Perhaps you've been lusting after the lives of successful female entrepreneurs while feeling like you could never get to where they are. While there are certainly those who have gotten to that point with help from things you might not have access to (a trust fund or big-time connections to potential investors, for example), many thriving business women would admit their success ward has won, and that with a lot of diligent work plus knowing the crucial factors to consider before starting a business, you can also potentially turn your career dream into reality.
Just ask Joanna Waterfall, founder of Yellow Co., an organization devoted to empowering women to find their purpose and do good via an annual conference (this year's takes place August 22nd and 23rd in Los Angeles) and membership services. The former freelance graphic designer began her business about six years ago, when she found herself seeking more outlets to inspire her both creatively and as an entrepreneur. With this venture, she's able to help motivate those who find themselves in a similar position — whether that's someone wants to turn their side hustle into their main gig, advance their little idea into a big business, or just get out of a career rut — by teaching them tips from inspirational female founders and CEOs as well as other helpful experts.
That said, Waterfall herself has a wealth of knowledge to share when it comes to starting your own business. Ahead, find the five factors she believes you should consider if you've been debating taking the leap — from practical financial advice to tapping into your motivating force.
Save, Then Save Some More
This one might seem obvious, and that's for good reason. After all, you've gotta pay those bills somehow, right? And if your new venture comes at the cost of leaving your secure nine-to-five, you'll want to be able to do so with the least financial stress possible. Waterfall suggests you first get very real about how much you're spending monthly. "Don't go by exactly what your bills are, take a good look at your spending each month for the past six months and find the average of what you spend month to month," she advises. "Before you quit your nine-to-five, you'll want at the minimum three months of your monthly spending saved up, ideally six months, and if you're a super saver, or know that it's going to be awhile before you can start paying yourself, save a year's worth of spending."
Know Your Numbers
Waterfall notes that once your savings are secured, another financial necessity is knowing what it's going to take to launch your business — and maintain it. "Oftentimes startup founders are visionary types and don't always have a great handle on the realities of numbers and accounting," she explains. "Either way, you've got to know your numbers and have a path to profitability."
So how do you know? "Make sure you've been side-hustling long enough to have an idea of what your business can make in a month," she says. "Take a good look at your business growth and get a realistic idea of when you'll be able to start paying yourself." And she adds that even if you're good with numbers it might be work bringing in an expert to have an unbiased eye on the books.
Have A Support System And Community
The process of starting your own business is not always going to be rainbows and unicorns (sorry to tell you). And according to Waterfall, it can be even harder if you don't have a support system in place. "When we work a nine-to-five job, often, we have a built-in set of friends and coworkers who we see every day, work with, and relate to," she explains. "When you leave your job to go out on your own it's important to have a community of people who you can call in the middle of the day when you have a problem, people who will meet you for brunch after you've been up all night, people who will stand in your corner and help you achieve your goals and keep you sane!"
Don't have friends or family members who you feel can really relate enough to be that support? That's where networking and female-empowering organizations like Yellow Co. can be a huge help. "This is what I love about our community and conference," Waterfall adds. "We need human to human contact, and being an entrepreneur can be very isolating."
Check-In With Your Motives
Have you stopped to ask yourself why you're anxious to ditch your secure job to go out on your own? "Is it because you hate it, or is it because you love what you're working on so much you'd do or sacrifice anything to make it work?" asks Waterfall. "Make sure that you're not running away from something, but rather that you're running to something. This helps your mind be much more clear when it comes to making decisions and setting your business up for success!"
Enjoy The Journey
Taking the leap might seem like the hardest part, but according to Waterfall it's just the beginning of a serious of ups and downs that are a non-negotiable part of being a business owner. That said, she suggests accepting that side of it early on, and learning to embrace the bad with the good. "Entrepreneurship is a long, hard road filled with high highs and low lows," she explains. "With that, remember to enjoy the ride, be present, and enjoy each day of this journey because it's going to teach you so much about yourself and what it means to be human. That's the greatest gift entrepreneurship has given me."