I write about entrepreneurship a fair amount. It's a large part of my day-to-day life and finances. …..And I don’t mean to exclude the guys, but it’s still very hard (even in 2016!) to walk a mile in a woman’s shoes. Sure, things are getting easier, but it never hurts to hear real life girl boss advice from those in your position who have been there before. I floundered a lot in my first year as a solo business owner, and in my times of need it was the wonderful women around me, (many of whom are featured in this article!) that lifted me up and encouraged me at my lowest moments when I was doubting myself.
Yes, it’s hard to walk in a woman’s shoes, particularly if you’re successful, driven, make a lot of money, and want more than what you were told it’s okay or acceptable to have.
That’s why all of the pieces of advice from the women below are so necessary and beautiful. I hope you find just as much inspiration in these 40 pieces of advice as I have! (And yes, some of the pieces of advice are from me!)
Real Girl Boss Advice from Other Lady Bosses (You're Welcome)
#1 –Start Now
“Don't wait for an idea to be perfect or fully formed to commit to your own business. I see too many people get caught up in “someday” because they want everything to be perfect when they launch. It's not going to be perfect, no matter how much time you spend delaying, so don't delay, dive in, it's the absolute best way to start and keep moving forward to the next level.” ~ Stefanie O’Connell, Solopreneur & Author of The Broke and Beautiful Life, Stefanieoconnell.com
#2 – Start Small
“Start very small and test your idea in the market to see what works. You may be surprised that your best idea doesn't take off and an idea that you didn't think would be a hit is a huge success. Take time to figure your business out. Give it a solid year or two to get things going. Use trial and error.” ~ Natalie Bacon, Financegirl
#3 – Give Yourself a LARGE Financial Buffer
When you still have that full time job, be sure to supercharge your savings before you make the transition to being your own boss. I wrote in this piece how one of my biggest mistakes was not saving enough.
#4 –Plan Ahead
“Create a plan and start your business as soon as possible. This is the hardest part…. You can revise your plan and vision as you go, but you have to start somewhere.” Natalie Bacon, Financegirl
#5 – Legalize Your Business
“An LLC is the default for most solopreneurs and small businesses unless there’s a strong reason to form some other kind of business entity. An LLC protects your personal assets from being taken in the event you are sued, or if you were to accrue debt against a lien or credit card in the course of running your business.
However, this protection is only in place if you treat your company as a distinct and totally separate entity from yourself- so think twice and do your research before you deposit any client checks or affiliate commissions straight into your personal bank account.” ~ Christina Scalera, Attorney for Creatives, ChristinaScalera.com
#6 – Lean On Your Network.
I wrote about the importance of this, here.
#7 – Find Amazing Mentors (More than one!)
“One thing I wish I'd learned before getting started was to look for mentors. I wasted a lot of time and left a lot of money on the table because I tried to “figure it out myself” instead of connecting with others who'd already done what I wanted to do. If I'd found mentors earlier in the process, I'd have been much further along, much more quickly.”~ Ashley Gainer, Freelance Writer, Ashleygainer.com
#8 – Let Your Mentor Motivate You
“Being an entrepreneur is challenging and there will be many, many tough days. Having mentors that have already accomplished the very thing you're working towards will always keep you motivated when the going gets tough.” ~ Dani Pascarella, Founder & CEO, Invibed.com
#9 –Network as Much As You Can, As Soon As You Can
“I wish I knew how important making connections was… because I would have started doing it even sooner. It's amazing how my businesses have grown organically by my efforts of just getting out there, attending events and meeting people. Cultivating those personal relationships has gotten me farther than really anything else has up to now.” ~ Tiffany Alexy, Co-Founder, Divvy Investments
#10 – Just Do One Thing
This is a piece of advice from yours truly. Read all about it here.
