Excerpts of article first appeared on Huffington Post

 

So I’ve been on the dark side, the deep and desperate dark side of business ownership. I’m a woman and minority owned business so I can attest to the double whammy disadvantage that most women-owned businesses face. Don’t believe me? An American Express report noted that “women-owned businesses have average annual revenues of just under $155,000, far less than the $400,000 figure of the typical privately held business.” What’s worse: the same report asserts that a woman-owned business employs — on average — just one person in addition to the owner

 

I started Social Vibes Media, a digital marketing agency in NJ, with very little entrepreneurship experience or training. I left corporate and thought I was really great at what I did, failing to realize that entrepreneurship is the school of hard knocks.

 

For the first 1.5 years of business, these were my challenges:

  • I had few to no customers.
  • I worked isolated in my basement office apartment.
  • I tried to complete all tasks on my own.
  • I had no one to talk to about my business challenges.
  • I failed to do research and did not understand the market.
  • I felt bad charging people , especially friends and family.
  • I wasn’t making money to survive.

 

I was fed up with my challenges and said enough is enough!

 

So, I began to strategize my tactics, think about my work flow, and consider my options. I became a hustler baby. First, I forced myself out of my comfort zone and realized that if I wanted business I had to go after it. I forced myself to think like a business woman and not like a friend who grants her friends favors.

 

These were the steps I took to turn my business around:

  • I started going to local networking events and introducing myself to local business owners , without aggressively pitching my services, but simply building connections. Yes, this is called prospecting.
  • I forced myself to get out of the cave and into the wave. Ok, I’ll stop with the figurative language. What I really started to do was join associations and business organizations that aligned with my goals. I became a member of the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce , Women in Business Council, and NYPress Club. I also committed much of my free time to speaking engagements at several organizations like Rising Tide Capital, Abounding Women and NJCU.
  • I realized I couldn’t consume myself with every mienute task. I learned to delegate tasks to my team members and freelancers. Teamwork helped me strategize a bigger vision for my business.
  • I connected with industry leaders and individuals who’ve been successful entrepreneurs. I invited them for coffee and asked for their advice. These people became my mentors, my advisors, and part of my network of influence. They also helped me find customers and open other opportunities because they are so well connected.
  • I did my homework. Research , research , research. I researched my competitors prices, my buyer personas, and the market needs. I also took certification courses to help me become a better marketing strategist. I signed up for UDemy marketing courses as well as partner with HupSpot marketing Academy. Inbound certified, baby!
  • I had to get over the pity-party-pricing feeling to undercharge for my services.. If I wanted to be in business, I better produce some dinero.  I researched market value rates for my services and created a reasonable price sheet for my customers. I justified my prices because I did the research and I know the value in my product.
  • I made extra money and created more branding opportunities by networking my butt off. I partnered with several business owners on some fun projects where we all get to put our skills to the test.

 

All this is great when it happens, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes mistakes, maturity, and madness for you to get out of your comfort zone and figure things out. Don’t quit. Mistakes are part of the battle. What would the world be like without the Xenas’ of the world?