Have an idea for a business and can’t stop thinking about making it a reality? Been there. In honor of National Women’s Small Business Month, I am sharing some of my favorite resources for getting a business growing and keeping the momentum going.
Can you believe that as late as 1988, women in this country still needed a male relative to cosign a business loan? Yikes! While women-owned businesses contribute a whopping $2.8 trillion to our economy, and women’s entrepreneurship is rapidly increasing, starting a business is still scary and it's easy to feel like the cards are stacked against you.
For me, that feeling is most acute when flipping through a business magazine, reading stories of successful entrepreneurs and not feeling I identify with any of them. Entrepreneur life is often painted as a way to get rich, revolutionize the way we do things, and make a name for yourself. But for me, there are different motivations.
What makes the entrepreneurial journey worthwhile to me is the thought that something I created helps men and women integrate biking into their lives and stay more active in general. That as we grow, our contributions to World Bicycle Relief grow, and we give girls in rural Africa access to education. That by having a successful company in a male dominated industry, I can show other women how to add their own contributions to the market and diversify the product offering. (Shout-out to the League of American Bicyclists for highlighting these contributions at their National Summit Pop-Up Shop each year).
Because my business goals are a little more touchy-feely, my favorite resources are ones that help me stay true to myself, and my vision. Here are five of my picks:
1. Marie Forleo
There are a lot of small business coaches online, but Marie Forleo is probably my favorite. Her slogan is “create a business and life you love,” and that is certainly a goal of mine. I subscribe to her newsletter and end up watching most of her Tuesday Q&A videos because they inevitably touch on something that I’m dealing with. One of my favorites is “What to do when you doubt everything + just wanna stay in bed”.
Marie’s catchphrase is “Everything is figure-out-able”. I think about that a lot, especially when I’m stumped. I know I’m smart, so rather than feeling discouraged when something isn't working out, I just need to spend the time figuring it out and solving for X.
2. Andreea Ayers
A lot of small business resources tend dispense advice that is rather general: "Nowadays, the best way to get your name out there is to get your products in the hands of influential bloggers.". Okay, great, but how does one exactly do that?
This is where Andreea Ayers and her sites Launch, Grow, Joy and Get Media Happy come in. Not only does she dispense advice, but her webinars and blog posts are like a how-to manual to raising your brand awareness, everything down to scripts on what to write in a follow-up email to a press contact. It takes so much guesswork out of how to accomplish a task, which in turn makes it seem less daunting. Did you see Po Campo bags in Yoga Journal and Bicycling Magazine this fall? I got those press hits following her advice to a T.
3. MAKERS: Women Who Make America
I stumbled across this site while researching "makers", as in the maker movement. Instead, I found this glorious collection of videos of women's stories, entitled MAKERS: Women Who Make America. Not exactly a small business resource per se, but it's where I go to hear inspirational stories from women who really set-out to accomplish something. Because of that, I think it totally belongs in an article about National Women's Small Business Month. It helps me appreciate how many stories there are out there that haven't been told, and I love hearing them.
It's hard to pick my favorite video, but I've rewatched Oprah's several times (and even shared it already once on this blog, in my post about female African-American entrepreneurs for Black History Month).
4. Start-Up Podcast
There is great pressure in entrepreneur and start-up circles to make it all sound like everything is going great all the time. It is really annoying, because you know everyone is dealing with same ups and downs as you are, but you can only talk about the ups. When do we get to talk about the downs?
The Startup Podcast tells the stories of starting and growing businesses more authentically than anything I have every heard. Possibly because the episodes are recorded in real time with real start-ups, so there's no chance to go back with 20/20 vision and re-tell what's happening in a manner that seems more thoughtful and intentional.
Both seasons are great (and I just saw that a new mini-season is available - yay!). I wish I could tell you my favorite episode, but I can't, so you best start from the beginning: "How Not to Pitch a Billionaire".
What's that saying about how it takes a village to build a business? Getting together with other entrepreneurs and people who share your interests is invaluable and necessary for success. To find your tribe, a great place to start is on MeetUp.com. On this site, you can find groups for pretty much anything. I've joined all sorts of entrepreneur groups, plus groups for my other interests, like needlepoint, board games, urban outdoor adventures, and wearable technology.
If you're an introvert like me, going to a meet-up as a newbie can be a little daunting, but I've found it to be a great chance to meet like minded people and practice my Po Campo pitch, in whatever state it is in. I try to go to one a week, and the conversations and lessons keep me inspired and keep the business moving forward.
Do you have a small business? What are some of your favorite resources? Please share in the comments below.
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