“I’ve always had a fear of being like everyone else, which is why I think I chose this path,” explained entrepreneur Neely Raffellini. As the founder of the 9 to 5 Project, Raffellini works to provide women with the tools they need to land their dream jobs, including career and job search strategy sessions, resume writing, interview coaching, and LinkedIn rewriting.
A Unique Career Path
I went to grad school initially for speech-language pathology. My undergrad program didn’t have us work in a clinic setting. When I finally got to that point, I didn’t really enjoy being a clinician. I ended up graduating from grad school in a different program. I’ve worked in every job imaginable since then. I’ve been in PR, I’ve been in pharmaceutical sales, I’ve been in marketing, I’ve worked in non-profits. My husband gets transferred a lot, so I ended up needing to create my own thing so I didn’t have to keep moving from job to job.
My friends had always asked me to work on resumes for them, so I started this business. I decided to target women as my customers because I think it’s more fun to have a targeted business.
Managing Business Finances
I’ve never borrowed money. It’s been totally bootstrapped. You don’t really need anything to get started when you’re doing a virtual business. The biggest expense has been legal protection. I would tell people to always make sure you have that in place. I have a debit card attached to our company checking account, which I use to pay for things for the business.
I have a couple of freelancers that I work with. When the work is finished, I pay them. Our clients pay me upfront and the money goes into our account until the project is done.
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One thing you need to realize as a business owner is that you have to plan for really slow periods. For me, the summer is very slow, so I know I need to save what I make during the rest of the year to get us through. And I do other contract work during the slow times so I have another source of income.
Business Challenges and Rewards
The most challenging thing is doing everything myself and managing every department. It’s also hard to plan for slow periods. And I work from home, so I don’t have that separation of going into the office, so I’m always at work so to speak.
I feel a sense of pride when one of my clients gets a job. When someone’s been out of work for a long time and then they find something, I feel really happy about it because I feel like I had a part in that, which is personally rewarding. And I like the freedom that comes with running my own business.
Business Lessons Learned
This isn’t the first business I’ve started. I had one that completely tanked. I’d tell others not to wait until everything is perfect, just get it out there. The first business I started was a crowdfunding website for pet services – a way for people to request money from friends and family to pay for vet expenses and stuff. I spent way too much money and had the whole thing built out before I even tested the idea. The tendency is for people to wait until they have everything perfect. But, they need to just get started and take action. Once you start going, everything will snowball. Waiting and making everything just how you want it is not always the best way.
I think listening to my instincts has been something smart I’ve done. A lot of people have opinions about what you should do. You have to listen to what you think, because your instincts are usually right.
Advice for New Entrepreneurs
Launch quickly. Get your legal stuff taken care of. Don’t let something simple hold you up. If you’re struggling with a name or something, you can change that; Don’t get hung up on something simple. If you see a problem and you want to solve it, you can definitely do it – It’s possible. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, so don’t let that be a barrier to you.
What’s Next for the 9 to 5 Project
We’re going to hire someone to help with content. There’s this book called “The E-Myth Revisited.” The message I got from it is that a lot of businesses fail because the person is too busy working in it and not on it. So, I need someone to help with little things like blog posts so I don’t have to spend all my time doing that.
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