It’s your time and your year; this is when you found the financing, the friend, and family support is strong and the optimal office space is available. You have the tools, the time and the tenacity to go out on your own, be the one taking and giving orders and managing your own business, even if it’s starting as a staff of one. And although the rental contract is signed, the legal paperwork filed and the supplies ordered, there are personal issues that can either hold you back or advance your entrepreneurial or professional career, depending on how you address them. Every female business owner and professional needs skills to push forward, advance a career and achieve career success, but these skills are not always easy to achieve.
What skills take you from standard to stand out in the business world and achieve career success?
1. The ability to network
As if spending 50 or 60 long hours a week in your new business isn’t enough, there’s networking. Going to conferences, meetings, professional dinners and charity events will take additional time. You’ll rarely be paid for any of these, and some of them require membership (the fees are often tax-deductible). It’s not about making money in these ventures, it’s about professional exposure. Your face, name and business venture are now a public entity. You’re a trusted and knowledgeable community leader. In the longer view, networking earns money, but it also builds respect among your peers.
2. Having both a sense of humor and a thick skin
Of course you’re serious about your new career venture. But you’ll spend a lot of time making mistakes, annoying people and blundering through a project or two. You can be invested in your mission and still make a joke about yourself. Clients will find it difficult to deal with someone who’s straitlaced and strait-faced all the time; it’s like talking to a telephone pole. In the age of taking care and caution when it comes to sexual harassment, use common sense mixed with humor when speaking to any client. And resilience in the face of setbacks and disappointments is the mark of a committed and competitive entrepreneur; your mental toughness takes you through the days when you’d rather burn your shingle than open your door.
3. Time management and the ability to delegate
Even at your business’ beginning, you’ll be busy; not necessarily with clients, but with paperwork and getting the day’s tasks and routines organized. The gift of delegation does not always require another person as the recipient. Sometimes you have to delegate tasks to yourself, moving them to another hour, day, week or month. Find a calendar method that works, whether it’s a paper planner or digital smartphone version. Start and end your day with that calendar. Make notes, allow sufficient flexibility for last-minute clients or meetings. And start the search for an office manager/assistant early; the hardworking, dedicated, no-task-is-too-small types are hard to find and worth every penny.
4. Communication & negotiation
The ability to speak and write well is paramount before you pursue new business. Take a public speaking course and a basic business writing skills class. You can cajole, charm and persuade a contract right out of a first client meeting, and you can do vivaciously, gracefully or deftly; but always perfect, as long as your communication skills are top notch. And the power center of your business, whether you’re an entrepreneur as a negotiator or a working professional, has an impact on everyone you meet, whether clients, vendors, peers or employees. Your ability to bargain on prices, supply dates, contract terms and employee benefit costs determines the financial health of your business and it will determine your professional and working relationships with clients, partners, and more.
5. Be willing to learn until you become a master, and keep learning
Those dinners, conferences, and lectures are good PR and building opportunities for any professional or entrepreneur, but they’re even better as a learning experience. You meet other entrepreneurs who have started as you are, with one person in a tiny office with hand-me-down furniture and the dream of becoming the best and best-known in their field. But there’s nothing like talking to them about the truly dark side of the downside of going it alone: worrying about making a half-dozen deadlines in one week, followed by no foreseeable work; wishful thinking about past vacations when you realize your money won’t buy a long weekend and all the pitfalls intertwined with the pride and joy of owning your own business. Professionals can continue their journey to achieve career success through professional development programs, designed to help them hone their current or new skills and become all they can be.
At Korey Howell Photography, we work hard to present the most professional you to honor and represent your new venture. Whether photographed in my studio or your office, you won’t just look ready to take on a new career, you’ll be ready. Contact the Korey Howell Photography studio today for information and to book a headshot appointment.