I had a wonderful evening with a group of dynamic women participating in the POWER: Chicago conference. The venue was Sandra Rand’s home in Hyde Park that provided an intimate setting with a candid opportunity to discuss entrepreneurship. About 40-50% of the women are entrepreneurs with the remaining interested in pursuing their own business. Ms. Rand was an excellent moderator who leveraged her experiences in both corporate and entrepreneurship. Hedy Ratner was a thought leader who discussed the benefits of the Women’s Business Development Council. The panel discussion included Pat Pulido Sanchez of Pulido Sanchez Communications, Danielle Hrzic of Gourmet Gorilla, and myself. A quick summation of our core points:
- “Do your research. And then do more research.” Creating a business plan and understanding the market is essential for entrepreneurs. You need to understand who will utilize your services and products. You need to understand your competition, and the impact it will have on your business. You need to understand all the costs associated- in addition to all of the time it will occupy to launch your business.
- “Take risks, but know that you can always say ‘No’ if it doesn’t feel right.” Entrepreneurs are already taking risks by starting something new. This may include leaving a corporate position with high pay, numerous benefits, and a corporate reputation. I recommend that if you are making bigger decisions, to create smaller bite size decisions that you are comfortable with that will eventually lead you to your goal. It’s rarely a life or death situation.
- “Make time for work/life balance.” It’s a gentle reminder that spending time away from your work is good for the soul and can make you more productive with your business. This includes spending time with family and friends, exercising, meditating, and taking up a hobby.
- “Failure is not an option.” Entrepreneurship is such a humbling experience. Pat spoke about how you learn something from every situation that occurs. She mentioned that some of her career changes that seemed like failures were opportunities for bigger and better things. If you lose your biggest client, view it an opportunity to seek a better client. You learn to be flexible and nimble and create your own opportunities.
Personally, I feel that none of the discussion included rocket science or brain surgery, but it was reinforcement and encouragement that it IS viable to have a successful company and enjoy the fruits of your labor. There’s nothing worse than listening to someone complain day after day (even year after year) about how unappreciated and underpaid she is with her current employer when she has the capacity to be the CEO & Chair of the Board of her own company.