I have a confession to make.
My resignation form had been on my work computer for over two years before I actually gave my notice.
Yes, it took me two years to finally dive (hmmm…more like plunge) into self-employment as a freelance technology coach for service-based businesses.
Two years is a long time to have a dream deterred. This business dream had been waiting, semi-patiently, for some perfect moment to strike.
And I’ll tell you a secret…
That so-called “perfect” moment never happened. I had to take a leap of faith and just begin.
A couple weeks ago, business loan company Kabbage.com reached out to me and asked, “We want to know, if you had the chance to start a (new) business tomorrow, what would it be and why?” and it brought back a lot of memories.
But what it most reminded me is that there’s no time like the present to start your dream business.
IT STARTS WITH VISION & PURPOSE
It’s not a coincidence that my technology coaching practice is targeted to women business owners, or as I like to say, ladypreneurs.
My life’s purpose is to help women embrace what technology offers. Because in our modern society, understanding and leveraging technology enriches lives.
Technology can be the tipping point between a successful business and one that fails. It’s my dream for more women to feel empowered and comfortable with using modern tools, apps, and services in both their lives and their businesses. (But only when it makes sense. There is such a thing as too much technology.)
For me, it was disheartening to be one of only five or six women in a class of about one hundred and ten freshman computer science students. That’s too low.
And if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a women tell me they’re not technical, I cringe. Especially when their aversion to technology holds them, or their business, back from reaching its fullest potential.
So my dream business venture must help women with technology by solving a challenge that they experience.
BE STRENGTH-BASED AND STRATEGIC
My best business tip is to commit to learning, accepting, and embracing what your personal strengths are. And then build your business – or at least some of it’s services and products, around those strengths.
Okay, that sounds like something like Oprah would say.
But seriously, my dream business venture must be unique, memorable, wildly useful, and the very best at what it does. For those four things to occur, I must build my business around my one-of-a-kind strengths and also hire top of the line help in areas that I’m weaker in.
Earlier this year I went on a self-discovery journey to discover my strengths. For six (long) weeks, I kept a list numbered from one to ten next to me. It asked:
What am I naturally great at? What could I easily do all day, every day, if I could?
At the end of this exercise I discovered the following about myself:
- When I have figured something out, I can explain it simply to others with everyday language (versus technical jargon – which I despise).
- I deeply love evaluating software tools. In fact, I could evaluate apps and services all day long! A big part of me enjoys seeing how a service provider has implemented their product, and understanding who’d most benefit from using it.
- My best form of communication is written — well, minus the typos. (But I like to think they add personality to the message.)
- I’m able to see patterns quite easily, even between topics which at first glance do not seem connected or correlated.
MY DREAM BUSINESS VENTURE: THE TECHNOLOGY BOUTIQUE
Imagine an online boutique where modern ladypreneurs can “window shop” for the best curated business apps and services that are within their budgets.
Let’s be frank: technical jargon sucks.
Even if you somewhat enjoy technology, researching it can be dull and time consuming. Sometimes I feel like the marketing team makes their message as complicated as possible. And other times, the product sounds amazing on paper and then performs like a dud after you buy it.
Which reminded me of shopping for clothes.
I mean how many times has something looked stunning on the hanger (or on that weird faceless mannequin). But then, when you try it on, it was a complete and total flop?
It all got me thinking about fashion, shopping, and technology.
Akin to fashion, technology changes…All. The. Time. It can be hard for a fashionista to keep up with the trends and new indie brands. Same goes with small business technology. There’s a constant array of new apps from startups and it can be hard to keep up.
And just like every person has their own unique fashion style and tastes, the same true is true with business technology. One size definitely does not fit all.
I realized that part of what I do as a technology coach is help businesses select trendy apps and services that fit their business model and their objectives. I help them fill their “business technology closet” with ah-maz-ing finds.
Guess that makes me a TECH STYLIST.
So I started to ask some questions:
- What if you took away the tech speak (hint: one of my strengths) and changed the lingo into something most women already connect with?
