The impact of COVID-19 on American businesses has been significant, but women have been affected more than most. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, at the end of 2020, women’s jobs on non-farm payrolls were 5.3 million below February’s pre-COVID levels, compared with 4.57 million fewer non-farm payroll jobs for men.
This trend has been labeled a “shecession,” and, even as the economy seems to be heating up, no one really knows how long it will last.
One way for women to grab economic control of their lives back is to start a business. When I graduated from law school, I realized I couldn’t earn the money I wanted to pursuing a career working for someone else. So, I decided to start my own business.
Escape the Shecession
If becoming an entrepreneur is something you’ve considered, here are some tried and true startup tips:
Startup is Not Without Risks. In general, many women shy away from starting a business because they’re risk-averse and fear failure. Truthfully, you could fail. But you also could succeed—but you’ll never know unless you actually get started. I have succeeded in business—and I have failed. I know I will fail again. But I also know I will succeed again. And I will never stop trying.
Follow Your Passion. Starting a business consumes a lot of time and energy. Doing something you love makes it easier to commit that much of yourself. Of course, passion will only take you so far. There has to be a demand or need for your idea. And you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes, adding your own spin to an existing idea is enough to launch you on the path to success.
Tell Everyone You Know. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time on your startup, it’s important you let your family and friends know so that they can be there for you.
You should also make sure everyone in your extended network knows what you’re doing. You never know who you know that may have a connection to someone who can help you. Make sure to reach out to people in your chosen industry and others with relevant business experience, such as bankers or accountants.
Bootstrap. Business startup can be expensive. The less you spend upfront, the better you can conserve your cash flow. Here are some bootstrapping tips that can help you save money from the beginning:
- There are many businesses you can start that have low startup costs. Want to be a retailer? Start online. E-commerce businesses are the fastest-growing part of the retail industry.
- Start at home. Many businesses today operate from home, and technology makes it easier than ever to run a virtual company.
- Spend wisely. Don’t buy new equipment unless you absolutely must. There are plenty of places where you can purchase used equipment and save a lot of money.
- If you still have a job, consider starting part-time while hanging on to your job
- Don’t be in a rush to hire employees. If you need help, consider using freelancers or independent contractors.
Get Help and Find a Mentor. There is a lot of support for startups today. You can get free advice from Women’s Economic Ventures, SCORE, and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Your local community college may offer low-cost classes where you can take some courses in general entrepreneurship or bone up on marketing, management, or general accounting practices.
You can also join a women’s organization where you can connect with other women business owners.
Don’t give up. Success doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be persistent and patient. Yes, there will be bumps in the road. But stay focused, and chances are you can navigate through them.
Stay positive. I have two mantras I live by.
1—Do what it takes to achieve your vision and goals
2—Make time, show up, and act…no excuses.
Despite the economic uncertainty, this is an excellent time to start a business and escape the shecession.