Everyone daydreams about going out on their own. About controlling their own hours and working on something they’retruly passionate about. We hear success stories of those who took the leap and made it big. Stories inspiring enough to make even the happiest office worker want to put in their notice and start brainstorming twee startup names. But more often than not, we remind ourselves that we’re comfortable where we are, with the stability of a consistent paycheck. But what if you’re not happy with your job—and you actually have an incredible idea for a business? Should you go for it?
We caught up with Above the Glass co-founders Heather Serden and Danielle Yadegar to learn exactly when is the perfect time to start your own thing. Started by Serden and Yadegar when the two childhood friends noticed there was little content available for female entrepreneurs, Above the Glass is an incredible website that’s chock full of free informative and professional tools and resources that can help you get your venture off the ground.
Both successful entrepreneurs in their own right, Serden and Yadegar often consult for new and up-and-coming businesses, and it’s safe to say that they’re experts in their fields. Read on for their helpful tips.
How do you know when you have a unicorn idea—when there’s enough to your plan to actually create a company and career—versus a more short-term, project-based idea?
We don’t really believe you can tell when you have a unicorn idea. We think you should just get out there and start, have a side hustle, test the market, test the product, once you see a really strong indication that people need what you have to give them, dive in.
Women tend to be very methodical, and want to have everything set in stone. But you can’t really plan for something to be a unicorn! You’ve got to just go for it.
Write it all down—all of your ideas and projections—then use our business plan tool. You should know your market size, product, and who your competitors are. In most instances it’s a bad one [idea], sometimes it’s a good one. Always write it down, and then you figure out who your customers are, your go-to-market strategy.
So many women out there are searching for something more than the typical desk job—but they’re not quite sure what they’re passionate about. How do you recommend people find their niche or their unique talent that’s a business-making opportunity?
It’s not a glamorous thing to start [a business], it’s an all-consuming, exhausting, powerful thing. Don’t start a business because you want to start a business—start because you have an idea. Know what you like, see if you can find something that speaks to you. If you don’t have an idea, it’s probably not a good idea to start something It’s important to constantly interact and get inspired by other people’s ideas. People get complacent with their cushy desk jobs, and they’re not exposed to opportunities that make them lucky and give them ideas. You have to get out there to get luck! Have lunch with someone at another company at least once a week. It’s so easy to get stuck in your bubble. We talk a lot of having an open network, and it’d be really easy to work within our network. So we push ourselves to talk to people outside of our industries to work outside our own network. It’s so much more inspiring to be around people who have a fresh perspective.
What’s the one thing that first-time founders always underestimate or don’t plan properly for?
Everything! It costs twice as much and takes twice as long—and then it takes more than that. There’ a lot of stress and pressure to start a business. It’s not for the faint of heart.
But when you really love what you do, it’s amazing. We have the best time, it’s the most rewarding, it’s an amazing experience. We’re happy, we’re proud, we work with our friends, and that’s all wonderful. You experience the highest highs, because you know how hard it was to get every little victory.
As female founders, how do you manage other women in the workplace? It can be tricky to walk the line between strict (which can read as “bitchy” or “cold”) and empathetic (which comes off to some as “weak”) How do gender politics affect your managerial styles?
I think that’s part of what makes us good business owners—we’re not trying to be men. We’re not trying to work like men. We have empathy. We make choices about our business based on how we feel. We’re very careful about the language we use, justifying ourselves, and excusing ourselves. A lot of what we’ve encountered is that our generation of female entrepreneurs is really supportive. You get a lot further by being nice and helping other people out.