Should I start my own non-profit?

The backstory: 

I want to open a development agency that helps women embrace their strengths and not focus on their weakness. I have been in retail for over seven years and have reached a point where I feel as if this is my calling. 

Do you have any advice on how I should go about opening up my dream agency. Should I go for a non-profit?

— Jasmine C.

New Orleans, LA

Alex's Advice

Jasmine —

First of all, thank you for reaching out — it takes guts to share your challenges!

As a small business owner myself, I can share some of my experience. If you want to start your own business, it's a good idea to do your homework and test your ideas before jumping in with both feet. Do you want to start as a side hustle, or do this full time? What's your business model? How will you make money? Who can you count on to support you, emotionally — and financially if necessary?

You asked whether you should start a non-profit. That's something you should think about both from a business standpoint and a financial one. Consider asking a lawyer and an accountant to weigh in before you make up your mind, so you have as much information as possible.

You didn't ask specifically about pricing yourself, but I'll mention it anyway because I bet it's on your mind. "How do I know how to set my rate?” is one of the most frequent questions I get from entrepreneurs. When it’s a choice between signing a new client or meeting them at the discounted price they want, it may not feel like a choice at all.

Research and benchmarking are the obvious first step in determining how to price to price your services. But owning your value goes deeper than simply setting your rates according to what others are doing. One thing I’m fond of saying to women is, “Ask yourself what a man would do in your situation. Better yet, ask a man!

— Alexandra Dickinson
CEO + founder

Ask Alex is our monthly advice series. CEO + Founder Alexandra Dickinson answers your most burning negotiation questions. Subscribe to our email list for more advice and content. We'd also love to hear from you! Submit your questions to


Alexandra Dickinson

Alexandra Dickinson is the CEO and founder of Ask For It, a boutique consulting company working to close the gender wage gap by effecting change at both the institutional and individual level. We work with companies, schools, organizations and individuals through a combination of trainings, workshops and consulting. Our goal is for women and men to be paid based on their talents and skills, regardless of gender, and for our company to have been an important part of that change.