What kind of impact would an extra $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000+ make for your household? For many already overworked and overscheduled women, this probably seems out of reach. But I assure you it’s not. Do you know that there are currently 30 million Americans working as freelancers or independent workers?1 There’s never been a better time to turn your idea into extra income.
I work with women in all different industries and at all levels of business. I coach women that sell handcrafted hair bows or handbags and those that run professional accounting or photography businesses. It may be a small hobby they occasionally charge for, or it may eventually develop into a full-time company with team members. Regardless of what stage of business you might be in, there has never been a better time to make money doing what you love.
As evidenced by the ever-growing popularity of sites like Etsy and Pinterest, there are more and more women running part-time businesses in addition to their full-time responsibilities. Whether you’re working with gazelle intensity to pay down debt or just want to earn some extra money to take the family on vacation, the ability to increase your income is almost limitless.
How It Starts
Leading up to my first Business Boutique event and while writing my new book, I immersed myself in researching women who ran their own businesses. I spent years studying and interviewing these women. One question I always asked was, “How did you get into this particular business?” Almost all of them gave me the same answer, which turned out to be more than coincidence. They responded with, “I have always loved . . . ”
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“I have always loved piano.”
“I have always loved photography.”
“I have always loved sewing.”
“I have always loved math and numbers.”
“I have always loved planning parties.”
I realized what they were doing wasn’t just about business. It was personal. Usually their business idea was birthed out of a strength or hobby they enjoyed!
And when they realized they could do something that brought them joy and make money at the same time, they had an aha! moment. It was time to turn that hobby into a business!
Make Extra Money and Make a Difference
Wouldn’t it be great to contribute to your household’s debt payoff without having to take a job as a part-time cashier? Or be able to send the kids to basketball camp without dipping into your savings account? Could it be God has given you a talent—something you have always loved—so that you can have fun, make money, and (best of all) make a difference?
That’s what I believe. I believe your passions, hobbies, and talents are not random. I believe you were wired this way for a reason. God wants you to do more than just get by; He wants you to be fulfilled. I believe He gave you these gifts so you can offer them to the world.
But I know from personal experience and my years of coaching others that, while pursuing our passion can be exciting, the business side of things can be overwhelming. That’s why I wrote my book, Business Boutique: A Woman’s Guide for Making Money Doing What She Loves. In Business Boutique, I give you the step-by-step plan you need to start, run, or grow a business to the level you want.
In my research, I identified five main areas women need help in when starting or growing their businesses. Let’s talk about what they are and what you need to know to chase your dreams!
#1: The Plan
After you have the aha! moment, it’s tempting to fast forward to the fun stuff. I see this all the time! The moment you realize you can make money doing this thing, you run out and set up a Facebook page. You make up a name, set pricing, and print business cards. You choose cute photos for your site and pick out even cuter stationary to match. The creative, brainstorming, and beginning stages of business are fun and exciting. The possibilities are endless and it’s full of hope and potential. I think it’s awesome you’re diving right in because you’re moving and shaking and making things happen!
But the only problem with this is, in all of your excitement and activity, you forget to plan. You start making decisions with no particular destination in mind. Not only does this lead to mistakes down the road, but you’ll quickly get frustrated. What I’ve noticed in my own life and in coaching others is it’s not having too much to do that overwhelms us, it’s not knowing what to do.
You need to know what to do and what order to do it in. You need steps. You need a plan. That’s exactly why I wrote Business Boutique. From the first page to the last, it walks you through a complete business plan to cover all of your bases, answer all of your questions, and set you up to win. Whether you use the Business Boutique plan or make up your own, you just need to have one.
A plan will help you start with the end in mind and define your version of success. That way, you don’t end up running really hard toward someone else’s finish line. At a minimum, your plan needs to cover:
- Market research
- Vision and goals for the future
- Money management such as pricing and profit
- Operations such as shipping, fulfillment, policies and processes
- Marketing strategies
Even though planning and strategizing is probably not why you decided to get into business in the first place, it’s still vital to building a business that will last. When you do a little of the planning work on the front end, you not only save yourself headaches and mistakes, but you’re much more likely to be successful. Then you can get back to the fun stuff and do more of what you love and less of what you don’t!
#2: The Business Side of Things
At some point in the early stages of starting a new business, it’s really common to hit a wall. You can go from feeling excited and hopeful to discouraged and hopeless overnight! Questions swirl around in your mind constantly: What about taxes? Do I need a business license? Do I need a federal tax ID? Do I have to have a patent or trademark? What type of insurance do I need? And on and on and on. All of the fun comes to a screeching halt, and you’ve got more questions than answers and more anxiety than excitement.
