We want to live life to the full and invest our hard-earned money. But if we can’t afford it now, how are we going to afford it when we retire; too old to enjoy it and probably too poor, thanks to inflation?
Today’s 20-something woman is thinking ahead – further than the weekend or how she’s going to afford next season’s clearance sale. With the pressures of juggling work, home and family she’s not thinking retirement in her 50s or 60s, but closer to the foreseeable future.
However, the reality is that most salary-earners will be in the position to call it a day and live off their savings at will. With harsh realities, it’s clear that it takes much more than a pay packet. Going into business is an enterprising solution. Undoubtedly it’s a big, risky step but it’s becoming an increasingly more attractive option for a woman who wants to take charge of there financial future.
Kim K., 33, owner of a corporate gift company based in Johannesburg left her job to start her business five years ago and she hasn’t looked back. Undeterred by being pregnant, overcome with constant morning sickness and jilted by her baby’s father, she buckled down to make small promotional gifts for prospective corporate clients to get her name out there. “I fell into it by accident”, says the bubbly, petite Kim. ‘While I was working at an office furniture company, I ended up having to put together promotional hampers for work. Then word spread and colleagues and friends started asking me too,’ She ran with the idea and started building a pool of clients as well as designing and outsourcing lingerie for spirit cooler launches. “Working for your self has its pros and cons.
It’s fun and there’s definitely more flexibility and freedom. If my daughter needs me, I can take the afternoon off, or fetch her from school immediately if there’s an emergency. But at the same time, especially if you work from home, your work can take over. You can’t leave it behind at the office,” she says.
To keep very focused, every two weeks, Kim meets with an inner coach who helps her address personal and business challenges. “Of course having goals and knowing how to balance your work and your home life is pretty much common sense but just like exercise, you know it’s good for you but you just don’t do it. My inner coach helps me to implement my goals and tackle problems by looking at them from different angles,’ says Kim. Inter coaching is fast becoming the new management buzz word.
In the workplace, it’s about managers helping employees find the best way to do their job instead of showing then how to do it. And for people who are starting out on their own, coaches are there to maximize an individual’s existing skills to reach their goals. Telana S., executive, personal and communication coach says: ‘If a client wants to start their own business but isn’t too sure what they want to do, I try to find out what their passions are; what their purpose is in life. I ask as many questions as possible so they come to their own conclusions. ’Her advice is not to rush into starting a business: ’Speak to someone who’s been through it and find out as much possible about the financial side. Do research on the business you want to start. Think about the risks and how long it will take to set up and get an income so you can put enough to tide you over till then’. But in Kim’s case, she jumped straight into it.
The downside was that having no savings from her previous job, she worried constantly because she had no money to fall back on. The promotional gifts she produced were financed out of her own pocket and she did everything herself. When she went to see clients, she would take her baby with her. There was no other option. ‘Even when the orders started rolling in, the money wasn’t coming in at the end of the month and I would panic. Thankfully, my friends and God got me through it. I still worry about making ends meet at the end of the month, but at least working for yourself you have control. There are other things I can make or do to generate funds.’
Meggan Q., 26 and Lara M., 29, are co-owners of a budding communications consultancy which they started two years ago. They didn’t wander far from their previous jobs where they both worked at a global public relations organization for five years. Says Meggan: ’We both envisaged more time, money and freedom but soon learned that running a business takes an immense amount of time, commitment and dedication and more often than not – never the financial return one hopes for.’ Meggan and Lara cashed in all their policies and were lucky enough to take one their existing clients with them.
Former freelance scriptwriter and publicist, Marang S., 32, started dreamcatcher, an event and artist management company with colleagues and friends, Phindile M. and Nothando M. three years ago. “Having worked with Phindile and Nothando on previous jobs, it was obvious that we could set up our own entity and make it work. We were brimming with ideas of productions and projects and the only way we could realize then was to set up our own company. We saved money, scaled-down our social lives hectically and vigorously set about looking for business, We talked to people we knew, made a lot of cold calls and marketed ourselves, ‘ says Marang.
Like Kim, Meggan and Lara, Marang has found that as empowering as ownership is, it’s also a major responsibility. “Financially speaking, it’s liberating (and sometimes scary) to know that you’re literally the mistress of your own fate. It’s also an awesome responsibility being accountable to your partners and employees, ‘she says. Meggan agrees: ‘Having to balance ones’ personal and work life is challenging as work automatically becomes your life. But the rewards you reap make it all worthwhile in the end.
You are in charge of your own destiny and are creating your own future. But it’s a double-edged sword of pure elation and pure fear because the buck stops with you.’ As entrepreneurs, they know a good support network of family friends and mentors is essential for advice, guidance, ideas and just helping then to keep their sanity. ‘We soon realized that if you just take the time to ask people around you and most often closest to you, you find a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, creativity, and companionship, ‘ Says Meggan. ’There are lessons that you have to learn for yourself, but there’s something to be said for enlisting the help of people who are knowledgeable and have your best interests at heart, ‘ says Marang.
Many women who are interested in going into business are still put off by it being a traditionally male-dominated arena. Says Telana: “You don’t have to lose your femininity to make it in business. In other words, you don’t have to become a man. Be yourself and don’t try to become what you think business is.”
