If Your Dreams Don’t Scare You, They Aren’t Big Enough – Guest Contributor Abbey Slitor
ATFDC would like to introduce you to our new guest contributor Abbey Slitor. Abbey will be sharing her current fashion and style obsessions in addition to an exclusive All Things Fashion DC entrepreneur series based on her experience launching Social Market. This is her first piece for ATFDC.
by ATFDC Guest Contributor Abbey Slitor
Would I agree that this is true? Absolutely! The thought of being a single woman entrepreneur at the age of 30 was (and still can be) terrifying. I use the word “terrifying” to purely express to you those moments of “Oh $#!@” or “Healthcare costs WHAT?” and a personal favorite, “Do I even know what I’m doing?”
Optimism, confidence and a good dose of fear are perhaps the most important qualities for anyone starting their own business. I knew I could professionally make the jump; but things like paying the bills, fulfilling my designer clothes addiction, driving my luxury vehicle and residing in my fab downtown apartment without a steady income was rather worrisome. Working in fashion PR drove my bank account to be fully invested in my image. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, “I like my money where I can see it…hanging in my closet.”
Overcoming these fears was a challenge that I wasn’t sure that I was ready to face. Going out on my own was always something that I had thought about doing. However, no time ever seemed like the right time. I always felt that I needed MORE experience, MORE on my resume, MORE money, MORE connections, MORE, MORE, MORE, MORE! I’m going to let you in on a little secret…there is never a “right” time! If you wait for the “right” time, it will never happen. These fears evolved into a battle against my worst enemy, myself.
What pushed me to take the jump was a piece of very candid advice I received from a dear friend of mine; “Just do it. What’s the worst that could happen, you have to find a job?” I digested what he said and realized he was right. There, in that one question, was the answer to my conundrum: simple, clear and matter-of-fact. There was nothing terrible that could come out of this. The only terrible thing I could think of was the thought of waking up years from now wishing that I HAD taken that chance. I was not about to let that happen.
Eight months ago I started the communications firm, Social Market. Eight months later, I am still here and wouldn’t change it for the world. My entire outlook on life, both on a personal and professional level, has changed drastically. NOTHING compares to the feeling of independence that comes with being self-employed. I am not speaking of ‘independence’ in a way that allows you to stay at home all day and watch TV. I am using the word independence to emphasize creative freedom, unrestricted thought, making a difference in any way that you can, experiencing the unknown, working for yourself to make money for yourself. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience.
Yes, my weekly manis/pedis went out the window. I had to learn how to make my own coffee instead of swinging into Starbucks. Do I miss my air-conditioned seats in my car every once in a while? Yes. But, do I miss it enough to go back? Absolutely not!
I think we can all agree that hindsight is 20/20. I hope that my hindsight becomes your foresight into taking your own jump.
- MONEY – SAVE IT, SAVE IT, SAVE IT! I can’t stress this enough.
- MONEY – CONSOLIDATE! How do you save more money? Get rid of all of your financial burdens that are not essential for living. Below are a few suggestions. Believe me, you won’t miss them as much as you think you will. I promise!
- TV: Switch from Cable to Hulu Plus: $80/month vs. $7.99/month
- CAR: If you have a car that is paid in full, great! If not, (and you still have a considerable amount to payoff) consider selling your car and getting something more affordable OR use public transportation, Zip Cars, Car to Go and Uber to get around town.
- DEBT: If you have outstanding balances on credit cards, pay them off prior to leaving your job. You do not want your personal ‘debt to income’ ratio to tarnish your ability to build your business credit. Your bank that you use for your personal accounts will be a great partner for your business accounts. Maintain that relationship and make sure your payments are on time.
- CLOTHING: Once you go out on your own, you will not need 15 suits of the same color, 20 button downs, 30 blazers and 8 pairs of cropped black pants. Go through your closet and I mean REALLY go through it. Slim down your assortment to your basics. Take those clothes and sell what you can on EBay, SnobSwap (another FAB DC woman owned business) or consign. Take the money you make and put it towards your business. If you have items you can’t sell, then donate to Goodwill. Although you don’t get money for donating, you do get a receipt that will help you on your tax returns.
- BEAUTY: No more massages, no more expensive haircuts and no more weekly manis/pedis. I’m not saying you have to go to your local Hair Cuttery, but there are plenty of salons in the area that do not charge $100(+) for a trim. Manis/Pedis are great, but use them as maintenance once a month as opposed to your means of changing your polish once a week.
- BUSINESS PLAN: This is an important step in defining your business. What do you do? What services do you offer? What is your focus? These are questions that you are going to be asked all the time. Make sure you have a very clear and defined answer for each of those questions. Your business plan is a living/breathing document. It can change at any time. Think of it as the brain of your business. This is a critical step if you are going to be seeking financing through a bank or through investors. They require you to have this. Need help? Look HERE.
- BRAND: Start to think about your business name, logo and brand while working on your business plan. This will allow you to purchase your domain name, register all of your social media sites as well as design your business cards.
- REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS: I recommend you start this process early as a follow up to #4. You need your company name in order to register your business. I registered my business in DC and it took 3.5 months to get my Tax ID number and 4 months to have my business officially registered. I operated for 3.5 months without my tax ID number. Without this, I was not able to open a business bank account, which caused some issues. You MUST start this process early! I registered my business through Legal Zoom. They become your registered agent and take care of all of your paperwork.
- HEALTH CARE: Do not live without it. Understand how much it is going to cost you on a monthly basis without help from a corporate entity. I used eHealth Insurance to compare rates.
- FIND A MENTOR: This is one of the most important things you can do. I recommend finding someone that has been in business for around 2 years. That way, their startup highs and lows are still very fresh in their mind and they can help you navigate your way through yours.
In the next post, we will be taking a look at those first few months after taking the jump! Questions, thoughts or just want to say “hello”? Feel free to EMAIL me! Would love to hear from you.
*Quote by Lowell Lundstrum.
Abbey is the owner of Social Market, a communications firm that specializes in marketing, public relations and social media. She is also the Editor of DCprGIRL, a blog about life and style in our nation’s capital. Follow Abbey on Twitter @SocialMarketDC and @DCprGRL