#11 – Support Others
“My best piece of advice for women who'd like to have their own business is to network as much as you can. Too many new business owners see others in their industry as competition. However, that should not be the case. Instead, you should make friends with others in your industry as you never know what may come from that connection.” ~ Michelle Schroeder, Blogger @ Making Sense of Cents
#12 – Get It In Writing
“You don’t have to spend a lot to get your business in tip-top legal shape. Using a contract template prepared by an attorney (not a legal info site) is much better than any of the stuff you’ll try to pull off Google and piece together yourself. Plus, you’ll save yourself hours of time and avoid sleepless nights knowing you have protected your business with a legit contract.” ~ Christina Scalera, Attorney for Creatives, ChristinaScalera.com
#13 – You Have to Earn the Right to Flexibility
“I think one of the toughest lessons I had to learn was that if you want the freedom that comes with running your own show, you really have to earn it. When I first started out, I wanted to be able to enjoy my newfound flexibility by taking breaks in the middle of the day, trying out new coffee shops around town, etc. While it's still a work in progress, I am learning to create structure and a schedule so that I could be the most productive, then reward myself with some free time.” ~ Jackie Lam, Cheapsters.org
#14 – Schedule In Time for Administrative Tasks
“I can easily fall behind with admin paperwork during my wedding season. I've found it really helpful to block one day every month as my catch up day. I don't take any sessions, meeting or even check my email – this day is spent solely up getting caught up on behind the scenes tasks.” ~ Laura Barnes, Photographer, LauraBarnesPhoto.com
#15 – Get Comfortable Becoming Your Own Best Friend
“When you are your own boss and work from home it gets lonely…Very lonely. It always sounds like so much fun to work from home, but you miss the social life that you have in an office setting with other employees…. learn to eat lunch by yourself, laugh at your own jokes & celebrate the highs with yourself when something awesome happens at your business!” ~ Shelby Steckbauer, Photography, ShelbyRaePhotographs.com
#16 –Have a Lifestyle Plan
“Have a lifestyle plan, not just a business plan. I allowed my business to take over other aspects of my life which cost me my health (I was temporarily paralysed and had a cancer scare at 30!) and time with my family….If it doesn't fit with my ideal lifestyle, I don't do it.” ~ Kylie Travers, CEO, Occasio Enterprises
#17 – Get Organized
This goes without saying, but especially if you are taking a side business full time, you can save a lot of time and energy by setting up processes that will serve you for the long term.
#18 –Be Unapologetically Passionate
“All “bosses”, ladies and men, know they need to lead but parts of leadership include finding a way to keep employees following you even when they know every time you walk in the door change is coming. Whether it's innovating or changing process, it's not always fun and can appear as chaos if you are not careful. As a woman, there is the additional hurdle of overcoming the stereotypes that come with change. We are not indecisive, we are not making emotional decisions, and we are not ” mean”. I had a man once tell me to stop being emotional in a meeting. Because I am a woman, my passion to make changes made me “emotional” in his eyes.
Since that day, I have continued to be passionate but I'm clear and concise. I don't apologize for passion in times of winning or in times where lessons need to be learned and change implemented.“ ~ Gayla Huber, President, IntegriShield.com
#19 – Don’t Be Afraid to Publicize Yourself and Your Business
The toughest lesson I've learned is that you can have the greatest product or service in the world, but it doesn't matter if no one knows about it. As women we're often socialized to sit back and wait for someone to notice all of our hard work, and we're told that it's not nice to “brag”. But you've got to promote your business and shout it from the rooftops! …Your customers need or want what you have to offer, so make sure they know about it.” -Jackie Beck, creator of the Pay Off Debt app
#20 – Enjoy the peaks….
And go easy on yourself in the valleys. Just like winter, they're always coming.
#21 –Make Sure the Domain You Want is Available
“Before you name your business and obtain your business license, make sure the URL you want is available. Often times we do this last and then someone already owns the URL we want, so we have to come up with an alternative.
Its really annoying when you have to try to track down the current owner, and they want to charge you $10,000 or some other ridiculous amount!” ~ Octavia Gilmore, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Creative Juice
#22 – Get an Accountant
“Find an accountant who you feel comfortable with and who understands your business. If it's your first time stepping into self-employment, you are probably going to have a lot of questions and want some help getting, and keeping, your bookwork organized and on par with your goals. “ Angela Nelson, Blogger @ The Work at Home Wife
#23 – Learn When to Say No
“Don't take every offer. It's easy to underestimate your earning potential or stay in the scarcity mindset to keep taking on every offer that hits your inbox. It's important to say no and not over-extend yourself. I often reflect on the Warren Buffet quote: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” ~ Erin Lowry, Blogger @ BrokeMillennial.com
#24 –Embrace Growth
Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and always be hungry to learn and grow. Take the challenges that come up (and there will be plenty) with a grain of salt and realize it's all part of the process and an AMAZING learning opportunity to do something better next time.”~ Shantel Khleif, Owner, Imagine Media Consulting
#25 –Communicate Clearly with Everyone
“Good communication is key. You can deescalate annoying client issues, get what you want, and navigate through tough sells with good communication. Always use “I” statements, set up communication boundaries from the start, and never let the client see you lose your cool.” ~ Edi Wade, Owner, Trove Studio
#26 – Send Thank You Notes
It's a small gesture but seriously no one does this anymore and it makes SUCH an impact.
