Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending an NYC Femfessionals meeting. Femfessionals is an organization that connects ambitious women to leverage their existing networks and create new ones in order to advance their city, business, and personal growth. As their website states, “A Femfessional is a savvy business woman characterized as positive, open-minded, driven, professional, ambitious and desirous of forming strong strategic connections with similar minded professional women to benefit each other personally and professionally and to benefit their community.”
The topic of the meeting was “How to Scale Your Business”. I think that both of the guest speakers, Nina Kaufman of Ask the Business Lawyer and Sarah Farzam of Bilingual Birdies did a wonderful job of sharing their entrepreneur journeys. The entrepreneur journey is never a linear path, but one filled with obstacles, opportunities, and learning experiences. Both Nina and Sarah learned important lessons along the way that helped them expand their businesses.
After working at a larger firm, Nina decided to go out on her own and started a law firm with a colleague. After a few years she realized that a business relationship, just like a personal relationship, isn’t always smooth sailing. Her only option was to close the doors and start over.
Starting over and seemingly losing 6 years of work caused her to stop and reflect. She realized that traditional education and working experience teaches you how to be an employee, not how to run a business. In order to grow a business that can expand and develop, you need to think ahead.
She condensed her learning experience into the following equation:
Teachable + Leverageable + Continual Revenue Stream = VALUE
You do not have to do everything at your business or company in order to achieve success. In actuality, you probably can’t do everything if you want to grow and expand your reach. Make sure your products and services are teachable so that you can pass the information and skills onto your employees. Automate tasks whenever possible. You do not have to do everything, and in order to expand you cannot do everything.
Put yourself and your business in a position to succeed. This of course depends on your niche market and how your service or product can address the needs of your customers. As Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the earth.” Nina also mentioned connecting with power players to influence your success. Connect with other businesses that can introduce you to more of your target audience and build legitimacy.
3.) Continual Revenue Stream
Ultimately, in order to maintain success, your business needs to be able to generate income in a regular and consistent basis to sustain you and your employees. Even if you have the most brilliant idea, if it results in unpredictable and fluctuating revenue you are in for trouble. Work on a way to make sure you receive steady business.
These three pieces ensure that your business has value that can be perpetuated and grown.
Sarah’s entrepreneur story was wrought with perseverance, innovation, and continual learning. She began teaching her bilingual music class to three children (2 of whom were her nieces!) and now Bilingual Birdies educates over 1,700 children per week in NYC. Here are some pieces of advice she shared:
1.) Don’t reinvent the wheel
Take what works and maximize it. Sarah saw successful music classes and private lessons and wondered how she could improve upon the model to bring even more value to the target audience. So, she added language, a skill that many parents want to start teaching their kids early on.
2.) Learn how to pivot
Nothing ever goes exactly the way that you planned. How you react to obstacles is the key to forward momentum- use what you can even if you must go in a slightly new direction. When preschools and schools began asking Sarah to bring Bilingual Birdies into the classroom, she was a bit hesitant. But after some thought, she saw that this was a continual revenue stream that would expand her audience and business model.
3.) How else can you serve your client?
Sometimes your vision is too limited. Doing birthday parties and private classes wasn’t part of business plan, but after a number of parents asked her if she provided the service, Sarah had to reconsider. If there was an opportunity in the birthday party market that wasn’t being filled, it was a ripe chance to build her brand and business.
4.) Use what you have
In the beginning, Sarah could not afford to hire a marketing team or find a studio. Barter the services you can provide for the resources you need.
Sarah epitomizes perseverance and ingenuity. She believed in herself and her business idea and worked hard to make it happen.
One of the most powerful things that Nina was that “your business should support your life, not run your life.”
Unfortunately, there are no do overs in life and you cannot hit the rewind button. Take each decision you make seriously and follow your passions, your instincts, and ultimately your happiness. Life should not be dictated by what you think you should do, but rather but what you want to do.
How does your business serve your life purpose?
Cara Murphy is Assistant Editor here at Under30CEO. She is also Associate Marketing Manager at the Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance and Managing Editor at Lifestyle and Charity Magazine. She can’t live without coffee, crossword puzzles, travel, and multi-tasking. Follow her @cmurphs12 for inspirational quotes and musings.