So many of the entrepreneurs I work and speak with are women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s with awesome business-building ideas and the intellectual and network capital to make it happen. Some are first-time entrepreneurs; others are serial entrepreneurs; others are transitioning from corporate roles to entrepreneurship or from being a CEO in one industry to a founder or C-level executive in another.
While many of the women ask me practical “how-to” questions directly related to commercializing their ideas or launching their businesses, all of the women talk about the challenges they face after they begin living as entrepreneurs.
One of the most common success strategies used by these women has been executive coaching. Coaching helps them work through career transitions and become more effective leaders without sacrificing authenticity. Linda Townsend, of Townsend Coaching Partners, recommends these four steps for those making the transition to entrepreneurship.
Build a strategic network. Thriving through a transition takes a village. Take the time to build and cultivate a network of people that can help you predict, prepare for, and be successful in the version of the future in which you want to live. “A strategic network helps you define your vision of the future,” says Townsend. Actively develop relationships with people who can act as information sources both inside and outside of your target industry. Look to your strategic network to give you candid answers, discuss your ideas, guide you through rough patches, and help you make smart trade-offs.
Create a clear vision of the future. It’s time to step outside of your comfort zone. “Assume anything is possible,” Townsend says.
- Start by asking yourself big-picture questions such as, “What contribution do I want to make to the world or to my business?”
- Make a list of your role models, and the characteristics in them that you most admire.
- Make a list of your core values and your own definition of success.
- Then bring all of these big insights together to develop a mission statement that is a true reflection of the person you aspire to be. Do not retreat back to your current reality of what you already know.
- Once you have a statement that is a reflection of the future you, memorize it and practice saying it out loud.
Put a plan together to achieve your vision. You are ready to live the future version of you. Start by creating a plan to achieve your vision.
- Write down 3-5 targeted objectives. For each objective, list the concrete actions you will take to achieve it.
- Check in frequently to ensure that you are on the right track. Create metrics that will help you measure how you’re doing. Ask yourself if you are getting closer to achieving your vision through the actions you are taking. By analyzing your progress on a regular basis, you can make adjustments as necessary without investing too much time, energy, or money in the wrong activities.
- Check in with your strategic network to help you develop and hone your plan. If you find yourself stuck on this step, consider investing some time and money in working with a coach.
Establish a routine of healthy habits. We women are multi-taskers. We are busy, mostly due to the roles we play in other people lives. While it’s great that we can get a lot done at once and help a lot of people along the way, we tend to not take the time to take care of ourselves. Townsend warns, “Just like you don’t take medication every once in a while, if you don’t practice self-care every day, you are doing more harm than good.” The things you need to sustain the busy and demanding life of an entrepreneur are often really basic: Getting 8 hours of sleep each night, doing 20 minutes of exercise every day, doing something creative and fun, and connecting with the people you care about.