Last night, I attended my regular meeting of women business owners (NAWBO) in the South Bay. I find whenever women gather together to be a very healing process. We introduced each other in an interview fashion. One of the questions was why we started our business.
For me, ten years in Human Resources Development for four different companies was enough. I wished to have my own company. But wishing was four years away from doing it. At Northrop and Rockwell, I “paid my dues.” I worked hard, and became a “great” management trainer by reputation. I never did my job well in order to get another job. You must do what you’re doing well right now for its own sake.
Because I did what I did very well, my first contract came from a past co-worker at Disney. Her boyfriend was bidding on a large training contract and asked her if she could recommend someone who could design a supervisory skills program. She recommended me. At this point, risk came into the picture. The money from the contract would come in a little at a time. If I strictly budgeted myself, (this was the real risk, since I had never done that before) I could live for four months (not including Christmas and Chanukah presents)…Hmmm. As my supportive yet logical male friend put it, “if you can’t market yourself in that amount of time for more contracts, you shouldn’t have your own business anyway.” He was right. I did get another contract—two more actually—and the rest is…
Not history yet. I have never liked roller coasters, but I now consider ups and downs part of the ride. Within a year, I had the money I needed to invest in the business and never looked back.
Here are 7 steps I advise women to follow to start their own consulting businesses:
1. Assemble your credentials to be as impressive as possible.
- Get a degree from somewhere impressive or work within a very reputable company, or get endorsements from reputable people.
2. Train yourself to communicate well.
- Take an acting course, or enroll in Toastmasters.
- Call me—your “Speech Coach.”
3. Pay your dues in your chosen field.
- This may take time—or it may not.
4. Be a great secretary.
- You will be your own for a while, having to manage all the little things yourself.
5. Write down your goals—with due dates.
- Example: To have 10 corporate accounts by (DATE).
6. Be prepared, so your risk-taking is calculated—never uncalculated.
- When you “leap” off the mountain, make sure your safety line is secure.
7. Live your life as though your life depends on it. It does!