage you to make your choices and enjoy them, and not let creeping expectations undermine you.
I have heard women in this cycle express guilt over “not growing fast enough”. It’s a catch 22, they don’t spend money on the right things to help get them to where they can grow, or even fail, faster.
Wait, did I just say fail? Yes, I did. No one wants to think that their business is going to fail, especially if they are spending money that they don’t feel is “their money” on it.
But the reality is, sometimes money is not the problem. It’s the wasting of TIME that is the real robbery.
You do want to find out what is wrong with your idea sooner rather than later. If you have a cushion, there is a danger of spending 2 years “working on a business idea” that is bound for failure, rather than spend 6 months in an inexpensive process testing that idea, and move on or adjust if the first version “fails”.
When a side business is a good thing.
There is nothing wrong with a side business. I just talked to a friend in real estate about video for her business.
She said, "No, no! Don't tempt me, I don't want to be any busier than I am now."
That kind of clarity is healthy.
The problem is when our ego (and possibly others) tells us that isn't good enough, we harbor expectations around it being more than that, but in reality we don’t feed it enough - we starve it’s growth.
This is a recipe for discontent. Been there, done that.
1) Accept and enjoy that its a side business, part time for now. Have fun learning and experimenting.
2 ) Go for it.
I encourage you to consider #2.
If you are fortunate to live in the US, sitting on cushions created by education and decent income, and you want to build a business, consider taking on a little more risk to move faster.
I live in Mexico City and have traveled extensively.
One reason I live here is because it is much less expensive for me while I build my business. I chose not to pursue alimony during my divorce even though there was huge disparity between my earnings and my ex-husband's income (partly due to the Viv effect I just described above).
I started over with no source of support outside of savings, side work from online video editing, and fledgling revenue from some new ventures.
I only mention that to let you know I'm walking my talk, I'm not "shoulding" you and suggesting you do something I have not done, and continue to do.
Mexico City is filled with small entrepreneurs and thousands of family businesses. It is inspiring but it is not glamorous. Prices and wage are quite low. The retirement safety net does not exist unless you work for the government or big companies for years - those jobs are hard to get. It is long hours and a lot of hard work to make ends meet. The banks are terrible.
I also currently share my life with a man who grew up here without much money or good social connections. In Mexico, you need one or the other to get ahead.
Living outside of my country, seeing life here through his eyes, has shown me that even with the barriers (racial, gender) that still exist in the US and other developed countries, first world women have incredible opportunities and resources at their fingertips that women in other countries do not.
This is what the immigrants to our country see clearly. The American Dream for them is not home ownership. It is the freedom to start a small business in an environment where the rules are clear, their investment is protected by a functioning rule of law, and they are supported by a healthy banking system.
This is not meant to guilt anyone in the US. I'm also not saying that American women are automatically better off in every way. I like the way Latinas make time for friends, family and leisure. I don’t miss the hyper-consumeristic, over-scheduled pace of my homeland.
It’s simply to give you some perspective and encourage you to consider taking on a bit more risk to move faster.
Because quite frankly, ladies, the world needs you out here, sooner rather than later.
So if you are ready trade in a little cushion and grow your business, check out this post 3 Smart Steps for Women to Move a Side Business to Center Stage.
Dear Ladies: I've talked to many women, I think we are all a little fatigued with the Sell Sell Sell approach online and in our email inboxes these days.
Sometimes its hard to know what to do, especially when you have a lot of questions and the main one is "Where Do I Start?"
Before spending a lot of money on an expensive coach or complex online course with thousands of other people, be sure you are ready.
But how do you know?
One of the first things we do when we want to start a business is look for advice and guidance. This is natural.
But just having a lot of questions does not mean you are ready for most “how to start a business” programs. Let me explain.
If you are looking on the internet, you will quickly come across advice, programs and coaches with huge budgets to advertise. (That, by the way, is not me. Like you, my budget doesn’t have a bunch of zeros behind it!)
There are some terrific resources out there for sure! You are likely on the email list of several of them. I know I am and I’m grateful for them.
The only problem is this: the failure rate for new businesses in the US is at least 50% in the first 5 years.
One big reason new businesses fail is that they run out of money, partly because people spend money on the wrong things, first.
Things like expensive complex business programs with a zillion other people, or high end coaching packages.
I’ve interviewed dozens of women with business ideas. One of them, we’ll call her Andrea, signed up for an expensive, complex business program online. She fretted about it and didn’t want to tell her partner or family.
She dove in, became overwhelmed, and quit, joining the estimated 40- 90% of people who enroll in online courses and don’t complete them.
Not only that, she felt guilty for having spent the money.
This is the opposite of how you should feel when you take the first step toward starting your business.
Why did Andrea have this outcome in a program where so many others take their ideas to the next level?
She wasn’t ready.
The key is you have to be ready.
How do you know?
