ESSENCE Festival speaker Melinda F. Emerson tells you how to go from employee to entrepreneur.
You’re sitting at your desk dreaming about starting a small business, but there is one problem standing in the way: your day job. Many women fear walking away from a “good job” and health benefits to launch a new venture because of a sketchy-not-so-solid plan and little personal savings.
When you develop a strong plan, you won’t be as fearful. If you are serious about creating a new business that will change the world, here are six things you must have in place to succeed as your own boss.
1. Develop a life plan.
Be clear about your personal and professional goals before you begin drafting your business plan. Make sure the enterprise you are starting will give you the life you want to live. Once you have a solid concept for your project, determine whether or not you have the time, money, energy and discipline to turn that into a thriving small business.
2. Review your financials.
Take a hard look at your monthly expenses and identify areas to cut in order to start paying for health insurance, which could run $300 or more a month. You’ll need at least six months emergency savings, 12 months of living expenses and the start-up funds for your business.
3. Find a business model.
Set in place a clear blueprint for how your company will make money. Look at your industry to get some ideas. Will you be direct selling and building a network marketing business, doing home shows, going the e-commerce route or establishing a retail storefront? Keep in mind that you may adopt more than one strategy.
4. Hone in on your niche.
If everybody can use your product or service, no one will. You want to stand out by serving a particular niche customer. Develop a detailed customer profile. Anyone can start a business. You need to specialize in solving a specific business problem.
5. Nail your online strategy.
Your Web site will be your number one sales tool, so invest in building an effective one. Unless you are starting an e-commerce business, an investment of as little as $1,500 can get you a great Web site that you will be able to maintain yourself. Make sure you have an irresistible free offer on your site to capture e-mail addresses. MailChimp, Constant Contact and Infusionsoft are good options for e-mail programs. Then build your social media community using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest.
6. Start as a side hustle.
Initiate your transition by bringing on clients 12 months before leaving your job. It’s much easier to be strategic about how to grow the business when you’re not completely consumed with where your next check is coming from.
This article was featured in the July issue of ESSENCE, on stands now.