7 Traps to Avoid If You're a Woman Preparing to Be an Entrepreneur
As the founder of The Rebuild Your Life Project, an empowerment outreach aimed to teach women to overcome their fear of failure, I’ve seen firsthand how failure to make strategic life choices in advance will hinder women's progress. Women must take control of their potential by making strong decisions that will give them the power of choosing their path rather than reacting to life's pitfalls.
Women must recognize their power over their own lives. Preparing for entrepreneurship is one of the most empowering decisions women can make. While some women dream of working their way up to the corner office, your dream should be to own the office. If you cannot be content with building someone else's dream. avoid these seven traps to ensure that you build your own.
1. Failing to be on long-term birth control
Although driven single moms can achieve their entrepreneurial dreams, the amount of sacrifice it takes to create a business from scratch is much more difficult when you have a child in tow.
Birth control options are now safer than at any other time in history and are more easily attainable. If you are smart enough to have prepared early for your future as an entrepreneur, you'll have taken the time to think about family planning and your goals. Children are a gift, of course; but they don’t have to be a surprise.
2. Making the pursuit of romantic love your priority
When we are young girls, we fantasize about following the script society dictates: college, marriage, family. But, once we become women, many of us realize that we have the power to rewrite that script to make our lives a free-for-all filled with adventure.
So, instead of daydreaming about a wedding, you may have begun plotting your course toward entrepreneurship -- and that is a great thing. But, you also have to determine the place romantic love will play in this scheme of things.
Placing romantic love above all other goals may have been cute when you were a teen. But, women with ambition realize there are many ways to experience satisfaction in life. In fact, a Match.com study revealed that the No. 1 place to meet a spouse is at school or work. This means women who are actively pursuing their entrepreneurial goals rather than love as the No. 1 focus are likely to still find love -- as a bonus.
3. Undervaluing self-education
When we look at the fact that some of today's most successful entrepreneurs dropped out of college, we may think they were born with superbrains. The truth is, however, that those individuals who created those great ideas spent countless hours educating themselves on their craft through trial and error before they found their path to success.
Self-education comes through studying successful entrepreneurs, working at a business similar to the one you want to create or simply picking up a book. You are in charge of what you learn and how you apply it. Being an entrepreneur takes discipline, and educating yourself is just the training ground.
4. Accepting public assistance
The U.S. Census Bureau studied participation in six major welfare programs from 2009 to 2012 and found that 20 percent of Americans received public assistance. While these government programs aid individuals and families in need, the report showed that 43 percent of those recipients received long-term public assistance. Nearly half of those receiving housing assistance, for example, were in the program for three years or more.
How might this impact your desire to become an entrepreneur? Receiving long-term public assistance reduces the chance that you'll venture out to increase your income, due to the income restrictions you'll face, to maintain your benefits.
Many people fall into the trap of receiving public assistance, thinking it will help them reach their goals. Instead, they become comfortable with the assurance of that government payout. Faced with the choice of trying to earn more by working independently, they fear losing their at least semi-secure lifestyle.
Don't let this be you. Decide that you will not accept public assistance at all. If doing so is absolutely necessary, set a time limit for less than a year. Capping your dependence on the government will help motivate you to make great things happen with your fledgling business.
5. Being unprepared to handle loss
Many of us have a survival skill set, a set of go-to options that we fall back on when times get rough. Upgrade your own survival skill set by creating multiple streams of income. Learn to maintain your sanity and integrity in the wake of disaster; accept that loss is a part of life. And understand that the experience of losing can function as the catalyst to do more with the skills you have acquired.
6. Living extravagantly too soon
In the race to keep up the appearance of success, we often adorn our person and our lives with with material goods to feel we have something to show for the effort we've put into our dreams. We should stop, though, because there is no reason to compete with others early on in the game of entrepreneurship.
So, minimize your lifestyle. You don't need a shiny new car during your humble beginnings. Your apartment does not need to be the penthouse. Your shoes and handbag need not sport the latest designer label.
Sure, you won’t be the hottest woman on Instagram, but you won’t have to worry either about impressing your social media fans, because one day you'll have employees to manage and they'll compliment you no matter what you wear.
7. Depending only on your business ideas to earn income
If you want to make it as an entrepreneur, step outside of your chosen field and build a skill that has nothing to do with what you dream of doing in life. Learn something you can do with your hands that will produce income while you wait for your business to take off.
Learn to be a hairdresser, for instance. Or mow lawns, or prepare people's tax returns. Learning a trade not only helps you support yourself while you are building your empire; it also acts as a safety net when things become unstable.
In short, never depend on your business idea as your only source of income. Creating multiple streams of income will be the only way to guarantee you will never go without life’s necessities. It will also increase your confidence, allowing you to take the reins and drive yourself wherever your heart may lead.