Transitioning from corporate to entrepreneurship can be a scary prospect as a working woman. Here’s how to approach it.
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship is going to be one of the most impactful journeys you may experience as a working woman. It will change what you have been conditioned to believe and challenge you to grow in unexpected ways.
According to the American Express 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses, more than 11.6 million firms are owned by women. These firms generate $1.7 trillion in sales, employing nearly 9 million people. Thirty-nine percent of all privately held firms are also women-owned.
In other words, an increasing number of women are transitioning from the corporate sphere to the world of entrepreneurship. If you are in this group or thinking about it, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
1. Start with mindset.
Many, if not most women, suffer from a lack of confidence as well as from the notorious “impostor syndrome” in their careers and businesses. As a working woman, you may feel like despite your accomplishments, your personality isn’t adequate. Or you may feel like you’re not competent enough.
I’ve personally had to fight the negative voices in my head telling me that I needed to acquire an overwhelming amount of competence before being secure in my entrepreneurial abilities. Like many women, I struggled with the feeling of “not being enough” or the fear of being “the only woman in the room.”
As you transition from a corporate career to entrepreneurship, you should be aware of these negative mindsets in order to proactively fight them. Work on increasing your self-confidence through self-care, positive mindset practices and challenging yourself to face your fears.
2. Be financially prepared.
Starting a business requires money. This is especially important for women, as they face greater obstacles when starting a business. While they start more than half of the businesses in the U.S., very few women receive venture capital funding. As a working woman, having a financial cushion to fall back on lessens the pressure. While there is always going to be a measure of risk involved, being able to financially plan ahead goes a long way toward accomplishing your goals.
Remember that the best time to set money aside while transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship is when you’re still employed. Consider living below your means before quitting, reducing your expenses, and paying off or consolidating your debts. This will not only help you build better spending habits, but also grow a reliable financial support system through this process.
3. Mind your emotions.
One aspect of transitioning from a corporate job to entrepreneurship that often gets overlooked by women is the emotional side. The many pressures of balancing work and life, as well as the significant challenges facing women in business, can wreak havoc on your emotions as a working woman. Yet, emotions can actually help your entrepreneurial career.
Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster with unpredictable ups and downs. This can lead to emotional distress, and even depression and mental health issues. As you prepare mentally for your entrepreneurial transition, don’t forget to mind your emotions too. Resist the temptation to get down on yourself for feeling such emotions as fear, disappointment or even anger. Instead, show yourself some much-needed compassion and learn to use your emotions to boost your entrepreneurial ventures.
4. Have a plan …
You may have a dream and many ideas as to how you can make it come true. You may also have all the motivation in the world to make your dream a reality. However, as a working woman, you may often be tempted to do all the work in your business as opposed to working on your business. This is where a well-crafted plan allowing for effective delegation will help you be more successful.
Understanding what I would need to focus on as opposed to what I would need to delegate made all the difference for me. Don’t be afraid to have an ambitious, yet realistic plan that keeps you on top of your business and not constantly in the trenches.
5. … But be flexible.
While it’s important to have a plan, being flexible during your transition can also be beneficial. It’s a well-known fact that women won’t apply for a given job or project unless they meet 100 percent of the requirements. However, in the world of entrepreneurship, a certain level of flexibility and spontaneity is required.
Consider that some variables may change, and unexpected situations may arise. It’s OK to be committed to your goal. Yet remaining flexible as to how you execute them can actually increase your impact.
Related: I Never Let ‘No’ Stop Me
6. Don’t forget your network.
As a working woman, you may tend to have less of a support network. This is due to the fact that women tend to rely more on their competence than their connections. However, networking is one of the most effective ways you can succeed in business as a woman.
Actually, it’s the network you have built over the years that will most likely help you land new clients, deals and opportunities. As you move into entrepreneurship, remember to keep nurturing this network as you develop new relationships.
7. Make self-care a priority.
Not enough is said about prioritizing self-care as a working woman and an entrepreneur. Women, especially Type As like myself, very often neglect their own well-being for their families, friends and work. Yet, there are times when self-care needs to be your No. 1 strategy.
You may be tempted to go all in in your business and forget about that much-needed timeout. Instead of waiting for the right time to care for yourself, schedule self-care appointments as you would any other meeting.