Editor’s Note: This post is part of a project in which we are exploring women’s relationship with money. You can read the first installment of this series here.
Women often report money-related anxieties and stress when it comes to running a business. Many are lucky enough to find support through mentors, partners and networks. But there are countless stories of women who travel the path to success alone.
We asked solo female entrepreneurs for their best tips on how they tackled financial challenges when they didn’t have anyone to turn to for help. Here are tips that can be learned from their stories.
1. Roll up your sleeves and do the research.
As Maria Simone, a business and funding strategist and speaker/author from Huntington Beach, Calif., found, you might not succeed the first time you try. But it’s what you learn — and how you apply those lessons — that can make all the difference.
“I started my first business with my own money and I quickly became alarmed at the big ‘sucking’ noise it was making. Before long, I was putting every financial resource I had into it. By the time I sold [that] business, I was practically bankrupt,” she recalled.
Rather than accept defeat, Simone educated herself on the basics of raising capital for a business, with the hope that knowledge would prove to be powerful for her. It wasn’t a perfect fix, but it certainly helped.
“The first time I spoke to someone about investing in me, I was sick to my stomach. I never realized I had such issues around ‘deserving’ money and had an incredible learning experience as I moved past that,” she noted.
2. Remember you’re doing this to make money.
Sarah Walton, CEO of Better Way Moms in New York City, found herself experiencing similar feelings of doubt while trying to figure out how much to charge her clients.
“I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I toyed with my rate quite a bit. Is it too much? Is it not enough?” she said. “Finally, I just went for it. I charge what my knowledge and time are worth.”
What helped Walton take that leap was recalling the importance of another role she plays in her life.
“[I had] to remind myself that contributing to my family — by helping other women, no less — was important. I had been the breadwinner for years, and not asking for what I [knew I] was worth was just not OK,” she said. “This wasn’t easy. And while I can write about it with confidence now, it took me quite a bit of wrangling with myself to get here.”
3. Know that you’re the best person to do this.
Even with knowledge and drive to help you along, it can be difficult for some to trust in their ability to build a profitable business — a lesson Katie DeCicco, CEO of Denver-area business Celebration Saunas, Inc., learned when she started her company after seven years in the infrared sauna industry.
“I have been involved with every aspect of the infrared sauna industry, so I knew all the avenues to take when starting my company. Within two weeks, I generated my first sale. [But t]he most nerve-racking thing in the world is living on cash flow,” she told us.
That is when it becomes important to remind yourself of your own competency, DeCicco noted. “From time to time, I still get concerned about slowdowns in the industry. But now that we are moving along and I know that I am doing all the right things, I have faith that the next sale is coming — and it always does.”
Michelle Dunn, an author and columnist from Plymouth, N.H. used research to successfully overcome anxiety regarding her rates and book price, in a similar fashion to Simone. But she also had to be sure to highlight her merits — to herself.
She said, “I had to remind myself that I am very knowledgeable about my topic, and that it is a topic for which there isn’t a lot of information available. Because I did all the work, research and learning to be able to then share this information with people, I should be compensated for it.”
While many who wrote to us did so in hindsight, several women told us how they continue to handle their ongoing struggles with money. Tomorrow, we will focus on them.
For all posts from this project, please click here.