Friday, May 5, 2023

5 Unexpected Life Changes You Might Experience When Starting a Business


BY IVAN POPOV • APR 17, 2023

Running a business sometimes has an unpredictable effect on our lives — but the more we are aware of all the possible takeaways, the easier it would be to overcome each obstacle along the way.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Starting a business is a goal many people pursue at some point in their lives. Once we see the potential in us and grow to believe in our expertise, we begin considering what would it be for us to start fresh and become our own boss. As intriguing and exciting as it may sound, sometimes business ownership arrives with unexpected life changes we haven't seen coming.

Oftentimes I've spoken about what we need to be prepared for business-wise — things like saving up for initial investments, finding the perfect business niche and learning how to spot great employees are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fully submerging ourselves in the world of entrepreneurship. With time, we usually learn how to adapt and overcome obstacles along the way that are strictly work-related, but what about the certain amount of change we'd be witnessing during our outside-of-office hours?

Truth be told, it would be rather naïve on our part to believe that such a huge event like starting a business won't affect our personal and social life in any way. That's why I've decided to shed some light on five unexpected life changes you might witness once becoming a business owner. It's better to be prepared and informed instead of being taken off guard.

1. Your professional and personal lives will inevitably mix

Right at the beginning of my CEO journey, I assumed the biggest hardships I'm about to witness would revolve around the establishment of my company. Details like building a portfolio, finding the best employees and getting our work out there took a considerable amount of my time, and yet I knew quite well this is what the road ahead is supposed to look like. As busy as it got, I was somewhat prepared — after all, the majority of aspiring entrepreneurs have a good understanding of how their professional life is about to change once they step into the world of business ownership.

But here's the thing — our professional and personal lives are so intertwined that is almost impossible for one not to affect the other.

Feeling constantly overwhelmed, the long working hours, the overall work-related pressure and stress and monitoring how's your business going on weekends are simply a small part of all business-related consequences that might affect our outside-of-office hours. Naturally, we'd feel pressured by time and deadlines and this could cause disruptions in the way we choose/can to spend our free time. What's more, all those predispositions may lead to somewhat unexpected changes in our lives that we couldn't see coming and may bring discomfort and struggle in the area.

2. You may notice your social circle shrinking

As disturbing as it may sound, many entrepreneurs (especially right at the beginning of their career journey) share that their friends appear to be drifting away from them once they launched their gigs.

There could be numerous reasons for this: For instance, people from your social circle might feel neglected or as if you've chosen work over spending quality time with them. Another possible, yet bitter option, is that they might start witnessing their lack of development as now you're skyrocketing your own business.

Whatever the reason is, your social circle shrinking is a plausible outcome of your entrepreneurial goals — and it's better for you to be prepared, just in case. Honest and open conversations about how each person feels usually help get rid of the issues and misunderstandings and you can all salvage the relationship.

3. New people may come into your life and stay for good

Usually, when people opt for business establishments, they need to communicate with fellow entrepreneurs, clients, prospective investors, etc. The more you put yourself out there and attend networking events, the higher the chance is for you to widen your social circle and let newcomers appear. More often than not, relationships built on mutual business interests tend to last for long as people share experience and expertise, while also providing support and guidance.

4. You might find it extra hard to keep a balance between work and personal life

When we are employed, we usually treasure our time off from work and look forward to it, but things change when we lead our own business. You might find it hard to juggle between opening your laptop and checking that minor detail on a Sunday afternoon even though it could wait until Monday, especially at the beginning.

In the long-term, this lack of balance and fruitful relaxation time could have a tremendous effect on your mental health as you'd find yourself always being at work subconsciously. So it's important to set certain standards for yourself when it comes to taking some time off and enjoying life outside of the office.

5. You might experience a change of heart when it comes to your career

Some people find out business ownership is not as enjoyable as they thought it was and prefer getting back to being employed. Others might enjoy running an enterprise in general, but realize their desired niche is not the one they primarily chose. All those instances, even though troublesome at first, are a good thing — it's the ultimate path toward self-discovery and paving one's way to a successful career that aligns with who they are.

