Women choose to start their own businesses for many reasons, whether it's avoiding the corporate glass ceiling, harnessing the flexibility of working for yourself, or gaining the freedom to innovate without limits. As a female entrepreneur you face unique challenges; luckily, there’s a growing number of resources dedicated to women entering the world of small business ownership.
The 2012 U.S. census found that women owned 36 percent of all businesses, a considerable 20 percent increase over five years. If you’re considering joining this strong and growing group of female leaders, here are three tips to help you get started.
You've already gone through the ideation phase and drafted a business plan. As you move from ideas to action you have several critical decisions to make, from choosing a location and picking an advisory board to identifying vendors and funding sources. Often this is where rookie entrepreneurs make costly mistakes. Organized events and groups are here to help.
Look for accelerators, boot camps, and leadership training set up specifically for women entrepreneurs. Check out Dreamit Athena, EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women, MergeLane, Million Dollar Woman Workshop, Springboard Enterprises, and Women’s Startup Lab, just to name a few.
Secure adequate funding
A strong start to business relies on sufficient funding. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners’ (NAWBO) Public Policy Survey of its members, women still rely on personal savings as their main source of business funding. They often don’t apply for business credit because they believe they will be turned down. The good news: There is a wealth of resources available for women to finance their ventures. The Small Business Association, SCORE, and Association of Women’s Business Centers are longstanding allies.
Join a supportive community
Like so many areas of life, a successful start in business is all about who you know. If going to happy hours and networking groups isn’t your speed, invite a local female business owner out for coffee and ask for her insight. (Bonus points if that woman owns a business that you already patronize.)
Consider finding a mentor while you’re still in the early stages of planning your business. Mentors have already experienced the challenges of starting a business and can offer great insight to newcomers. SCORE is one of many great national mentorship organizations.
Get inspired by leading female business owners around the globe. The seventh annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Summit is a helpful upcoming opportunity, with a focus on emerging technology and adapting to a changing workforce. Intel has also long been a champion of female entrepreneurship, particularly in tech and STEM areas.
Starting a new business is always challenging, but women have a growing community of business leaders and organizations to help build sound foundations.