Tag Archives: Female Entrepreneur

In a continuous effort to counter-balance my fear of failure, I like the experience of “lack”. I’ve been a solopreneur for more than four years now and slowly slowly I see signs that the business is out of the nappies and has become a kindergarten child, ready to stay on it’s own with her other small business friends during the day. When I come home all she needs is a bit of checking on (bank balance), a bit of nurturing (invoices and business development) and a bedtime story.

I “practice poverty” by letting essentials such as coffee run out, living with an empty fridge, not having printing paper, wearing old shoes and asking the hairdresser for an extension of payment terms.

I would not say that my company is “successful” or broke even yet. Compared to others our growth is slow and this year I took on a job to cover my living expenses. Still, we send out invoices every month and we have a number of regular clients. The client base is becoming bigger and to my amusement former clients send us their wives and husbands.

I love to be the “family coach”. As a career woman I believe that the interests of the career-driving and the caretaker role need to be more balanced in most marriages. I also believe in long-term relationships and I know that with most of you I will be contact for a lifetime. Still, there are days when I feel like a failure or when I am concerned about ending up under a bridge.

Running a business requires that you confront your fear of failure every day.

When you “practice poverty” you watch all your resources better. In the first-world we are used to luxury and constant access of resources. Switzerland is highly productive because of stability, access to resources and a highly skilled workforce. Here, we cannot imagine a life where you cannot afford to buy anything, not even a cup of coffee. My aunt thought I was kidding her when I told her I did not have money to buy coffee last month. She saw that I was paying easily for our holiday in Italy but she could not see how I live without a certain standard.

I invest in having a cleaning person so I can use my time for the business, my loved ones and myself. I have months where I cannot pay the rent or run out of money to buy coffee. I admit, I was never good with saving money. I always had enough since I went to high school. In order to improve my business cash flow I had to learn to manage my finances better. Maybe you are in a similar situation and profit from my advice below.

I have summarized my learning in “seven cash flow habits for solopreneurs”.

1) Budget vendor expenses and pay in advance

I tend to create a lot of work around myself. In corporations usually my team would be happy to be involved in several projects but in my own business my supporting freelancers can be overwhelmed with the amount of work I ask them to do. About two years ago I started to pay them in advance either on a quarterly or yearly basis. We sometimes stop to work before the end of the year as we are out of money. I had to abandon projects due to a lack of budget.

2) Invest in your Business Priorities

Once you have clarity about what your clients need and how you can help them be more successful you will also know where your priorities for investment should be. Invest in those and abandon the rest.

3) Pay for Survival Tasks

You have survival tasks in every business such as invoices, accounting, making appointments, following up on conversations with prospects, digital media marketing and web-design. Not all of these tasks are your business purpose so you should pay someone to do them for you.

4) Maintain a Wish Book

To avoid impulse purchases I am writing all my wishes into a wish book. I used to buy a lot of books and many haven’t read yet. I don’t do that anymore. I used to have clothes that I did not wear. Not anymore. And I had a lot more shoes.

5) Date a Cook

In Switzerland dining out is very expensive and one of my good decisions was to date a man who loves to cook. Even though my cooking skills have lessened we enjoy a good home-made dinner almost every night. I am thankful for this.

6) Nurture your Spirit, Body and Soul

When we feel fulfilled either through our work or our contribution to the world or through little acts of kindness every day our spirit, body and soul are nurtured. When we feel full of love we do not need consumption to comfort ourselves.

7) Abandon Credit Cards

It’s almost impossible to live without a credit card in our society but I only have a business credit card now so I need to justify my expenses to my accountant. My bank does not give me credit either. So I cannot overspend. It helps.

 

I am moving out of my comfort zone with this post showing you one of my biggest weaknesses and how I handle it. Let me know if it helped you and if you have any questions.

 

Nine budgeting ideas for the start-up entrepreneur

Powerbreakfast #1

In March I had the honor to talk to a group of highly motivated female entrepreneurs at the #Powerbreakfast of the Powerhouse Zurich (Follow @Powerhouse_ZRH).

A key quote they selected was “Your Mood defines your Business”.  I know that mood can be influenced and as an intercultural executive coach I help you to reach a state of “relaxed attention” from where you can follow through your plans while at the same time keeping your energy level. However, being an entrepreneur I can tell you that I also sometimes fall out of my state of relaxed attention into either creative-overengaged–workaholic or phlegmatic-I-cannot-deal-with-all-of-this-at-the-same-time (staring into the empty space as if I was looking at someone). 

I had to accept as a manager, leader and business owner that there will be times when I am losing it.

Did you ever feel like you lost the overview, lost the focus or lost yourself?

Usually this is the time where I consult either my male coach or my female coach (depending on what I need). No, you are not calling your father or your mother, because honestly when you are beyond 40 you deal with this sh** professionally. And then once you paid your 350 CHF per coaching session and worked out your limiting beliefs and a few not-very-helpful-behaviors you get back on track. And then (whoo-hoo) success flies at you at rocket speed. (It’s true…after every crisis my business takes a leap).

In my talk on 5 March 2015 I went through nine rules I have developed over the last three years of running my business Global People Transitions GmbH.

They have been kindly summarized by Mirka Schaller in this one-pager. Let me know if you have questions.

 

Powerbreakfast #2

Global Mai 13 _072

As you know I have been an entrepreneur for 1.5 years now. Even though I started to prepare the steps needed for launching my business back in 2010 already. It has been a journey with a lot of learning and I would like to share my 10 lessons learnt with you. You will also find a presentation covering this topic here.

 

1) Prioritize your clients. Use 70% of your time for delivering an outstanding product or excellent service to your clients. 20% of your time you should network with current and future clients (prospects), 10% you need to do accounting, hr, marketing etc.

2) Build and maintain your network. In the beginning work with your personal contacts before you start traditional business development.

3) Analyze your niche. Understand your competitors, their products or services and price structures. Define your USP. Define your ideal costumer.

4) Market, market and market. Spend time and money for Marketing, especially in a good (static) website. If you have zero money start with Social Media.

5) Get the basics right. I know too many business owners who have never made a business plan. If you do not know the meaning of cash flow and break even your work is a hobby not a business. Cash flow is a constant challenge in the first two years so learn to manage your invoices and hire an accountant. >> Work with your business plan.

6) Limit your financial risk. Start with a limited financial risk by opening a limited liability company. If you want to sell handmade socks you might not need to do that but in general it is better to protect your personal assets. Most business advisors will tell you that you need to be able to survive the first year without income.

7) Learn everything about running a business. Study all areas of a business from Accounting to Social Media Marketing. Then when you have done it once you can outsource the areas you have no passion or patience for. LEARN all the time. CHALLENGE yourself by asking yourself questions outside of your comfort zone.

8) Find your strategic “friends” in the market and build partnerships. Build strategic friendships with business owners you like and who support and motivate you. Find likeminded peers and use each other as a support group

9) Plan what you give in exchange for “favors”. Offer time exchange and internships if you cannot afford to hire someone. Respect other people’s time commitment and aim for balance between giving and taking. BTW: Giving usually comes before taking.

10) Enjoy your profession and built your life around your business. Get a cleaning person and other support for your household, childcare, shopping because this will give you more freedom to focus on your profession. I try to shop online only (but I regularly buy my groceries in the neighborhood). I have started to minimize expenses but I love to buy gadgets that are tools for my work.

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