Of course, all those are assumptions — as often as they may appear, some entrepreneurs never face obstacles and difficulties of this sort. It doesn't hurt to be prepared though — owning a business isn't merely about running some numbers and never expecting anything to be different. At the end of the day, change helps us grow.

Ivan Popov


CEO and Tech Lead of Vipe Studio
Ivan Popov serves as the CEO of Vipe Studio, which establishes and maintains WordPress-based websites for enterprises and SMEs. He is always curious about technology, web and software development, WordPress, sports, journalism, leadership, entrepreneurship and all things mental health.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Self-Employment Rises Among Women, Surpassing Pre-Covid High

Written by: Ryan Derousseau
Senior ContributorDT

Self-employment among women has jumped to pre-Covid highs, after a period of significant decline.GETTY

Self-employed women, broadly speaking, felt the full brunt of the Covid downturn at greater numbers than nearly any other group. The rate of self-employed mothers working at least 30 hours a week, for instance, dropped by more than 40% in one month from March to April 2020, according to Federal Reserve data. The rates of self-employed fathers working at least 30 hours a week dropped by 18% in comparison.

That number has reversed, according to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. In the years that followed the initial Covid surge, the number of women and mothers that have chosen the self-employment route has steadily increased, rising faster than rates of men and fathers.

Women now represent nearly 40% of all self-employed individuals, up from 34% in 2016. By August 2022, the number of self-employed women with children surpassed pre-Covid numbers as it sat 8% higher than rates seen in January 2020. These rates jumped even higher among women of color.

“As the rate of self-employment grows for all women, and especially for those of color, their businesses will have an increasingly large impact on the economy,” wrote Emily Ryder Perlmeter, a senior advisor in community development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Rates Fell During Hard Times

A reason that self-employment rates dropped further for women during the Covid recession also highlights holes within the parental safety-net. Childcare proved to be a significant cause of the decline amongst women who had children and were self-employed.

“Child care burdens in the United States fall disproportionately on women, which means that self-employed mothers were more likely than fathers to take time off to focus on at-home schooling,” wrote Perlmeter. “For another, women-owned firms were more likely than those owned by men to be in a financially precarious position prior to the pandemic.”

Women-owned firms without employees had an almost identical chance of operating at a loss as they did operating with a profit – 37% to 39% – in the months leading up to the pandemic. With little room to maneuver and familial demands that fell more on women than men, women-led, self-employed businesses suffered.

When dealing with issues that have large, societal reasons for existing – like the oft expectation that when stuff goes awry, it’s the mother not the father that will stay home with the kids – you cannot fix it through personal finance solutions. But you can fix your own susceptibility to the burden through personal financial tactics. It’s where honing that focus during times of relative strength (or less concern) can have significant benefits if something unexpected occurs again.

One important strategy is to try and build an emergency fund that covers expenses in case your work slows or you have to take time away for a short period. While let’s hope there’s not another Covid-like experience in our lifetime, you will likely experience shocks to your self-employment, in good economic conditions and bad. These shocks can come in the form of slower business, health concerns or parental duties. But having 3-6 months of monthly pay that you store in an easily accessible business savings account – separate from your personal account – will ensure you do not have to derail your self-employment company at the slightest sign of adversity.

The other tactic: make sure to diversify your clients.

Often, when someone in self-employment struggles, they have only one way to charge or attract clients. They serve one specific sector or only produce one type of product or service. But having multiple types of clients, across different sectors, needing different services or tools will ease this stress.

Outside of a Covid-esque derailment, while one part of the business lags, other parts of the business can be used to make up the shortfall.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Entrepreneurship Over the Last 35 Years — and How We Can Change the Future for Women Business Owners

Written by: Sharon Miller
President of Small Business and Head of Specialty Banking & Lending
Sharon Miller is the president of Small Business and head of Specialty Banking and Lending, which includes overseeing Consumer Vehicle Lending, at Bank of America. In addition, she is a member of the company’s management operating committee.

