Shauna Mackenzie did what lots of people think about doing. She took the risk of starting a business for herself. But she worked hard to limit her risk as much as possible by starting her business as a side job while she worked the day job that paid her bills. This is what I did too, and I think making the decision to start my business in the evenings and weekends worked out well for me.
Unless you're buying someone else's business, a list of trusting, loyal customers eager to refer you to their friends probably won't fall in your lap the moment you decide to take the leap into business. It takes time to develop a base of customers. And if you take one step back from there, it takes even more time to develop a network of relationships with people who aren't your customers, but will help you find them. You have to accept the fact that this is a process.
It's like gardening. First, you clear away the weeds. Second, you turn up the soil. Third, you plant seeds. And on and on. You don't get to eat the tomato until someting like the seventeenth step. So many of us are "results-oriented" when it comes to business. But good results come from good processes. It's not as sexy, and it may not impress the board of directors, but we would be wise to allow ourselves to be process-oriented with quality results in mind.
Shauna built a consulting business in the evenings and weekends while she worked in the Airforce's public relations offices. She was hired out of college as a temporary worker filling in for people when they were deployed. When the government cut back and Shauna's position was eliminated, she was ready with a handful of Image Consulting clients that she had been developing for months.
Since her early days as an image and personal brand consultant, Shauna started at least two other businesses. When she was ready to pass on some of the knowledge she had gained after working with clients, Shauna launched the Studio for Image Professionals – an online training program for people seeking to become certified image consultants. And just about a year ago, Shauna put together a team of super smart women to launch BestKeptSelf.com – a website magazine and community that publishes daily content devoted to helping women look their best, feel their best, and live their best life.
During our conversation, Shauna talks about her tips for professional networking, the fear traps that most of us fall into over and over again, and why Shauna believes that just about any passion or interest could lead to a successful niche business.