Have you always dreamed of starting your own business? Delving into the world of entrepreneurship can be daunting, however, more and more women are taking the leap of faith. One peek at our ‘Coffee & Conversation’ series, and you’ll see that women just like you are thriving in business. Make 2014 your year to follow your dreams and start a business doing what you love.

Here are a few tips on how to get started:

Prepare yourself for the jump into entrepreneurship – The life of a sole proprietor can be two things, emotionally draining and very time consuming. The time commitment can range from 25 -70+ hours a week, so be prepared. As women, we tend to multitask and take on more than we can really handle. In order for your business to succeed, you will need to devote the time and effort to grow your business. If there are too many responsibilities on your plate, you may eventually lose passion and focus. Having said that, don’t wait for the perfect time to start, because there is no perfect time. Just ensure your schedule will permit the work load it takes to reduce your stress along the way!

Find the Why – Before you start a new business, ask yourself: why am I doing this? Write down the 3 biggest reasons on a piece of paper and save it or hang in on the wall next to your desk. When you are having a rough day or trying to remember why you quit your job to make it on your own, remind yourself why you started in the first place. We all need a little motivation at times.

Do your research – One of the most important parts of starting a new business is to do your research. Know your competitors better than anyone. Once you know what the competition is doing, you can accurately assess your market and whether your business will be sustainable. Research will also help you learn the appropriate amount of money to put into your business and how to fill the market gaps.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help – You may think that being an entrepreneur means learning to do everything on your own. It’s important to remember that, there are plenty of other women out there who are willing to provide helpful feedback for new startups. Find a mentor who you feel comfortable asking for advice and you may be surprised how willing they are to help. You can also pull from your social circle because when it comes to learning new skills, your friends may have a lot to offer. In the end you will be happy you asked for the help and the more you talk about your business, the more clients/customers you will develop organically through word of mouth.

Create a Business Plan – Creating a business plan will be an absolutely essential part of starting your new business. You may think it won’t be necessary, but starting a company without a business plan is like taking a road trip without a map. Establishing clear directions for every aspect from your target market to services, is important in following through and being prepared. A business plan is also required for any type of financial assistance. There are plenty of business plan templates online. Check out Small Business BC or Community Futures for excellent information and resources.

Value your time and talents – Unfortunately, studies show that women are less likely than men to self-promote and are more likely to undercharge for their services. So, keep in mind although you may love your new career, it’s still important to charge what your worth and promote, promote, promote!

Find a mentor at Elletourage – sign up for free to connect with like-minded women in business!