November is National Entrepreneurship Month, so I thought I’d share my experiences as a female entrepreneur. Being in business for yourself is a big challenge with many risks but also with many rewards.
First, my experiences with entrepreneurial family business interests go back to my childhood.
My parents left clock punching when I was in late grade school. I grew up thinking about what I could do independently, although I also worked in government and private business.
I’ve married into an entrepreneurial family and spent the last twenty-seven years working with my husband in our small law firm. We currently have interests in four other forms of self-formed business that contribute to our income in varying degrees.
In short, we have more business ideas than time or life to create and manage!
Creativity and motivation to break away and be independent are at the heart of entrepreneurship.
I love this about being a female entrepreneur!
Finding and filling a need for customers or consumers creates a wonderful and rewarding career.
If you are considering starting a business, let me encourage you to start by analyzing the need you want to meet with your product or service. Analyze it in conjunction with your skill set and personal interests. You'll likely be more successful if you start there instead of simply starting with what you want to do.
To be a viable business and produce income, your interests must be secondary to the consumer needs you want to serve. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what you do; it simply means that some things you might love doing may have limited marketability. Entrepreneurship tries to find that sweet spot of converging business owner interest, market interest, affordability, and adequate demand.
As a female entrepreneur, I’ve struggled with taming all my creative interests into something for which the market will actually pay money. Some of my highly enjoyable interests don’t translate into profitability for business. For example, legal services are easy. My husband and I have training, education, experience, and skills that allow us to give legal advice and charge for it.
However, other interests vary in their economic success. Grandparenting A-to-Z is a great example.
If we were going simply on economic rewards as a measure of the success of this business interest, we would probably pull the plug. We are at the front edge of online business marketing to elder members of the marketplace. It will take time for this business to be a large income producer.
What of other forms of reward?
We know we are meeting a need. Grandparents care deeply about their grandchildren and struggle with broken families and culture wars. Right now, our reward comes in the form of comments and emails from those who consume our content, views of our videos, and consistency in our email open rate.
These measures tell us we are having success with our content. So we continue, and we keep developing ideas. One day, we’ll hit on the right idea for measurable financial rewards. Fortunately, we can finance our lives via the law firm, so we have the luxury of continuing to produce the Grandparenting A-to-Z content.
Our wedding venue business is yet another entrepreneurial experience. It is growing steadily and producing income. Over time, as the community becomes more aware of what we offer, it will build into a successful business meeting our city's needs. Different businesses and different reward buildings.
If you, as a female or grandparent entrepreneur, have an idea you want to bring into the business world, do some homework first.
Test ideas with friends and business colleagues.
Dip your toes into the marketplace slowly, and don’t give up your steady income until a second business can support you. Which brings up the idea of risk.
Being an entrepreneur means you absolutely must tolerate the day-to-day risk of business ups and downs. You WILL face financial, emotional, logistical, production demands, and risk factors. We all must decide how much of this type of stress we can tolerate.
Cliff and I wouldn’t trade our independent, self-employed status for an 8-5 time clock, regardless of security and risk factors. We’ve been through hard times and times of plenty. We’ve enjoyed the benefits of determining our own schedules and the pressures of working beyond them when necessary. But it isn’t for everyone.
Another note on my experiences as a female entrepreneur:
I’ve found that almost all of our business ideas stem from our solid family values. Our love of family is second only to our love for God. This deeply rooted value has helped develop our law firm, which serves elders in estate planning, Grandparenting A-to-Z, which serves grandparents, and even the wedding chapel, which serves young couples starting in marriage.
What values do you hold dear that might guide business ideas and decisions?
As we celebrate and recognize National Entrepreneurship Month, I want to encourage those who work as we do and punch your time clock instead of someone else’s. It isn’t easy, and you’re most likely working more hours than you would for a regular employer, but you are a unique breed and deserve applause and praise!