You DON'T need an expensive multi-week program with thousands of other people or an executive coach to help you answer the most basic questions:
If you answered NO to 4 or more, than the answer is no, you should not sign up for an expensive coaching package or business education with a zillion other people.
The odds of your feeling lost, overwhelmed and quitting are high. I have talked to several women who have had this experience.
I don’t want that to be the outcome of your first baby steps with your DreamBiz idea!
You can find out the answers to all of the above in about a month, without spending a ton of time and money you don’t really have.
How do you find all of this out in an organized way, when you are working full time and don’t have a budget with lots of zeros and money falling out of your pocket?
The DreamBiz Test Drive miniseries - A FREE, 5 part video miniseries of short videos and some helpful downloads that walk you through the 5 steps to lay a very SMART foundation of the most important pieces of your business.
The total series is about 30 minutes long, you can binge watch it on your lunch break if you like.
We talk about you, your customer, your network, your Boss Mindset, how to visualize your business, and how to take your idea on a playdate.
You can sign up here: DreamBiz Video Miniseries
THIS IS WHAT IT IS NOT:
This is not a quickie offer to get you into an expensive coaching package or business education program with thousands of other people.
We are not selling anything with this offer at the end of your miniseries. There is no invitation to a sales webinar coming your way tomorrow.
If you want to join our small online Facebook group community after your miniseries, awesome! Feel free to ask us for the invitation, we would love to have you but we won’t be bugging you to join.
You won’t receive a deluge of sales emails from us or from other people - "influencers" - selling a course for us. Seriously, is that what you gave your email address to them for? So they could help yet another person sell something to you and profit from the referral?
We will put you on our email list to keep in touch. If at any time you don’t want to hear from us, simply unsubscribe or let us know and we’ll do it for you.
Thanks so much for reading through this. We hope you enjoy the miniseries if this seems like a fit for you.
Oh, and like I mentioned, my budget doesn’t have a bunch of zeros behind it. The wealthiest coaches dominate the online ad space - have you noticed you only see the same 1 or 2 coaches or companies in your feed?
I’m not complaining, that’s business, right?
One way you can help our mission to let women know they have everything they need right now to explore the important fundamentals of their business idea - for free - is to share this with a friend who might benefit.
Here is the page to sign up for the Video MiniSeries
All my best to you and for you -
The full DreamBiz Test Drive course is closed right now (and by the way, is not expensive or crowded with thousands of other people, either.) We will respectfully keep you posted on future course opportunities later in the year.
I'm on a call with Neil Murthy, a successful entrepreneur and mentor in Houston. I have my list of questions, most of which focus on prioritizing goals in the very early stages of a business.
Like a good mentor, he takes that line of questioning and blows it up to the stratosphere. He says, “I want you to step back from this week, month or even year. Your biggest goal should be that which you cannot complete in your lifetime. What impact do you want to leave behind? Then you work back from there.”
We may think that’s crazy talk, but in reality, it is a truth that is simply asking us to be intentional about our biggest life. When we die, it’s not like all trace of our life here on earth is wiped away immediately, right? What would you like to see still up and running the day after you are not? If your biggest goal doesn’t make you a little bit embarrassed to talk about, its not big enough.
If you have tried and failed with starting from today to map out a path to a big awesome long term goal, you are not alone. Our fear based brain undermines us quickly with overwhelm and doubt. Instead, start with the end in mind.
A note about being realistic about your goals:
For your biggest dream, go ahead and be crazy. I'm not saying that to be trite. There is a practical reason for this that I explain in a minute.
If you want to be an astronaut, put it down. If you want to be president, an elite athlete, a movie star, the best doctor on the planet, a real estate mogul - go ahead and write it down as if it has happened.
Then work backward in the way we’ve described above to what you should be working on today to make that happen.
Does this mean that by starting at 40 or 50+ years old you will actually be able to become an astronaut in 10 - 15 years? Probably not.
But don't let it stop you, and here is why:
In the process of breaking open what that big dream contains, you will discover the do-able thread that isn’t really about becoming an astronaut after all. It will likely be about something related to science, or teaching, or adventure that is eminently doable. There are thousands of steps one must take to become an astronaut, its in the journey that you will find the true outcome reveals itself.
Will I ever really own and run a gorgeous retreat center in nature? Maybe not, but that dream is rooted in some of my core values, and so I trust that letting it dictate some of my direction will lead me to meet the right people and take the right actions.
It provides part of the motivation that keeps me investing precious time and money into building a business when I could settle for living on a beach somewhere, work a lot less and scrimp my pennies until Social Security kicks in.
That wraps up the first step to setting the stage for Midlife Transformation - figuring out where you are going. Why doesn’t everyone do this? Why do we lose enthusiasm? Because its scary and involves risk. I talk about that in this blog post: How our Cave Woman Brain Keeps us Stuck.