This week I had an amazing tour of the NextFab Studio facilities in South Philadelphia. Located at 20th and Washington Avenue, NextFab is a great resource for entrepreneurs manufacturing and designing goods. The resources available at NextFab are incredible and cutting edge, ranging from welding and woodworking equipment to embroidery and leather sewing machines to 3D printing. NextFab also offers an amazing array of classes to members and they have extremely affordable monthly memberships available. I am seriously considering getting one myself, who knows what kind of crazy creations I'll come home with.
Last night we co-hosted a Manayunk Business Social with our friends at McCollum Insurance Agency. It was a gorgeous afternoon and the deck of the Manayunk Brewery has amazing views this time of year. It was great to meet other business owners and support the Brewery, which had closed for a number of weeks after a flood in April.
If you're in Manayunk, watch for our next quarterly Business Social in mid-September!
I went to a great presentation last week. It was a chat with Amanda Steinberg, founder of DailyWorth.com. If you don't know, DailyWorth is a financial website marketed to women. Why do women need their own financial website? As Steinberg explained, women are shortly going to be inheriting most of the nation's wealth. Statistics show that women can be shockingly uninformed when it comes to investment details. Even wealthy women, who might at least know a 401K from an IRA, lack knowledge about the details of what funds they are invested in. DailyWorth seeks to inform women about money from a smart and fresh viewpoint.
Steinberg recounted how she started DailyWorth. You might be surprised to learn that DailyWorth was not her first business venture. Along the way she had some other hits and misses and in fact her family had become so used to her starting companies that when she felt she'd finally hit the nail on the head with DailyWorth they just patted her on the head. What was different about this business that made it so successful?
1) Steinberg's new business filled a burning need in the market;
2) she got coaching help from someone who had been down the road before;
3) she was totally authentic in this business.
What does all this mean? Before DailyWorth, there wasn't a great financial website out there geared toward women. Many women wanted to become more financially literate, but there was not a good resource that really addressed women's concerns.
Secondly, although Steinberg had extensive experience coding and launching websites, she had not before been involved with a site that generated money through ad revenue and provided solid content. She found another woman that had sold a lifestyle website for a ton of money and picked her brain about how she did it. Picking her brain cost around $5,000, but Steinberg felt she could not have had such a successful business without guidance.
Finally, Steinberg felt that she hadn't been able to completely be herself in prior jobs or business ventures. With DailyWorth she finally felt like she was able to be completely herself, leading to a sense of total authenticity in her work. If you've ever had a day job you hated because you felt like you had to smother your personality, you'll know what this feels like.
For me, the authenticity was the most surprising factor, but I realized that when I first left my employee life, I was so happy because I finally felt like I could be myself in my business interactions. I just didn't have a label for it. To recap: fill a burning need, get help and be authentic. A little luck doesn't hurt either.
If you work for yourself, you know the dilemma of taking a vacation: should you pay someone to work while you're away? If you can't pay someone else to do your job, do you bring work with you? If you're working while on vacation, is that really a vacation?
Being self employed makes taking vacations really difficult. Even if you manage to have someone work while you're away or you can bring some work to do on your trip, you still feel like you're losing ground. Here are some tips for the self employed to sit back and relax during vacation:
Before you leave:
While you're on vacation:
When you get home:
If in your former life you worked for someone else and had a steady paycheck, you know that at times your post-employee life has some real nail-biter moments.
At first, leaving your steady employment is pretty exhiliarating. Dreams of freedom, working from a beach with a pina colada in hand while taking a few breaks in the hammock run through your head. Mid-day runs to the gym, going to the post office when there isn't a line, grocery shopping in the middle of the day and cooking your kids pancakes on a Tuesday are all things you can do when you work for yourself and control your own schedule.
What no one tells you (except me, because I won't sugar coat anything), is that when you want to go to bed at 10pm but a client needs something by tomorrow morning, there's no one else to help you. Sallie Mae and your mortgage company won't wait for your client's check to arrive before sending you not-so-nice reminders that your payment is due. There's no boss to make sure you're always busy by giving you work. People have to know you exist in order to hire you, which means you have to always get out there and announce your existence.
And there will be doubt. As resolute and committed as you might be to your business, the doubts will always creep in. Should I have quit my job? Will I make enough money? Where will my next client come from? I tell anyone that will listen that the hardest part about being an entrepreneur is not mastering the running of the business, or keeping costs down, or finding great suppliers (though these things are important). The hardest part is keeping the doubts at bay. The constantly pushing the negative thoughts out of your brain so you can forge your own path and push past all the "what ifs" and "hows" and "oh shit" moments.
When you're an employee, the road ahead has likely been traveled and is pretty clear to you. When you're on your own, you're paving the path every day. Some days, it'd be nice to be able to see the road a little more clearly, or maybe hit the cruise control and coast for a bit. You can't do that when you own a business. Just enjoy the ride.
Sarah E. Holmes is a Philadelphia business attorney and strategist that helps start ups and established businesses looking to expand, protect their assets and increase their profits in an approachable, down-to-earth way. When you're looking for a business lawyer in Philadelphia, the Main Line or New Jersey, we can help.