Next month marks 1 year since I left my full-time job as a consultant to early-stage start-ups to become self-employed. For the past 11 months I’ve worked full-time at Money After Graduation to build a financial literacy company that helps millennials pay off debt, save money, and invest to build long-term wealth.
As a small business owner, the past year has been more chaotic, challenging, exhausting, and rewarding than I ever anticipated. Before I switched to self-employment, I thought I understood the demands of entrepreneurship – after all, I had just spent more than a year working with entrepreneurs running start-ups at every stage, from concept to execution. However, I wasn’t prepared for many of the challenges I experienced in my first year of business.
Nevertheless, Money After Graduation proved to be a successful venture, and I expect to continue to build my company for many years to come!
Why we need female entrepreneurs
When you think “start-up CEO,” you might picture a young male entrepreneur, but today, 45% of small business enterprises are owned or partially owned by women. This represents a 20% increase since 2013.
Women entrepreneurs bring unique and valuable businesses to the market – particularly when they create start-ups for women. Many of you might already be familiar with the story of Sara Blakely, who grew Spanx shape-wear into a billion-dollar empire, but some of my favorite female start-up stories are those like Clue, the period-tracking app that not only helps women get a better understanding of their own bodies, but is collecting useful medical data to improve female healthcare.
Female entrepreneurs do not have to start female-oriented businesses (Money After Graduation is proudly gender-neutral), but since women represent half of the global population, they should represent half of the business world as well!
Considering a small business of your own?
If I could give advice to any woman starting her own business now, it would be not to make the mistakes I made! Below are some tips that will help any business owner succeed with their new venture:
Prioritize your goals.
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my first year of business is not knowing what I was working for. What I mean by that is I didn’t have a clear idea of what I was striving for, let alone how to get there. Defining your goals in terms of revenue or customer acquisition will help direct your actions in the short term, and ensure your business is on track to deliver exactly what you want, to you and your customer.
Write a business plan.
I didn’t write a business plan for my company until I was more than halfway through my first year of self-employment. Having a business plan not only helps you clarify your own goals, it lets you summarize your mission and operations to interested parties, such as investors. Use your business plan as a roadmap to build your business, and review it as needed as your business evolves.
A Small Business Advisor can help you identify strategies to improve current operations, and make suggestions to bolster your bottom line. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the resources available to you that will help make your business dream a reality.
Separate business and personal finances.
Much to my accountant’s dismay, I mixed personal and business finances for most of the first year after I incorporated my company. If I could go back in time and change one thing about starting my business, it would be opening a business bank account and using that exclusively for business expenses as soon as my business was active and running. It’s much easier than trying to sort through a pile of receipts, which brings me to my next point…
Keep good books.
Just like you track your personal income and expenses, you should track your business income and expenses. Understanding and monitoring your finances is key to making sure your business succeeds!
Building a business is full of ups and downs, but creating and contributing something unique to the world is personally fulfilling and profitable. Let’s encourage all young entrepreneurs, men and women, to pursue their business dreams!
This post was sponsored by TD. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.