Three Big Lessons of My First Year in Business as a Women
By Roshini Rajkumar
If anyone sat me down at the beginning of 2006 and told me how challenging being my own woman in business was going to be, I might have bailed right then.
Sure one small business owner warned: "You will be making constant calls to get business. Even the people who want to hire you and say they'll call soon need prodding." He went on, "So imagine the follow-ups you'll need to do with the lukewarm?"
Another successful business couple, who had just celebrated nine years on their own, urged me to make sure I stick with it for at least a year or two before I plan on seeing major results. They told me they made some dumb mistakes their first year in business.
Armed with some of this wisdom, I just knew I wouldn't be a sad statistic. But I also, perhaps stupidly, thought my experience would be different.
What I discovered over the first six months of owning my S-Corporation is a combination of my gut feelings toward this launch and the experiences of the seasoned entrepreneurs with whom I brainstormed.
There is nothing more rewarding, frustrating, anxiety-producing, or cool as owning my own business. When I hand out my business cards, I get great feedback on the design.
Terrific! I went through several printing estimates and two on-site visits with my finalists to even decide who would do my business cards, letterhead, and envelopes. The "R" of Roshini Multi Media is the graphically reproduced version of the "R" of my legible signature.
I wanted a clean and simple black and white card design on easy-to-write-on stock. My printer suggested I make the "R" red as my accent. Perfect! Red's my personal accent color anyway. The rest of the writing is black.
The stationery matches the cards. I print my marketing materials and invoices on the letterhead for now. The printer said doing separate invoices wouldn't be cost-effective at launch. Entrepreneur couple backed that up by saying most invoices could be e-mailed. Great! A few hundred bucks saved.
So I was off and running prior to the final printing of my cards and stationery. Every day is different. This was also the case during my career in television journalism. But this is so different. The task of creating my own daily structure is both freeing and scary as hell. As most entrepreneurs know, the day could start at 6am or 10am but end deep into the night. Weekends are both more enjoyable and more time to work on the business.
So what do I wish I knew pre-launch that I know now? Three major areas of lessons learned. The biggest one is wishing I had more capital to alleviate some of the financial anxiety. I am self-funded. That means I've pulled from all sorts of personal areas to finance the company. I wish I had saved more pre-launch to get me through some of the rough patches.
I also have come to learn how valuable mentors and established small business owners are when it comes to feedback, enthusiasm, been-there-done-that kind of advice. Knowing that going in might have helped me set up regular meetings, weekly or otherwise, with these people pre-launch and during those first few crucial months. Some mistakes already made may have been avoided.
Additionally, launching with a couple established clients would have provided a possible cushion. This is easier said than done for me, coming out of TV news. Some consultants I know went out on their own after working for big firms. They had the possibility of taking clients with them. But perhaps I could have researched and landed a couple key accounts prior to launch. I'll never really know, and I can't worry about it now.
The entire journey has been and is a great learning experience…about myself, business systems, and the interconnectedness of our world's separate parts. And similar to other areas of life, one probably needs to land her own successes and failures to get a complete experience.
I do hope my adventure can help illuminate the way for others.
About the Author
Professional yet full of personality, Roshini Rajkumar brings an extensive knowledge base to Roshini Multi Media. A former TV news reporter and anchor, Roshini has covered all kinds of news events, launched an investigative unit, and hosted talk shows on television and radio. Additional information can be found at http://www.roshinimedia.com
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