“But can I really do it?” asked Di in our recent coaching call. Di has been thinking about becoming a Corporate Crossover® (a woman who leaves her job to start her own business) for over a year. She contacted me to help her with the business planning and transition.
Di’s question is common for anyone thinking of crossing over. Popular media would have us believe that to be successful at running our own business, we should have been doing deals in the playground at school, and that we have been born with the traits to be the next Sir Richard Branson or Lord Sugar. Sadly, this view can permeate a budding entrepreneur and halt their entry into business ownership.
Recently I interviewed over 100 women, still working who wanted to start their own business. Even though they were eager to escape their corporate jobs, they still hesitated. When I probed more deeply, they were scared.
Overall their fear could be distilled into the following:
- Fear they won’t make any money
- Fear they wont be a success
- Fear they don’t have the right skills to do it
So my new client, Di, was articulating the fear common to everyone who starts out, the questioning of could they really do it…bring an idea to life and to create something out of nothing?
For my recent books, I conducted a large piece of quantitative research of 300 Corporate Crossovers in the UK and US. I also held in depth interviews with 50. From these pieces of research and my work with over 1,500 women business owners, I have discovered the seven essential personal qualities of a successful businesswoman.
Top of the list is Passion
You need to have total and utter belief that what you are doing is worth it. A feeling of being so in love with your idea and the value it will bring to others that you can feel it. This is your strong reason why. Why you are doing this, why it exists and why it’s worth it.
Equally important is to be passionate about running your own business. Passionate about being in charge, making the decisions and operating a business.
Next is Determination
The determination to make their business a success, to persevere when it seems that luck is against them, to do whatever it takes to build the business. Many people may begin businesses but those who succeed are those that keep perservering. It is not giving up at the first, third or even the tenth rejection but carrying on until you get what you want. You know that a ‘yes’ is key to the success of your business and realisation of your passion, so you don’t give up until you get it.
Optimistic Corporate Crossovers reflect on their successes instead of their failures. Set backs, rejection, slower than forecast sales dented them but not for long. They also look for the benefit and opportunities in every situation, thinking of their business goal and how can this situation enhance it. They will see opportunities where others won’t.
Optimism also fuels their activity. The belief that they control their environment and make things happen when they are out there, mean they are active, creating opportunities and momentum.
Critical to any successful business is an attitude of customer love. Forming great relationships with prospects and then forging stronger relationships as they become customers. Many of the women I spoke to emphasised the importance of developing deep and strong relationships with all customers. They enjoyed long term client relationships and also referrals over time. Taking pride in their work and going the extra mile to ensure that customer was delighted and didn’t start to consider competitors.
Staying close to your customers also means that you are that much more informed about their needs and how the market may be shifting. In many cases the business you start may be different to one that you are running a few years later. The need to be nimble, to be observant is an essential quality.
Push – Hard Work
When you are setting up your business you are creating something out of nothing. You are establishing a brand in a competitive market place, creating a presence, building a sales pipeline, getting prospects to know, like and trust you and your offering. Starting up your own business can feel like you are working harder than ever before. As you become established, you may be working longer hours than you have for some time, and earning far less money than when you worked. This stage of building the business is like getting a jumbo jet off the ground. You need far more fuel and a leap of faith that you will get that 450,000 kg metal object off the ground, than when you are cruising comfortably at 35,000 ft.
Opportunities are everywhere but you have to be fearless to grab them! Starting and running your own business will push and pull at every part of your comfort zone. You will have to put yourself out there in ways you haven’t imagined. There is no company or brand to lean on anymore, no sales department to bring in the business. It is now completely up to you.
I believe that these qualities can be acquired over time if you really want them. Starting and running your own business is like going on a never ending personal development programme, you will be stretched and tested constantly. Over time you will grow as your business does.
About Wendy Kerr
With a 20-year career in multi-national blue chip organisations, Wendy has specialised in creating and launching new businesses around the world with companies such as Apple, FT and Intuit.
A Corporate Crossover® herself, Wendy left her corporate career to create a successful 6 figure coaching and consulting business running it from London and Tokyo. She works with leaders of high growth, global technology companies. Clients include; Expedia, IBM, and Betfair.
Wanting to change the way work works, she has also mentored and fueled over 1,500 women to create a business that allows them to live the life they love.
Her company, Corporate Crossovers®, enables women wherever they are in their journey of leaving their job to start their business successfully, providing them with workshops, tools, and mentoring. She is a best selling author of two books; ‘Corporate Crossovers®; when it’s time to leave the office and start your own business’, and ‘My new business; a busy women’s guide to start up success’.