Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the SharpHeels Small Business Summit at The Foshay Tower in Minneapolis. When Melissa (Allee Creative’s CEO) announced she was speaking on a panel and invited the team to join her at this event, I was ecstatic. Almost all my work experience has been for small businesses, which means I have had a first-hand look my entire life at what it takes to be an entrepreneur (the good, the bad and the ugly). Although I am still unsure if I want to be an entrepreneur, being surrounded by these women who were ambitious, passionate, smart and determined was far more rewarding than I had thought it would have been.
I learned so much of what it takes not only to start, maintain, finance and grow your business, but just how to be a better professional. Specifically, a better female professional. So today, I will share with you my major take-aways from this event and hope that you too will find them as inspiring and encouraging as I did.
Ask for help
This was one recurring theme throughout the day. Women often have a hard time asking for help, especially when starting a small business. We think we can do anything and everything. We want to be independent. Delegating is an important aspect to being a small business owner.
One way to make it easier is to think about how much your time is worth. As a business owner, your time is worth $100 an hour. If anyone can do the job for less than $100 then you should not be doing it. This goes for all professionals. You are not an expert in everything. Stick to what you are an expert in and ask for help or delegate the other parts.
Have a support system
This is something that is crucial for being a business owner and a professional. Your support system can come from all different places and can change on a weekly basis. These can be your mentors, your family or your friends. Your mentors should be those who you admire and look up to; those whose minds are bigger than yours and who force you to think bigger. With being a young professional, I found this advice to be very eye-opening. Creating a support system that is made up of many different people with different backgrounds and specialties has already helped me in my career.
One thing to note when accepting advice, you do not have to take every bit of advice to heart. Think critically about what advice you’re getting, if it doesn’t sit right with you, toss it out the window. When you do implement advice, find a way to measure it. By measuring it you will be able to tell what worked or didn’t work.
Plan with the exit in mind
Another common theme, plan with the exit in mind. Although they were speaking specifically about starting your own business, this can also translate to your career. When you start a small business, you must have a plan b, plan c, plan d all the way to plan z. Because you never know what could happen.
The unexpected happens, and you have to be able to deal with it. If you have a plan in place, you will be better off than getting caught off guard. There are certain things in your business or professional life that you will not be able to control. It is what it is. Now let’s move on.
How to deal with your emotions
Owning your own business can be very emotional. You become attached to it, you love it or you may hate it. You may wake up in the middle of the night crying and thinking you’re going to quit. But don’t.
Fall to your support system, tell them you need help and that you’re not doing well. Make a “coffee date” with yourself for a specific time in the future. During this coffee date think critically about how you’re feeling, what benefits you’re gaining from this experience, how happy you are and how successful you are. Then make the decision. Continue these “check ins.” This takes the immediate emotions of stress out of the equation, which will help you make the best decisions.
Owning a business is not easy, but you still have to just show up every day. There will be problems, but those problems are just opportunities in disguise.
What is your best advice for female professionals or small business owners? I would love to hear your input!