Have you ever thought about starting your own business? The thought of being your own boss certainly sounds appealing, but being an entrepreneur is about more than just having a good idea.
Miranda Lam is the founder of consultancy firm Think Capital and helps clients build and grow their business in a trusted environment. She attributes her designation as a Chartered Professional Accountant with giving her the knowledge and expertise to be able to serve clients by helping them create strategies in regards to all things finance, legal, business development, and marketing.
Miranda has some real experience when it comes to leaving a full-time position in favour of entrepreneurship; she began her career with her CPA designation, but then quit her six-figure job as a finance director to move to Italy in pursuit of a professional digital marketing internship. After returning home to Vancouver, she founded Think Capital and serves as a Board Member at Every Nation Vancouver.
Before taking on the huge endeavour of being a business owner, Miranda says there are a few things that helped her make a decision. “I’ve worked for large corporations, start-ups, and non-profits in various capacities — CPAs can see a lot, and because of this, I’ve had a lot of different perspectives and roles. So if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, make sure you ask yourself these questions,” she says.
Contrary to popular motivation jargon, Miranda says, “It’s not just about doing what you love — you have bills to pay and a life to live outside of work, so let’s get real. Ask yourself who your customers are and what problems they face. Have you faced the problem in your own life? Will enough people care?”
When starting Think Capital, Miranda identified a critical need among talented, time-strapped entrepreneurs and businesses who love building innovative products and services. Her clients need help managing everything else it takes to run the business (strategy, finance, legal, communications; the list goes on and on). That’s where Miranda comes in. Apply this to yourself; whatever your potential customer’s needs are, clearly identify them upfront.
A huge part of properly representing yourself as an entrepreneur comes down to knowing your strengths and how to best articulate them.
“Your actions, interactions and follow-through are what builds your intrinsic brand. Digital marketing and storytelling layers on top of this,” Miranda says. “So the question becomes, what is your secret weapon? What is unique about your solution to your customer’s problems?”
Let your actions and experiences speak for themselves by highlighting your portfolio and engaging in lowkey digital marketing and storytelling to make sure your (digital) word of mouth is strong and positive. Basically: Put your best foot forward every time, and make sure anyone looking into you and your work can easily find examples of it.
Miranda encourages you to put yourself out there.
“Charge what you think is fair and iterate from there, keeping perspective in your mind that you are price testing. Test, test and test some more across the board, so you have more data points, and you’ll find what works for your business. People will let you know very quickly whether they’re willing to pay. Don’t be afraid to be told no, it’s an important part of refining your business sales and pricing model.”
Miranda’s key advice is to remember that you have the opportunity and duty to say no to potential customers for reasons valid to you. She says, “Saying no can be a hard thing to do because you equate it to turning down business, but in the end, you’re freeing up the time to build your business in a way that is core to why customers need you in the first place. So chin up, learn when to say no, and keep moving forward!”
In a discussion about starting as an entrepreneur, Miranda stresses the importance of building relationships and having a personal advisory council that stands by you while you make decisions and have fun with you along the way!
Miranda emphasizes, “For me, becoming an entrepreneur and building businesses are not the final destination, the joy lies in understanding why I was created, and how I use my gifts to contribute to relationships and businesses along the way. I like planting seeds and then seeing them bear fruit in the future, in ways that surprise me and far overshadow what I thought was originally possible.”