Six hundred thousand new businesses will be started this year. That number would have meant nothing to me just a few months ago, but today that number fills me with hope. Maybe this year I will be part of that statistic. I am starting a business and I know next to nothing about the process. With only the advice of others and my own research to guide me, I hope to open the doors to my very own business.
This article (and the ones to follow) will document my own personal entrepreneurial journey. I want to include you all in this adventure of mine, so please feel free to send questions and comments our way through Twitter using the hashtag #AskLioness.
Four years ago, my husband and I had made a decision to cut down on our expenditures and live more simply so that I could quit my full time soul-sucking job. I would be home for the kids and take time to figure out what it was that I really wanted to do with my life. In turn, after five years, he would have a chance to do the same soul searching while I became the primary bread winner. Currently, I am a part-time stay at home mom, part-time secretary and part-time writer, but I only get paid for one of those jobs. We’re now reaching the end of my sabbatical and it’s time for me to start making some cake.
A few years ago, when I first started kicking around the idea of starting my own business, I was confronted by family and friends who immediately raised some very difficult questions. LLC or a Sole Proprietor? How would I file my taxes? What are the legalities? These questions were so overwhelming that I never even sought answers and I just back-burnered the whole issue.
Recently though, I covered a local TEDx event for Lioness magazine. There, I had the opportunity to hear entrepreneurial guru Angela Lussier speak. She talked about her own experiences in working “for the man” and what she said rang so true with me that I found myself scribbling down notes madly.
She talked about quitting her job and loafing on a hammock on her porch. She talked about how making greeting cards and curtains helped her to discover what she truly valued, creativity and freedom of expression. She spoke about the importance of giving yourself space to just be yourself. She also reassured us that if we remained true to who we are, then other people would follow us willingly.
When she talked about “embracing your weird” she had me hook line and sinker. I was spellbound as she talked about using your unique abilities to create a great product and ultimately to create success.
A few nights later, I found myself still thinking about Lussier’s talk. After Internet stalking her on Twitter (@AngelaLussier) I decided that I had better order her book, “Who’s With Us? From Wondering to Knowing if you Should Start a Business in 21 Days.”
I had often been perplexed by this question, and now that I’m thinking about it, maybe that was always the true roadblock. It wasn’t the nitty gritty of which type of business designation I should choose, the real problem was that I wasn’t sure if entrepreneurship was for me. I wasn’t sure if I had anything to offer.
Should I start a business? Would I be happier working for myself or working for someone else? Do I have what it takes? When I read “Who’s With Us,” I suddenly had advice from someone who had felt just like I did.
I was waffling, trying to decide whether entrepreneurship was for me when I read: “What drove me crazy was the fact that I was so young and already miserable at work.” I was reminded of those insurance cubicle days and I knew right then that I didn’t want to go back to that grind. I’d rather create my own grind, one with better hours and more flexibility, and more opportunities for creativity and purpose. She was right. I’d rather take the chance at doing my own thing than go back to working as a round peg in a square hole.
Through worksheets and probing questions “Who’s With Us” helps you see if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Lussier leads you through each individual aspect of owning a business and helps you identify the skills you have and what skills you need to develop. This book won’t help you decide what type of business you should start, but it will help you learn where your strengths and weaknesses are and help you brainstorm ways to strengthen those skills that are lacking.
One particular worksheet helped me to understand how to use my strengths. I picked out some strengths and weaknesses out of a long list of qualities. My strengths include: Orderly, Straightforward, and Lively. My weaknesses include: Idealistic, Impatient and Naive.
I recognize that I shoot from the hip a little too often and I have lots and lots of great ideas but I follow through on very few. The solution is to use my strengths to solve my weaknesses. I’m orderly, so why not write down my idealistic ideas and revisit them once a month? I’m straightforward but I can also be naive, so I’m making a rule for myself to never agree to anything until I’ve had a chance to look at all the angles (which also solves the impatience issue.)
Lussier reminds us, “One of the hardest and best things you can do for yourself is be honest with yourself about what you are not good at.” She goes on to say, “Our weaknesses don’t go away because we have recognized them. They require care, attention, and a disciplined approach to managing them.” Recognizing your weaknesses might arguably be the most important step to business ownership.
The lists and the worksheets reminded me of all the positive skills I have and gave concrete advice for how to make the most of those. Important aspects about myself suddenly became clear, for example, I love supporting other people. I don’t mind mundane activities like phone calls and scheduling, in fact, I actually enjoy them! I like taking care of those aggravating little tasks so that other people have the time and space to devote to their dreams. I used to think that made me flighty and unfocused because I never became a doctor like I thought I should. Turns out, I just like learning about what other people are passionate about. My gift is that I create space for people to achieve their goals.
Now that I have more awareness of what my weaknesses are, I can take steps to address them. And now that I have more awareness of what my strengths are, I can fully own them. I now have a clear idea of what I can offer the world of business.
Step number one is completed. Should I start a business? Yes. I am capable of it, and I even have some ideas of what kind of product I can sell. Next up, attack the big questions of establishing a business like, LLC or Sole Prop? What to name the business, and how to market it?
Stay tuned to find out what next steps I tackle! If you have questions about starting your own business, or about my journey, please tweet me directly @rachelarojas or @lionessmagazine. Use the hashtag, #AskLioness so everyone can follow along on the conversation! To learn more about Angela Lussier, her book and its launch party, visit www.domakebusiness.com.
Rachel Rojas is a freelance writer out of Springfield, Massachusetts. She writes local interest stories for The Westfield News, business articles for Lioness Magazine, and dabbles in short novels in between assignments. Despite the fact that she loves all things intellectual, she has a soft spot for trashy romance novels and pretty clothes.