Have you ever wanted to start your own business? If you are a woman entrepreneur, there are many opportunities for you to start, grow and expand your business. Start by asking yourself the following question: Is entrepreneurship for me? Once you’ve had some time to think about it, try writing a draft of your business plan to help you get a grasp on your ideas and how to make them come alive. We encourage you to visit the SBA Office of Women’s Business Ownership to learn about new developments which effect women entrepreneurs and to find out about valuable training opportunities SBA promotes.
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Business Assistance and Training
The Small Business Administration (SBA) works with the women’s business centers, which provide in-person assistance and educational resources to help women start and grow successful small businesses. These centers are located nationwide near major cities and metropolitan areas. Visit the Women’s Business Center page for more information on this program. In addition to these programs, we have compiled another list of resources that might be helpful for you here.
Grants and Loans
Let’s say you’re ready to start a business, but want to see what types of financing are available. You may think that federal and state government agencies provide many grants specifically for women-entrepreneurs. Grants may be available from nonprofits and private organizations; however, these grants are rare and tend to focus on helping minority women and women in economically disadvantaged communities. But don’t get discouraged. There are a limited number of loans available to specifically help women start and expand their businesses.
7 Biggest Blunders Women Make and how to Avoid Them
Women are starting businesses in record numbers, at twice the rate of men. It’s not just because we want financial independence and empowerment; it’s because we’re good at it. But we still have some special issues and challenges in business. Here are the top 7 business blunders that have even toppled the corporate giants:
1. Pricing Too Low
Women-owned firms are notorious at pricing their goods and services too low. This dooms them to a life of always worrying about money. Heck, even when they get orders, they aren’t happy, because they aren’t making enough profit on their sales. The popular retail store, Restoration Hardware, had a Turn of the Century Sale. The response was overwhelming and many of the prices were extremely low and even below cost. The company almost had to close their doors.
2. Lack of Information About Captial
This is a big one! It’s really not the lack of money, but the lack of capital-raising skills and knowledge that holds women back. Studies have shown that fast growth firms eclipse the laggards because of their aggressive use of investor capital and their risk-taking skills. You don’t have money, so what? Someone else does.
3. Hyper Sensitivity
In my coaching experience, I talk to many women who are just too sensitive about business. Every rejection becomes a devastating blow. The truth is, the people who reject us are actually doing us a favor. They are not really our prospects anyway. They are freeing us to go after the qualified customers who will help build our business.
4. Lack of Sales & Marketing Skills
Every company is a sales and marketing company. The true salesperson is the ultimate adviser. She listens to the customer’s goals, objections, questions and desires. Instead of pushing products, she offers brilliant solutions. Marketing is the way to sustain and insure your business life. Most companies, if they do any marketing at all; use ‘Elephant Marketing’ a one-prong approach. To succeed, you need to use ‘Octopus Marketing’ which involves many different high-tech, low-tech and no-tech strategies.
5. Not Trusting Your Intuition
Women business owners have highly developed intuition, but sometimes forget to listen to their inner voices. Because he didn’t trust his gut, the chairman of Remington Products, Victor Kiam, lost out on the opportunity to manufacture and distribute what we now know as Velcro.
6. No Systems in Place
When women start or buy businesses, they tend to choose labor-intensive companies. If you show up, you get paid. If you don’t, you lose money. You are trading hours for dollars. Your business should be a system that functions without your presence. The system gives you freedom.
7. No Planning
The business plan, whether written on a napkin or in a binder, is the internal roadmap for your business. Without it you will be swimming upstream. The business plan is a living entity. Don’t just stick it in a drawer or in a file cabinet. Take it out every three months and re-evaluate it, massage it, sleep on it, ask other people’s opinions about it.
Visit these sites for more information and resources:
• National Women’s Business Council – Federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations on economic issues of importance to women business owners.
• SBA Office of Women’s Business Ownership – Information about programs and services that help women with starting and running successful businesses.
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