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I hired my first assistant right before my daughter was born. Next step: a housekeeper. Then I hired someone to mow the grass. My life changed and my business grew… because I had more time on my hands to grow it. And the question I kept asking myself was, “What the heck took me so long?”
It’s a question Nell Merlino, founder of Count Me In, provider of financial and coaching assistance to women-owned businesses, encounters all the time. She has found that women business owners struggle with making a lot of money. According to the 2007 U.S. Census, almost 29 percent of small businesses are women-owned, yet the majority earned only 27 percent of the average revenues for men-owned businesses.
What’s going on here?
Part of the problem, according to Merlino (who also started Take Your Daughters to Work Day), is that women often lack a plan for raising revenue. That, and they do too much on their own. “Women often see hiring as an expense rather than as a way to make more money,” she says. “But there are lots of ways to save the most precious thing you have, which is your time.”
And that’s what Count Me In is all about—connecting women entrepreneurs with the resources, community groups and other business owners who can help them reach their full potential and move from making $50,000 a year to $250,000 a year. And through a partnership with American Express, Count Me In In also helps some women grow from that $250,000 a year to $1 million.
Merlino says another reason women business owners tend not to reach the level of financial success that men do is not because they lack understanding of financials. Rather, she says they tend to pursue entrepreneurship for very different reasons. “Women start businesses because they need more flexibility, they have a great idea or they need a job,” she says. “They tend to want balance over money.”
But Merlino cautions against failing to see the value of making lots of money. “In managing your life, remember making more money helps you manage everything better.”
Merlino's Revenue-Raising Tips for New Business Owners
- Ask “Who can I get to help me?” Take a look at your to-do list, and make a note of what only you can do. For everything else, try to get help: Hire a virtual assistant; get your groceries delivered. “The sooner you think of yourself as a boss, the sooner you’ll feel comfortable bringing in other people,” Merlino explains.
- Set goals, and make sure they’re realistic. “Think of yourself as the CEO of a company instead of as someone who has created a job for herself,” Merlino says.
- Create a financial section in your goal-setting, Merlino advises. “Be honest about how much money you’d like to make versus how much you think you can make.”
- Connect with other business owners. Join a community of entrepreneurs who are all trying to grow their businesses—brainstorm, share ideas, get support.