Introduction from Alana:
This week, as you may know, is Global Entrepreneurship Week (“GEW”) – a worldwide annual celebration of entrepreneurs and their startups. In conjunction with GEW, today, Wednesday, November 19, 2014, is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. It provides an opportunity to celebrate, engage and empower female entrepreneurs across the globe.
As such, I couldn’t resist featuring my dear friend, Michele Markey, in today’s post. I had the privilege to work with Michele for nearly four years at Kauffman FastTrac where she continues to oversee all programs, products and content development. A successful entrepreneur in her own right, Michele is also the author of the acclaimed book, SheVENTURE: Success Strategies for Female Entrepreneurs.
In her book, Michele highlights the key components of starting up a business – the heart, the head and the hands. She helps the reader see a way forward to get her company up and off the ground. It is a wonderful volume and provides both the tactical and the inspirational means a female entrepreneur needs to realize her vision. (And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I was honored to serve a contributor to Michele’s book in the area of, what else, Networking!)
For today’s post, I asked Michele to share her thoughts on creating a business vision… without further ado, I give you Michele Markey and encourage you to take part in a GEW event or two going on in your city.
Guest Post from Michele Markey, author of SheVENTURE:
Over the years, I have been fortunate to be able to engage directly with many strong, visionary leaders; many of whom are women. They are living their dreams and fulfilling their goals. I admire their strength, tenacity and unfailing belief in themselves and the businesses they lead. They are inspiring, each uniquely talented with well-developed skill sets.
What makes these female entrepreneurs so successful? Without fail they are solid strategic thinkers, focused decision makers and above all, true to themselves and their visions.
Creating a vision is not as difficult as it may sound. A vision is simply giving voice to what success will be at a particular time in the future. As you create your vision consider the following:
- How much time will you have to devote to building and running a business? One of the biggest myths about business ownership is that it affords the owner a lot of unfettered free time and schedule flexibility – that they can achieve work/life balance by having control over their own schedule. While there may be some truth to that, it is also true that the vast majority of successful entrepreneurs work well in excess of 40 hours per week. Think about the commitment your type of business will require. For example, if it is important to you to have nights and weekends free then owning a brick and mortar retail establishment may not work for you. You may, however, find that having an online retail business works quite well.
- How might business ownership impact your family? Whether you are single or married, a parent, daughter, sister etc. think about what effect business ownership might have on your family. It is important to note – this is not necessary negative. Many female entrepreneurs will tell you that running their own business was one of the best decisions they ever made. Whether through increased earning power, freedom and flexibility of schedule, or charting their own path, many women report that being a successful entrepreneur has allowed them to serve as a role model for others.
- Do you have the necessary education, skills and background to build and launch a business? If not, what skills will you will need to acquire? Don’t worry if there are some areas where you feel less than knowledgeable. For example, many people are unsure of their abilities when it comes to understanding basic business financials. Don’t dismay! You are not alone. There are plenty of resources available to help you get up to speed. Everyone has something to learn when launching a new endeavor.
- What skills and talents will you need to have provided by others? As an example, many entrepreneurs engage attorneys for legal advice and accountants for financial guidance. Think about what skills you bring to the table. Find ways to use your natural abilities to best support the business and hire outside expertise for areas where you have less knowledge.
- Where do you want to live? If your dream is to own a little beachside boutique and you currently live in Des Moines clearly you have a location issue! Think about the type of business you envision for yourself. Where might that business flourish?
- How might you fund your business? Will you be able to bootstrap (using personal savings, loans from family and/or friends) your concept? Give some thought to how you will raise initial funds to get your business started.
These are only a few things you need to consider as you develop a vision for your business. Move forward, knowing that you won’t have the answers to every question – you will figure it out “along the way.” And while this will guarantee some missteps, the end result is often an unanticipated variation of the original ideal in a perfected form.
One thought to “Creating a Business Vision”
Great post! Congrats on the new book Michele, and your contribution Alana.
I echo that the most important step in creating a fulfilling business is matching the business with your expectations. Start first with your available resources, including how much time and energy you’re willing to invest as well as how much money. All are essential for success, and as you point out Michele, identifying the constraints up front will help you shape the ideal business for you.
I’ve one other thought, maybe especially helpful for women who still are culturally projected into more home keeping and family care duties, and perhaps you’ve addressed this in your book. Acknowledge that your available resources are likely to shift as the life around you also evolves.
For example, if now, while your family is young, you have limited time to invest in your business, but you hope to increase your focus on business when the kids hit high school, you will want to choose a business that allows for this expansion. Anticipate being primary caretaker for your aging parents? Then you might want a business that allows for contraction when life’s additional major responsibilities emerge.
What I love about entrepreneurship is that it allows for business adaptations around life changes. The real myth is that one can sustain a specific level of dedication to the business despite every surrounding shift. Adaptability is one of the most important skills for any business owner as there are always reasons to evolve and assure relevance; relevance to your life, your market, and your business.