Here’s what I’ve seen in my research: It’s at this wall of being overwhelmed that you can take one of two paths:
- Path 1: Some women get help and answers and get over the wall. They reach their goals and are living their dreams.
- Path 2: Other women let the discouragement suck the life out of their dreams. The questions they have make them feel disqualified to be in business and they throw up their hands and give up. They resolve to keep it a hobby and rationalize it was a bad idea to begin with.
But that’s not true! Those who take Path 2 just need what the women that took Path 1 needed: help with the business side of things.
I know the technical side of things can seem like they suck the fun out everything. But the truth is, it’s not as big of a deal as you might think. It may feel like that stuff is 95% of being in business, but the reality is it really only represents about 5% of your day-to-day operations.
Most of your days in business are spent fulfilling orders, serving customers, and marketing to new customers. That should be great news because, for most people, that’s the fun stuff! So don’t let the business side of things get you down or make you feel like you aren’t cut out for this. You can do this.
There are people around you willing to help you with this stuff, and there are resources like my book, Business Boutique, to simplify it for you. If you get the help you need, you’ll be scaling that wall of being overwhelmed like an American Ninja Warrior competitor going for the prize money! Because when you think about it, the prize of having your own business is definitely one worth fighting for!
#3 Managing the Money
When you were in school growing up, you probably had to take tests. Your performance was measured in grades and every few weeks, you got a report card with all of your grades from your different classes. That’s because in grade school, your grades were a measure of your knowledge, skills, and ability. Your report card was an indicator of your level of success in those subjects.
Whether you realize it or not, your business has a measure of success as well. It’s called your profit. Your revenue minus your expenses equals your profit. Your profit is the report card of how well your business is doing. How much profit you make directly impacts the amount of extra income you make and your ability to grow your business in the future.
I’ve coached women at all levels of business and I’ve noticed that many people don’t understand the importance of profit. Here are three truths you need to hear to grow a successful business:
1. Every business needs profit.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve worked with that tell me they are running a business when what they actually have is a hobby. There’s a major difference between a hobby and a business. A hobby costs you money; a business makes you money. If you want to be successful in business (and I hope you do!), then you’ve got to make money—that is, you’ve got to earn a profit.
2. Nonprofit does not mean no profit.
If you’re running a nonprofit, or would like to, you may think this doesn’t apply to you. Think again! While it seems contradictory to the name, nonprofit actually does not mean no profit. Nonprofit is simply a tax status—an IRS designation. It refers to how the money flows through the business. In fact, do you want to know what a nonprofit with no profit is called? Out of business!
3. Profit isn’t “extra money”.
Many women I work with tend to think of the profit as optional, bonus, "fun" money. Because they think this way, they end up having low profit margins and giving away things for free or at cost. In some cases, they feel guilty for pricing their products to earn a profit. But profit isn’t optional. It ’s actually a necessary element in the mathematical financial equation in business. You have to do things with that profit such as cover operational expenses, pay taxes, save and invest back into the business, and pay yourself for your hard work!
Your profit will vary depending on your type of business. For example, product-based businesses with more hard costs in materials will almost always have lower profit margins than service-based businesses where the cost is usually just your time.
But regardless of what type of business you have, I want to encourage you to look at the profit in your business and find ways to increase it. Your profit is, as Ken Blanchard says, the "applause you receive from taking care of your customers.” Profit isn’t just something you need, it’s something you can be proud of!
#4 Marketing and Selling
Whether it’s an aggressive used car salesman trying to sell you a lemon or the mall kiosk guy that steps right into your walking path to offer you some hand lotion, we’ve all been bothered by a pushy sales person at one time or another. And unfortunately, those few bad experiences shape our entire idea about sales.
Over time, we begin to believe that sales means taking advantage and twisting arms. We think it means treating relationships like transactions and annoying everyone in sight. So naturally, we want to stay as far away from that as possible!
But none of those examples represent sales – not good sales, anyway. And whether you like the idea of sales or it makes you a little squirmy, we are all in the business of sales. You can’t make extra money doing what you love unless you sell something in order to make that money!
Being skilled at selling helps you make more money in your business and take more money home for your family. Businesses that can’t make sales are out of business. That’s why I want to teach you a few basics to not only help you get comfortable with sales, but also be confident in sales.
Here are the four things you need to know about sales in order to win.