Celebrating 35 years of women's entrepreneurship and taking a look at what more needs to be done to pave the way for a successful generation of future women leaders and entrepreneurs.

With Women's History Month upon us, it's important that we honor, celebrate and recognize the impacts women entrepreneurs make across the business world. Women business leaders play an essential role in their local communities, our economy and the world at large. They serve as a vital part of the world's economic engine and empower the next generation of women to reach their goals as entrepreneurs.

Women made strides toward equality and advanced their mark on business in 1988 when The Women's Business Ownership Act was passed. This act, which was supported by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), was created to address the needs of women by eliminating lending practices by banks that made business ownership more difficult for women than men.

This year, as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of The Women's Business Ownership Act as well as Women's History Month, it's important to pay respect and acknowledge our history and recognize its impact on the present. There is still work to be done as we can pave the way for a successful generation of future women leaders and entrepreneurs.

A look back at women's entrepreneurship over the last 35 years

More than three decades ago, the process to start a business changed for the better for women. The Women's Business Ownership Act was passed and empowered women entrepreneurs across the country to pursue their business goals. Prior to its passage, women business owners were required to have a man related to them as a co-signer on their business loans. The act helped reduce discrimination based on gender and allowed women to access capital to start a new business or fund their existing business.

There has been a significant increase in women-owned businesses since that milestone event. A few years after its passage, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. reached 6.4 million in 1992 — this represented one-third of all domestic firms and 40% of all retail and service firms, according to the United States Census. As of 2019, the number of women-owned businesses has doubled to nearly 13 million (representing 42% of all U.S. businesses), and a 2022 study showed that over the past three years, the number of women entrepreneurs grew by 48% year-over-year, which outpaced their male counterparts by 22%.

How we change the future for women business owners

Though we've made great strides over the last 35 years, women continue to face greater challenges than their male counterparts — for example, access to capital remains a critical issue for women and minority business owners. According to Bank of America's 2022 Women and Minority Business Owner Spotlight, nearly one-third of women business owners do not believe that women will ever have equal access to capital, and for those who do, they believe on average it will take nine years to achieve equal access. Clearly, we still have much progress to achieve.

To help overcome the disparity in access to capital, women need support and resources to navigate the capital landscape and identify potential sources of funding, such as equity, debt and grant capital. Banks have a responsibility to provide accessible capital solutions. There are a number of resources available right now that many women business owners don't know about. For example, in 2021 Bank of America launched the Access to Capital Directory for Women Entrepreneurs to help connect women to organizations that provide funding for women-owned businesses. Additionally, the Bank of America Institute for Women's Entrepreneurship at Cornell provides the opportunity for women to earn a certificate in business from the Ivy League university. The bank has also recently launched a public marketplace to support and showcase women-owned businesses that participate in programs to drive women's entrepreneurship.

Mentorship can also make a considerable difference in your professional growth. Over the years, I've learned the importance and value of this, both as a mentor and a mentee, and how much more can be achieved when you pay it forward and help lift other women up. This can be done through providing programs and materials, serving as a confidant to a peer or encouraging women to look into new, educational resources.

Education will continue to be key as women work to achieve full equality in business. Whether it's learning about business tactics or how to apply for grants, women must use every available resource to enhance their knowledge and reach as they begin their business endeavors. Through collaboration with fellow women and business partners, they can enhance efficiency, strengthen financial knowledge and deploy their creativity that takes their businesses to unseen levels of new success.

Many women business owners face challenges daily, but they continue to overcome adversity and remain dedicated — as we've observed over the last 35 years. I have especially seen this in my personal and professional life. We have a lot to celebrate, but I am even more excited and exhilarated to see what we accomplish in the next 35 years.