- What if you presented business technology in a clever, organized, but still playful manner – instead of tedious, dull, and oh-so-boring?
- What if other business owners could leave feedback and insights on what worked and fit their business, so you receive a group’s opinion versus just a blogger’s or guru’s?
I began to envision this online boutique where trusted curators highlight and share the best technology finds for my favorite market: women business owners.
MAKE YOUR DREAM VENTURE A REALITY VENTURE
I’ve had this idea in my mind since the end of May. Since then, I’ve been researching and putting ideas to paper in a simplified business plan.
And as I was writing this blog post for Kabbage.com, I realized it needed to finally happen. Because as I discovered after giving my notice, there’s no time like the present. And this time, I don’t want two years to pass me by.
So allow me to introduce you to my newest venture which I’m elated to share with you today: The Technology Boutique.
It’s not much yet and it’s far from perfect – but it’s now 100% official and out in the world. And that’s half the battle when you’re thinking about making your dream venture a reality.
Kabbage.com also asked me, “How would you start (your dream venture)?”
Here’s my answer for all you dreamprenerus wanting to start your venture:
1.) There’s never going to be a perfect time. Start before you’re ready.
2.) Obtain whatever resources you need. Know your strengths (read: what you can do yourself), but be quick to recognize your limits.
Once you know your limits, find the resources you need to make your business happen. It might be a technology coach or a business coach. Or perhaps someone with a sales and marketing background who can guide you on how selling products work.
Or you may need a small business loan to get started. (Hint: Kabbage.com offers quick and painless small business loans.) Whatever it is, determine what’s needed to make your business a reality. Sometimes you have to bootstrap it all by yourself, but if you can invest in your business by hiring out help – do that.
3.) If your new to business, take a business class or two. I took a class on Entrepreneurship at my local junior college after giving my notice. You can find a list of free online college classes on business basics at OpenCulture.com.
SkillShare.com also offers mini-classes on Entrepreneurship from business leaders like Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. If you use this affiliate link, you’ll get a free month on SkillShare to get started.
4.) Have a mentor or business coach. We all need support and an objective party to help us see the forest for the trees. Investing in a coach or mentor is crucial.
5.) Make a plan. I don’t believe you need a traditional business plan, but you do need to understand your business model and revenue model, who your target customer/client is (marketing 101), and how you plan to make your product or service actually happen with a simple project plan.
Planning your business may require research or a prototype, so get started with that. My regular coaching services provided me with a lot of research into what my target market needed but was lacking on the market.
6.) Just. Do. It. Sit down every day and make some progress – even five minutes, towards making your business a reality.
I’m proud and elated to see my vision for The Technology Boutique start to fall into place.
If you’re a women entrepreneur who doesn’t even know what you don’t know (well, when it comes to technology at least)…or if you’re constantly asking others on Facebook what they’re using for webinars, website pop-ups, and accounting — then oh boy, The Technology Boutique is perfect for you.
Go visit TheTechnologyBoutique.com now and be sure to sign-up for updates while you’re there. By signing up, you’ll be the first to know when its virtual doors open. I’d love to have you join me on this venture from day one.
But now I’m curious.
If you had a chance to start a business venture RIGHT NOW what would your dream business venture be? What’s stopping you from making that dream a reality? How’d it feel to see your idea blossom into a real biz that you created and launched?
Take a moment to reflect on your dreams and then leave your thoughts in the coments below.
And then, just maybe, go make it happen. Because really, there’s no time like the present.
Author’s note: Kabbage.com reached out to me to write a blog post as part of their Dream Venture Campaign. While it helped motivate me to finally make my big dream a reality, I have no business relationship or partnership with Kabbage.com. I am not affiliated with their company in any way nor am I promoting or recommending their service.
Kabbage.com is a small business lending company that looks at metrics and data from leading service providers – such as PayPal, Etsy, QuickBook – to determine if your small business is a good candidate for a Kabbage business loan. If you qualify for loan, you have flexible on-going access to the loan as you need it. Please visit Kabbage.com for more information or to see if you qualify.