Is Now the Time for Women to Start a Business?
Dave Thomas writes extensively for www.business.com, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.
With the economy in flux, many women wonder if now is the time to start their own business, or just ride out the financial storm.
While there are a number of risks for either sex in starting a business in today’s economic conditions, there are women out there who have thrown caution to the wind, not only starting, but successfully running businesses.
According to numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, as recently as 2007, women owned 7.8 million businesses across the country (men ran 13.9 million businesses). Those companies in turn generated $1.2 trillion in receipts, nearly 4 percent of all business receipts nationwide.
Businesses run by women are typically smaller than those owned by men, with fewer employees and lower sales on average. In some industries, women oversaw a major share of the businesses. As an example, women-owned businesses made up 52 percent of all businesses operating in the health care and social assistance sector.
Running Your Own Business Can Be Very Satisfying
Starting and successfully running a women-owned business takes much time and effort, but the rewards can be very satisfying. In order to successfully make a go of it, women should consider the following six factors:
1. Experience. If you’re background is in the medical field, why try to start a restaurant? While it can be done, venturing out of one’s experience zone can be risky. Doing what you do best gives you a leg up on others.
2. Backup. Starting a business requires capital, whether you have the money in reserve or secure a loan from a bank or through investors. Either way, make sure that you have an “emergency fund” to fall back on in the event things take a turn for the worse. Too many new entrepreneurs get in over their heads and can’t make a go of it.
Keep in mind that different grants are available for women seeking funds to help kick-start their own business. The government makes available millions of dollars each year to startup businesses, including consulting, printing and photography. (You can also find free small business counseling at your local SCORE.)
3. Helping hands. When starting your own business, will you be the prime employee or will you require help? If you need employees, you will have to map out what amount of money will be spent for salaries, healthcare, etc.
The healthcare issue is especially important now given how costs have substantially risen in recent years. Can you afford employees and their healthcare needs or are you willing to take on more of the workload responsibility yourself?
Many new entrepreneurs try and do it all, oftentimes leading to burnout. Plan out ahead of time what you believe your needs will be for the first year in terms of assistance, both personal and financial.
4. Networking. Given that there are more or likely other women-run businesses in your neighborhood, reach out to those individuals for tips on successfully running a company. Networking events are a great opportunity to meet and greet, share ideas and promote each other’s efforts.
5. Home or road? Will your business emanate from home or will you rent out space? While renting out a space can look more professional, the costs of rent, utilities etc. could be an issue. If you run your business out of your home and have children, a potential distraction arises.
A Strong Business Plan Essential to Success
If your plan is to go forward with your business idea, first decide if you will open a brand new company or purchase an existing one.
Starting fresh can be exciting, but it can take a while to build up name recognition. That said, you are bringing something that is hopefully fresh and exciting to clients in the area, allowing you to garner the attention and sales that new businesses often accrue through curious shoppers.
Meantime, taking over an existing business allows one to craft it in their manner, but there could be some baggage involved from the previous owner. Be sure if buying an existing company to research the business for any pitfalls that could be transferred into your lap.
If you’re a woman considering going to work for yourself, take the time to compile a strong business plan, make sure the finances are in order, and be prepared to work the hours necessary to make a go of it.
With the national unemployment rate hovering at 9.1 percent, more women are seeing opportunities to open their own businesses and realize what at one time may only have been a dream.