1. Sales is influence.
Sales isn’t about being pushy or aggressive. It’s simply about influencing someone about something you believe in. Do you have a close friend? That’s a sale. You influenced someone to let you into their inner circle. Are you married? That’s a really big sale! You convinced someone to spend the rest of their life with you! Did your kids eat last night? That’s closing a sale. You convinced your kids to eat their veggies. When you realize that sales is just influence and we are all in the business of sales every day, you can stop feeling weird about it and just start influencing.
2. Sales is a skill.
Many people think that being good at sales means you have to be energetic and extroverted. You’ve got to be fast-talking and outgoing. You’ve got to exude confidence and certainty and be completely immune to rejection. But that’s simply not true.
Sales isn’t a personality style that magically helps you make extra money. It’s a skill. It can be learned just like you learn to ride a bike or cook or anything else in life. In fact, some of the best sales people are those that are more quiet, genuine and thoughtful. People naturally trust them more because they are sensitive to others’ feelings. You don’t have to be loud and in someone’s face to close a sale. You just have to learn sales skills and be you.
3. Sales is sharing.
When I ask women how they feel about selling in their businesses, many of them say they feel uncomfortable. But then when I ask them why they love their business, they spill over talking at length about all of the many reasons that they love it.
For example, one photographer said to me, “Oh I love capturing families’ most important memories like weddings and new babies—moments and photos that they will treasure forever.” As she was talking, I wanted to book her right then! Don’t focus on closing the sale—just share your heart and your story and the sale will naturally follow.
4. Sales is serving.
When you go to a restaurant, a server serves you. When you go to your local coffee shop, the barista helps you. When you need or want something from a business, there is a sales person that takes care of you. We don’t think twice about paying for a latte as the buyer, but when it comes to selling ourselves in our own businesses, we get a little squirmy.
But your business is no different. If you have a gift (which you do) and you can offer that gift to help others in some way (which you can), then offering that gift isn’t selfish. In fact, I would argue that not offering your gift is selfish! People need what you have to offer, right now, today! So what are you waiting for? Start serving!
Sales isn’t about getting; it’s about giving. It’s not about harassing; it’s about helping. And it’s not about selfishness; it’s about serving. When you start to change the words you use to talk about sales, you’ll change your mind about sales as well. And when you change your mind, watch how your actions will follow. Before you know it, you’ll be selling with confidence and making extra money doing what you love.
#5 Time Management
“How am I supposed to do it all?”
The women I work with ask me about time management and the idea of “life balance” more often than almost any other topic. It makes sense when you think about it, because time is the most limited resource you have. You can get more of almost anything in this life, except time. You can make more money, seek out more relationships, or buy more stuff. But you can’t get a minute more than the exact same 24 hours in a day that every other person receives. Time is this great equalizer that puts us all on an even playing field.
Remember, even if you’re making extra money, time is the most limited resource you have, making it your most valuable asset. And since we all have the exact same amount, how we use our time is a major factor in our ability to be successful.
But I’ve noticed a common theme among women I work with who run their own companies or are looking to run a side business to make extra money. Maybe it’s true for you, too: Many people manage their time as if everything in their lives is created equally—their job, kids, spouse, health, side business, hobbies, friends, extended family, volunteering, church, and so on. All of those things are on the same level, treated equally and fighting for the limited amount of time that you have. So of course when two things compete, you feel anxious. When two areas of your life need you at the same time, you feel stressed. When two opportunities or requests are in front of you, your chest gets tight and you have knots in your stomach because you don’t know where to say yes and where to say no.
In these situations, you might—like many people—think you have a time problem. But you don’t have a time problem; you have a priority problem.
See, all the things in our lives—the demands on our time—are not created equally. Like Patrick Lencioni says, if everything is “important,” then nothing is important. The best thing you can do to relieve stress and anxiety in your life is to simply set your priorities and stick to them. What’s the most important thing to you? What’s the next most important? Instead of listing everything you care about in a linear fashion, make a pyramid hierarchy instead.
When you set your own list of priorities, the effect is immediate! Your stress eases, your shoulders relax, and you can take a deep breath. Best of all, decision making is infinitely easier. This one exercise removes so much of the mental angst you experience when you feel pulled in multiple directions!
Of course every single situation isn’t cut-and-dried, but overall, you’ll know how to spend your time because you’ve already decided what’s most important to you. And when push comes to shove, as it often does with our limited time, you’ll know what makes the cut and what doesn’t.
So how can you do “it all”? You can’t. But life balance isn’t about doing everything. It’s about doing the right things at the right time.
And at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.
Ready to start your business, or ready to take your business to the next level? Grab Christy Wright’s book Business Boutique: A Woman’s Guide for Making Money Doing What She Loves.