Answer: Women have made significant progress in the world of business and becoming entrepreneurs. According to Jackie Nagel, Synnovatia, there is an average of 1200 new businesses started each day by women in the U.S. This is an increase of 740 more businesses than last year and this trend shows no sign of slowing down. Four in ten new businesses are women-owned businesses. Why? A greater desire for Work/Life balance is the driving force, and the cost of living requires two incomes for a family to thrive financially. For these reasons, women are starting their own businesses.
Plan your way to success. The Business Model Canvas is the best approach to testing your business concept and approach. www.strategyzer.com.
Research your idea, yourself.
Launch as a lean startup, but have growth in your startup plans. The National Women’s Business Council report found that the average woman owned business (WOB) has not grown. Why?
Most launch their businesses with their savings and fail to reach outside their financial comfort zone to grow. To undertake this strategy (1) Fine tune your business story and vision and sell it to potential investors. Make it short and focused. Prepare a professional presentation of your business plan and needs. (2) Know your market. Do the research to prove you understand the environment in which you will compete. (3) Understand and be conversational with your business’s current finances and potential needs. Your most important financial tool is your Source and Use of Funds. What funds you will need to grow and how you will use them. (4) Use your network first to find investors. People who know you and your skills will be more willing to listen to your story than strangers. (5) Have a personnel plan. What skills do you need, when do you need them and what will be the investment to achieve your human resource needs? Check out Jeanne Sullivan, http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeannemsullivan, and Kerry Hannon http://www.linkedin.com/in/kerryhannon, for more insights into financing women-owned businesses.
Surround yourself with experienced business advisors. Use a board of advisors. Most small businesses are not large enough or organized to have a board of directors, so identify 3 or 4 experienced business professionals to guide you through the process of launch, start-up, and growth. Cape Cod SCORE mentors help entrepreneurs with the Advisory Board function.
Women business entrepreneurs are the best sources of advice. Here are some tips and hints:
Dream big. Don’t limit yourself. Nothing is impossible. WOB generate $1.4 trillion in sales each year.
Research your business idea. Do as much research as possible upfront.
Owning a business (and especially starting one) is the loneliest endeavor in the world. Surround yourself with a network of contacts with whom you can test ideas and approaches.
Never stop believing that you can do it. Having the confidence that you can overcome the obstacles especially in the start-up phase is critical. It is not easy in the beginning, nor is it after you are underway. When you get up the morning, tell yourself, “I can do it.” If you maintain this self-confidence, you won’t give up. Failure is a natural part of business development. All your ideas won’t be winners.
Define your business’s brand early and commit to it. This means what values your brand represents. Everything you do should be consistent with those values, so the brand lives in the mind of the potential buyers of your products or services.
Maintain focus. Small business owners are tempted to take on activities outside the defined scope of the business. It is a slippery slope. Once you veer from the plan, getting back on track is very difficult. This is the value of having a functioning business plan.
Keep a healthy work/life balance from the start. It is very easy to suck the life out of your personal life during the start-up. Identify what defines balance to maintain relationships with family and friends.
on’t let what you don’t know scare you. When you identify functions you don’t feel competent, such as accounting or marketing, either get outside help or get training in the function, so you become proficient. While you are researching your business concept, get educated on Entrepreneurship. Consider schools like Babson, online or take SCORE’s 6-week workshop at 4C’s and Upper Cape Tech.
Sources: Amy Vetter, Xero, Jackie Nagel, Syhnnovatia, Kerry Hannon