#27 – Exercise and Sleep are Just as Important as Anything Else
“When I first started Invibed, I worked myself so hard that I neglected areas of my life like exercise and sleep. I figured the more hours I put in, the quicker I'd find success. But that mindset is unhealthy–entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint–and eventually I crashed. I was working all the time, but wasn't getting anything important done during about half of those hours because I was so fatigued.” Dani Pascarella, Invibed.com
#28 – Learn How to Set Boundaries
“Your habits follow you no matter what venture you're involved in. If you were a workaholic who had problems saying “no” when working the 9-5, you most likely will have trouble setting boundaries between work and play when running your own business.” ~ Jackie Lam, Cheapsters.org
#29 – Choose Positivity
“It's all about focusing on the positive. I know that sounds super cliché and it is, but I love the hustle. I love the grind. For many, it would be too much. Sometimes it does get overwhelming, but then I think about all the positive in my life.” Tiffany Alexy, Divvy Investments
#30 – Test Out a Lot of Different Things to See What Makes You Most Productive
Another bit of advice by me. Read how to make yourself more productive here.
#31 – Get Out of the House
(Giiiiirl, I feel this piece of advice. So important if you're a solopreneur!)
“Schedule work dates with friends! Working alone and from home can often be much hardier than people think. It's wonderful to set up work dates with a friend – meet them at a coffee shop, bounce ideas off each other, chat things out and most importantly get a break from being at home.” ~ Laura Barnes, Photographer, LauraBarnesPhoto.com
#32 –Keep Your URL Simple
“Keep your URL short and simple because you want to limit typos if someone is trying to access your site or email you. There is nothing worse than someone thinking that they emailed you, but you never got it because they misspelled your email.” ~ Octavia Gilmore, Found and Chief Creative Officer, Creative Juice
#33 – Don’t Put Off Doing Your Taxes
“That just makes a stressful time more stressful.” ~ Angela Nelson, Blogger @ The Work At Home Wife
#34 – Do a Legal Name Search
“Re-naming or re-branding your business can be challenging, expensive and even full of stress. I’ve watched too many business owners fail to budget for and invest in their intellectual property. It breaks my heart when I have to tell a client that I can’t register a name for them because we’d be admitting infringement, and worse, now they need to change their name or re-brand before they get that fateful cease and desist letter or lawsuit.
All this can be prevented if you invest in a professional legal name search with a trademark attorney when you’re still a bitsy business flying under the radar.” ~ Christina Scalera, Attorney for Creatives, ChristinaScalera.com
#35 –Triple Your Projections
“Everything costs 3 times as much and takes 3 times as long as you expect it to. Take whatever projections you've made from both a cash and a time standpoint and triple them before you get started.” ~ Dani Pascarella, Founder & CEO, Invibed.com
#36 – Unplug. No seriously, do it.
“I have to schedule ‘off days' during my busy season. I'm a wedding photographer, so I don't normally have a traditional weekend. Saturdays and Sundays can often be my busiest days of the week. If I don't schedule an ‘off' weekday every so often I'll work a few weeks straight without a break.” ~ Laura Barnes, Photographer, LauraBarnesPhoto.com
#37 –Make Learning a Priority
Finally, make learning and growing in your business niche a priority. If you have a little success, don't let that stop you from being a student. Constantly stay on top of trends that affect your business (e.g. social media)….read books, listen to podcasts, and network with other people doing what you want to do (e.g. attending conferences).“ ~ Natalie Bacon, Financegirl
#38 – Own the Fact that You Will Have A Breakdown at Some Point
“At some point you will want to throw in the towel and question everything you are doing with all your “crazy” dreams and goals you have set out to conquer. You will cry on the phone to your mom in the middle of the night, you will want to go work for someone else knowing you have little responsibility.
But then you will come too and remember you are doing what YOU love.” ~ Shelby Steckbauer, Photographer, Shelby Rae Photographs
#39 – Act Like a Boss
“If you want to be the boss, you have to act like the boss. For most of us, that means taking on a leadership role, learning to delegate tasks effectively, and never shying away from hard work. It amazes me how many people want to be self-employed but can't muster up the work ethic to work a full day without supervision. Never forget, being an independent worker and “being the boss” means doing your best even when no one else is watching.” Holly Johnson, Blogger & Freelance Writer, Club Thrifty
#40 – Limit Distractions
You'll find more tasks and projects than you could reasonably execute. You can always optimize some aspect of your business or expand into a new direction.
As a business owner, your job is to pursue the best opportunities for your long-term business goals. Don't chase distractions that pull you off-course, even (especially!) if those distractions seem like easy pickings. Your time, energy and focus are valuable; don't undersell these.” ~ Paula Pant, Blogger, Business Owner, & Real Estate Investor, Afford Anything
#41 – Hire Help
“Hire help. If you are just starting out keep track of the tasks that don't require your personal touch. Then, when you can make the investment, hire an assistant. Because you took the time to outline your duties, delegating should be a smooth process.
Accept that you might have to “hover” for the first few weeks as your assistant gets up to speed. But shortly, you'll wonder how you ever survived without that extra set of hands.” ~ LaTisha Styles, Solopreneur, Young Finances
I think this article is the PERFECT end to solopreneurship month. So, cheers to all my bad ass lady bosses, side hustlers, money making bloggers, and sister friends.
You CAN do it, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.