“One woman can change many things; many women together can change everything.”
Women for Women International
Today is the 101st anniversary of International Women’s Day, a day created to inspire women and celebrate achievements on a global level. The International Women’s Day tagline is Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures. So this post is dedicated to the thousands of girls and women that love their cameras, are passionate about photography, and want to use their passion to change the world.
According to the National Association for Women Business Owners, women own 40 percent of all privately held firms here in the US, imply more than 13 million people, and generate $1.9 trillion in sales. Yet most – 97 percent – have revenues below the million dollar mark. In other words, women create businesses to replace their “jobs” that aren’t flexible enough to allow them to do all they need to do, yet don’t have what it takes to grow them into serious money-generating businesses.
While the idea behind this post isn’t to help you create a seven figure business, creating a six figure business is more than doable, and is something you can strive for within a short period of time – two years or less. What should you put in place right now to help you grow to the six figure level?
Watch your numbers.
Do you know what your current profits are? Your ROI? Your net sales? Your cash flow? How about how much profit you make on each product and service you sell? The more you understand your numbers and watch how well your business is doing, the more you can change things as they happen to keep your business on a straight path. You don’t need an MBA in order to understand the financials. Use a great accounting system – I use Wave – which will make it easy for you to track and watch your reports. Or hire an accountant who can keep you up to date on what’s important, without having to learn the accounting details yourself.
Form an advisory group.
Successful business owners have advisory groups – both formal and informal – that help them through the intricacies of running a business. While men have long since understood the value of these groups, women are now catching up. An advisory group isn’t a networking group or a photography group. It’s a group of other like minded business owners that can help you evaluate what is happening in your business, and give you great advice because they aren’t too close to your business model. Its like extra sets of eyes giving you great advice when you simply can’t see the details of what is happening now. Form your own with business owners you know. Or head to your local chamber of commerce and ask around. There are many coaches in your community that provide advisory groups services – that’s how I found the one I’ve been in for close to 15 years.
Make use of contract workers.
You want to grow and expand. Yet do you really want to learn how to bring in your first employee? If you are at the stage where you could use a little help, but are a little nervous about bringing on someone who will rely upon you for income, try a contractor instead. With lots of people out of work or trying to make changes in their own lives, its easier than ever to find people to do the work for you.
First ask yourself where someone could help you the most. Is it creating letters and emails for your customer service strategy? Is it editing your images? Is it retouching? Is it follow up and staying in touch with your clients?Make a list of your most wanted items. Then number them – a #1 by the most important item, #2 on the next, and so on. Then find someone to help you accomplish your tasks. Virtual assistants are great at taking on your office work. You can find a Virtual Assistant through online VA resources, look through postings on Craigslist, or use job sites like Freelancer. Its easy to find people with the skills you are looking for. And because you can try them out on one job to see how they do, you have little risk involved. I’ve found great people this way that I’ve been working with for years.
Embrace new technologies.
When you are busy, its easy to fall into the trap of doing things the same way because you don’t have to think about it. So you jump in the car and run to the bank once a week to make deposits, or pull out your daily planner to take with you to meetings. By bypassing technology, you are actually putting yourself at more risk of falling behind. Spending the time to learn how to make electronic deposits and handling you banking chores by apps can literally save you hours each week. And understanding how simple systems like Google can mesh your various business functions together, allowing you to complete tasks in a fraction of the time, can put many hours back into your week. If you’re not sure how to use things, find someone who understands and have them teach you. Check out your local adult education classes or free universities. There are many ways to learn from other business owners that are doing it well.
Remember, this is business.
For women, business becomes personal. We’re afraid to “fire” an employee because she depends on us. Or “fire” a client because she demands too much of our time. We also feel the stress of having to turn down one thing in order to accomplish something else. If your child’s school is having a bake sale, you may worry about not supplying cupcakes for weeks! Its hard to put everything into the appropriate “pocket” and concentrate on what’s best for the business. Yet that is exactly what you need to do. Focus on the business first. Make sure you have dedicated time to run it without interruptions from outside sources. If you need to downsize from a full time employee to a part time, talk with them. They may be ready for a change and welcome a steady income, even if it is less per year than before. Business is business. And if you put priorities first and deal with whatever comes your way, you’ll end up being a stronger business woman that can take things and run with them, no matter what comes your way.