The estimated 9 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. generate over $1.4 trillion in revenues and they employ millions of American workers. According to a new report by American Express, an average of more than 1,200 new women-owned companies launched each day last year.
Societal changes, high levels of education and technological advances have made it easier than ever before for women to go into business for themselves. However, certain rules of the game still apply.
Write a Solid Business Plan
Anyone looking to run a successful company should have a business plan that explains what the business will do and provides a roadmap for where the owner hopes it will go. Elements include:
1. Executive Summary: A brief explanation of the goals, operations, marketing plan, and revenue projections for the company.
2. Business Description: What the company does and how it will make money
3. Local Market and Competitive Landscape: An assessment of the target audience and the competition.
4. Sales and Marketing Efforts: Explain how you plan to reach your target market: a web site, social media, advertising and p.r., sampling, etc.
5. Management Team: Outline who will run the business and what experience they have
6. Financial Data: Project your cash flow and provide sample balance sheet and profit-and-loss statements, and detail how much of your own money you are putting into the firm.
The SBA provides an resource page with free tips for writing business plans.
While the economy has improved over the past year, female entrepreneurs still have a tougher time securing financing than men do. Research has shown that historically, businesses launched by women have lower loan approval rates than male-owned companies. The gap has gotten smaller in recent years, but still challenges remain. On Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at 3:00 p.m.(EDT), Biz2Credit will host a free webinar entitled, "2015 Outlook for Women-Owned Businesses." It features a panel of experts, including moderator Lori Ioannou of CNBC.com and Anita Campbell, founder and publisher of SmallBizTrends.com. The discussion will cover different financing options for women, among other topics. Registration is free at this link.
Learn from a Mentor
Women are generally open to sharing their success stories and their experiences with others. Be sure to join local organizations, including chambers of commerce and MeetUp groups that provide opportunities to learn from other entrepreneurs. Attend conferences and seminars (many times they are free). Additionally, take advantage of the SBA's Women's Business Centers (WBCs) network of educational centers that help women launch and expand their companies. Visit the SBA's Women's Business Centers resource page for a list of local WBCs across the country.