More than ever before, women are grabbing the reins and starting their own businesses. The number of women-owned small businesses is growing approximately twice as quickly as the national average for all start-ups. But as many women business owners will tell you, the road to success for women often involves its own unique set of curves.
G Sunder Raj finds ways to address some of the issues and concerns that are most commonly faced by women entrepreneurs.
Start a business that suits your personality type
There are no rules as to what a “real” business looks like. For some business people, success might mean an international operation with hundreds of employees and annual revenues in the tens of millions. For others, a small consulting firm or artisan business that pays a healthy salary and allows generous personal freedom might be considered the pinnacle of success. The key is to take the time early on during the planning process to consider this question and decide for yourself what your ideal vision for your business and your personal life is!
Don’t sweat over bureaucracy
There’s a lot more to launching a successful small business than dealing with bureaucratic requirements. For starters, you’ll need to have a sound business idea, and you’ll need to be able to develop good management skills to guide it to success. This is where you should put your mental energy and good ideas; don’t waste precious brain cells worrying about the legal hurdles.
Pursue minority grants
These days, many small businesses are struggling to find funding, and female-led startups are no exception. In fact, studies show that women lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to finding equity financing for their startups.
One way that female entrepreneurs can level the playing field is to pursue minority loans and grants. As a first-time business owner, you may be eligible for startup loans with a lower interest rate than you’d typically receive at a bank.
Network like a social butterfly
Networking involves actively cultivating relationships with people, businesses, community leaders, and others who present possible opportunities for your business — not just as potential customers, but also as vendors, partners, investors, or other roles. Remember, networking is not the same thing as sales!
Find a mentor
Despite the growing number of women in the business world, entrepreneurship is one field that remains largely male-dominated. As a result, female entrepreneurs may have trouble finding other women to act as sounding boards. However, the truth is having a trusted advisor is invaluable when your business is first starting out.