On a recent podcast I was prompted to come up with my top 5 tips for success as an Entrepreneur. I identify as a "serial" entrepreneur. Meaning that I have worked for myself for the majority of my adult life. Or, more aptly put, I am too stubborn to work for someone else. All that may change one day. But these tips are pretty timeless. I touch on this in my blog "5 tips for success as an escort" in #5 "Business Sense". This is a little more about business sense.
Hopefully these little nuggets of wisdom can help new entrepreneurs. Sex work is work, the adult industry is an industry. If you take away the taboos, the stigmas, the hyper-sexualization and the shadows of sex work; well- you're left with a business.
1. Know the law & have a code of ethics.
If we follow the big rules we can break the little ones. In researching this industry I found out that many cities in the USA have written into their business codes the parameters for running an escort service. I personally like to be in compliance with local laws- because the work I do can be perceived as illegal. Cross my fingers, I've never had any trouble with any authorities. I like to think this is because I operate a legitimate business by the standards set in my city, state, and country. Part of that is keeping documentation of income. Another part of that is paying taxes on that income. I do all of these things. Others may not. I think that by NOT paying taxes I am screwing my future self out of a new car/home/property- because there is no proof of income. Don't be short-sighted in your pursuit for cold hard cash. You may sell yourself short.
Ethics are a more slippery subject. We are somatic healers, just like other touch based service professions. Massage therapists have a code of ethics. Both of my therapy businesses have their own code of ethics. Why should sex work be any different? Everybody draws their own line between "ok" and "not ok". Some providers are perfectly happy to ask for money from clients when there have been no services exchanged or booked. Me, personally, I find that shady and dishonest. I, personally, have a problem with getting paid when I haven't done any work. But that's just me, you might feel differently. AND THAT'S OK! The important thing is to know where you stand and why. One of my professional mottos is a Bob Dylan quote
"to live outside the law you must be honest".
Let me know if you'd like help defining your own personal or business code of ethics.
2. Net Worth ≠ Self Worth
Don't be desperate. My #1 rule to live by in "3 Rules to Live By" This rule applies to all business. There is a difference between "hungry" and "desperate". When I'm hungry I get creative and inventive. I try to find new and better ways to satisfy my needs. When I'm desperate I break my own rules, make bad decisions, and remove boundaries that I established to keep me safe. Speaking of boundaries. There is a big difference between providing a pleasant experience for a client and using clients to fulfill our emotional needs. Meaning this: if we are insecure and need to be constantly validated then we are using our clients to fulfill our emotional needs. If we are secure and confident, then we are able to provide the experience our client wants- without laying our baggage out and making the session awkward. I can be insecure, but I don't bring it to work, and I certainly don't talk about my personal emotional baggage to clients. (unless that's what they want- surprisingly some clients want to hear all about our drama- my inner psychologist has a field day with that one.)
Passion DOES NOT equal emotional entanglement. We can be passionate and emotionally detached. We don't have to be in love to be passionate. Passion comes from inside of us- we draw upon it in our work. That is part of what we are being paid for.
Net worth DOES NOT equal self worth. If I'm having a slow week or month and not making as much money as I want to I can easily be led into a state of desperation because I forget that I am NOT the number in my bank account. I am not a bad person just because I didn't turn a bunch of tricks this week. Taking a break actually makes me better at my job; I think that's true for most people. When I forget that- I become desperate. Which leads to bad decisions and usually ends in a painful learning experience.
3. Prioritize taking care of yourself. Lets be real. I am the vessel for the product that I sell. The product that I sell is an experience; and a feeling. Holistically I want to be the best product I can be; mind, body, & spirit. I want to sell the highest and best version of the services that I provide, and without the highest and best version of myself I am selling an inferior product. I joke on podcasts about working 3 hours a week- but I am joking. I actually get up between 4:30-5:30 every day to pray and meditate. Then I hit the gym. I eat very clean (when I'm being good). I try to get to bed early enough to get adequate sleep. I do things that are good for me. This all factors into my work week. Why? Because in order to offer the highest and best product and services I have to maintain a high level of health and wellness.
4. Build a brand and find your niche. My brand is Wild West MILF. It's fun and it's easy. I live in the Wild West and I am a MILF. I'm a lazy MILF- so I try to keep my brand simple. If you have more energy you can be a roller skating unicorn furry. The important thing is to be THE BEST YOU CAN BE at your brand. You don't have to be the best in the world. Just the best YOU can be.
Niche- what's a niche? A niche is the demographic of client that you are able to best serve. The type of clients you focus your marketing efforts on. Your niche may not be your ideal client. My ideal client and my niche are a little bit different in reality. A good exercise is to visualize your ideal client and work towards making that your niche. Which leads me to...
5. Goals: We get the concept of setting goals beaten into our skulls all through school and into our work life. It's important! When I manage other escorts I ask them to make SMART goals: short, medium, and long term, and write them down- here is an example:
My SMART short term goals are:
S= Specific: I want to pay off all my credit cards by the end of this year.
M= Measurable: I will know I achieve my goal because my credit cards will have a 0 balance.
A= Achievable: Is this even possible? Yes-but I need to make a good plan on how to do it.
R= Relevant: Is this goal relevant to my life? Uh, yes- definitely
T=Time: What is the time parameter? Goals without deadlines are just dreams. And dreams are great when I'm asleep- but when I'm awake my dreams either become GOALS or remain fantasy. The above goal has an end date, the end of this year.
Short term are less than a year, medium term are 1-5 years, and long term are 5+ years. Which brings me to...
6. Plan to scale and plan to exit:
If we plan to get bigger and better, then we will become bigger and better. (not bigger like fat, bigger like famous) This stuff doesn't magically happen overnight- it takes planning. Sure, I wanted to be a Madame since I was 9. But I had to actually plan on doing it, with goals and everything, for it to happen. I didn't just wake up one day with a bunch of fine ass women asking me to peddle their flesh for them. Nope- it took work.
Plan to exit: When I was a new escort I got so pissed at a client one day. He asked me what I was going to do when I was done with "this". It made me mad, and then it made me think. I internalized the fact that one day I might not want to be an escort anymore. It got me thinking about what could be next for me. Having an exit plan is really important; because one day you might wake up and say to yourself- " I don't want to suck dick for money anymore". Then what are you going to do?
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