She advises: “Once you’ve set up your own business, especially if you’re running it from home as in Kim’s case, discipline yourself. Have business hours and time for yourself and your family. There’s no reason why you should be working on weekends or overtime just because you’re working for yourself – unless of course, you’re on deadline. You should be spending about 80% of your time working on your business and 20% in your business. “In other words, spend more time and energy strategizing, advertising, financial planning, improving your business and so on.
One lesson to take from the strong young women who are braving the world of business is that it will never be smooth-sailing. But you get out what you put in and often the rewards make it worth the struggle.
An idea: How to start a gift basket business from home with Shopify
This business idea is about creating a product to sell locally. An idea I have considered many times throughout my many years of entrepreneurship that’s creating a Gift Basket Business! I absolutely love gift baskets and love that most gift baskets are non-perishable and people order them for a variety of excellent reasons all throughout this year.
I love the Notion of a Gift Basket Business because who does not love a gift basket?
1. First, you’ll need to decide on a market for your gift basket business.
I would start by first exploring the local contest and see what’s not being currently offered. Then think about your own personal style and incorporate that into your business model. Would you love Shabby Chic? Are you currently an All-Natural Mama? Can you like Homemade and Locally Produced Products? All of these are excellent market gift basket business ideas!
2. Locate material suppliers
As Soon as You’ve determined what kind of style Your Gift Basket Business will offer then you can go ahead and start deciding where to supply your gift basket contents. Maybe you know of some other Mompreneurs on the regional community store already making handmade items that would suit your gift baskets. Look at offering their products in your basket and requesting them to sell you multiple units at a time at wholesale discount prices.
3. Take high-resolution photos of your gift baskets
Your closing basket looks, and receive samples of your basket things in your palms, you’re going to want to takes some pictures to reveal customers on your website. I would suggest assembling some fine looking baskets and then having some professional photos taken of the baskets. If you can not afford these just yet, you can even use an iPhone with fantastic outcomes.
4. Create an online gift basket delivery store
Once you have great product photos You’ll want to create an online shop so that your customers can purchase gift baskets every time of the day out of you. You can use Shopify to put up an internet shop because they supply a platform that is super easy for creating a store in under a day and also their templates are super sleek, clean and trendy. Additionally, their transport calculator tools and client service have proven to be the best.
5. Create a distribution plan
Shopify is a great tool for transport Online orders since their platform permits sellers to seamlessly obtain an order, pay and print a shipping label, and ship the package to USPS for delivery. No longer calculating shipping costs, moving address info, or creating packing slips. Shopify allows you to manage the distribution of your goods easily.
6. Create an advertising plan
Printed Sales Literature
You’ll want to consider how you Will market your Gift Basket Business next. This is an affordable method to get folks to know about your Gift Basket Business and advertising action plan you can easily achieve in a day or 2.
Basically you will want to post flyers Anyplace people will frequent often and allows you to put your flyer up for free. I like to use FedEx Office for printing flyers and sales literature since they have a fast turn around and have provided great customer service when I’ve had an issue with uploading pictures to their site.
Considering advertisements on your local Newspaper and publications. Often times you’ll be able to get a discounted rate if you are a new business enterprise. Possessing a local ad in a paper that is read by many people will allow you to create more sales in your area and remove the burden of shipping your gift baskets.
Social Media Advertising
Additionally, I’m hearing lots of great things about Facebook Targeted Ads which you can use to display inexpensive ads to local customers for a minimum cost. Also, don’t forget to post about your Gift Basket Business on your Facebook account so people who understand you are able to learn about your company and discuss it with their friends.
7. Keep excellent customer service
Outstanding customer service is Essential to Running a sustainable company. Make certain that you check your email regularly and get orders delivered to customers in as timely of a fashion as you can — the earlier the better. Make sure you answer customer support requests politely and to be as useful as you can be constantly — no matter what.
Folks will remember how they’re Treated by you while buying products from your enterprise and word-of-mouth Marketing is your №1 selling tool. Make Certain to always go over and Past to your customers and they’ll reward you with repeat and routine business.
Tips for starting your own business
- Believe in yourself, your product or your service.
- Find mentors – people who have done something similar to who you can bounce ideas. Set up a support system.
- Find mentors – people who have done something similar to who you can bounce ideas. Set up a support system.
- Manage your social life, especially if you’re working from home.
- Develop your ability to manage yourself and your finances.
- Develop the right attitude to take risks.
- Don’t become paralyzed by striving for perfection.
- The three-year plan – how will your business survive the blanket period of a start-up? Make sure have financial resources for at least 36 months. Cash flow is the most important factor of any start-up.
- Don’t put all your funds/loans into your venture. Your venture is a risk, keep enough capital aside that will tide you over at least three-six months.
- Keep overheads and expenses low, e.g. if you can work from home rather then renting space do so for the first few months.
- Do not be afraid to call it quits, regroup and start again. If your venture is not working, cut your losses.
- Beware of partnerships. They are potentially dangerous and any of your partner’s reckless decisions will become your responsibility.
- Get the best possible advice, find a mentor.
- A passion for hard work and excellence is essential as you will work harder in your own business than you ever have.