Alisa Ahlstone Lewis, Founder, Sweet Peas & Stilettos
By Alisa Ahlstone Lewis
Read Alisa Ahlstone Lewis’ earlier three posts in this four part series on starting a business: How to Start Your Own Business: Identify “Your Big Idea,” Make Your Idea a Reality: Starting Your Own Business and 10 Business Basics For Starting Your Own Business.
So you are off and running, heading down the highway at light speed, doing it all -- or at least, trying to do it all. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way on my entrepreneurial adventures:
- Establish a regular work schedule that will work for you. I work on my business about 5 nights a week from 9 pm to midnight. It has become my second workday. When my son still napped (I miss those days!), I used those extra few hours on weekends, too.
- Set mini goals and celebrate along the way. When I got my content loaded into my site, my husband and I enjoyed a bottle of champagne. When my site went live, I splurged a little at J.Crew. You get the idea.
- Know everything will take 3-4 times longer to get done than you planned. You just don’t realize how much there is to do, and it all takes time.
- Realize up front that starting a business will likely cost 2-3 times more than you think it will. Make a budget and know up-front how much money you are willing to invest -- and know what you can really afford. I was hoping to stay under $5000, and it just proved to be impossible.
- Recognize that you will have to shift gears – things won’t be perfect out of the gate. All the planning and organizing in the world won’t put you on a completely steady course. There will be a lot of ramps and potholes along the way, and a few detours, too. Don’t let a few bumps in the road get you discouraged.
- Learn to compartmentalize your life. From 9 to 5 (or 8 to 7), focus 100% on your day job. Don’t get sidetracked. Be in the moment. Be present -- and don’t check emails for your company while you are at work. When you are with your family, focus on them 100%, and keep the Blackberry out of sight. When you are working on your company, focus on your company.
- Define your priorities and stick to them. I knew that my son was my number one priority. I wanted to start a company without impacting the time I had with him. With my 9 pm to midnight work schedule I was willing to give up watching "The Hills" and "American Idol" (or at least until they were down to the final 8). I would "multi-task" only to watch "The Bachelor." Somehow I convinced myself it was market research.
- Try to create balance in your marriage. Check in with your husband or partner to make sure he is supportive of you every step of the way.
- Find a network of other women who are striking out on their own too. There are many working moms out there supporting one another.
- Outsource whatever you can afford to give you some much needed time and peace of mind. You can usually justify outsourcing the house cleaning and gardening knowing you can spend that time on your company. And you are creating jobs for others!
- Check in with yourself, your family and friends regularly to evaluate the impact of juggling two jobs with everything else in your life. I realized I hadn’t seen my closest friends in months. I took a few weeks off to catch up with my friends, have people over for brunch, host a swim party, and just live and breathe. It really helped me recharge my batteries.
- Every two or three weeks do a sanity check about how you are performing in your day job. Make sure you are still working hard and delivering there, too.
- Be patient…success takes lots of hard work and perseverance. You have to really want it. Success will happen eventually if you truly love what you are doing.
Best wishes to you on your road trip to entrepreneurial success.
Alisa Ahlstone Lewis is the AVP of change management for a national insurance company, as well as the president of Sweet Peas & Stilettos – The Modern Mommy Guide.