Monday, June 14, 2010

Increased Potential for Women Entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs are starting small businesses at approximately twice the national average for all startups. Despite some inaccurate stereotypes, the evidence is that these are in every industry, from small consulting firms to medical high technology. As a result, there have also been many new resources popping up specifically aimed at women.

In most cases, the business questions asked and the answers given are essentially the same for all entrepreneurs, whether they be men or women. But according to a couple of articles I’ve seen recently by Peri Pakroo, J.D., who just published a book titled “The Women’s Small Business Start-Up Kit,” the road to success for women does involve its own unique set of hazards.

Surveys of women business owners show that women’s business concerns tend to skew towards issues such as finding work-life balance, startup financing, and marketing. Here are some tips and resources from both of us to address these concerns:

  1. Always start a business that fits with your personal life. There are no rules as to what a “real” business looks like. For most men and some women, success might mean a huge international operation with millions in revenues. For others a consulting or artisan business with a healthy return, and generous personal freedoms, would be the pinnacle of success.
  2. Keep the organization formalities simple. You can usually start a sole proprietorship or a partnership by registering with just one government office, for less the $100. There are many step-by-step guides available, like the one referenced above for women. The real challenge in all cases is a sound business idea, and some management acumen.
  3. Plan for funding requirements. Starting a business without enough money to ride out the early lean days is still the most common reason that businesses fail. Beyond self-funding and banks, two resources that women should definitely look into are Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs).
  4. Network like a social butterfly. This is one of the best ways to market your business and create profitable opportunities. It is always best to forge relationships with contacts before you need help from them. Networking does not require unsavory schmoozing or pandering to get to know potential partners, investors, and customers.
  5. Utilize online support sites. There are many good support sites springing up, like Ladies Who Launch, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), eWomen Network, and the Center for Women’s Business Research. These can also provide coaching, marketing, and other important resources.
  6. Women learn from women. Successful women entrepreneurs, even more than men, are usually anxious and willing to connect with, support and learn from other emerging and established female business owners. Find them by attending local business organization meetings, including the Chamber of Commerce.
  7. Dream bigger. The value of setting high goals for yourself and your business is not just a motivational myth. Many experts believe that this is the key reason that the average revenues of women-owned businesses are still only 27% of the average of men-owned businesses. Change your mindset to increase your focus on growth

In the past, women have often come to entrepreneurship with fewer resources available to them than men. With these tips and resources, women should be able to achieve a higher threshold for entrepreneurs, and will enjoy their full potential as business owners. We are all waiting to enjoy it.

Marty Zwilling




  1. Martin,
    What a great article!

    Thanks for the support sites I just signed up for 2 of them.

  2. The information is true for small business owners. planning for the funds is the only way that can help in attaining the maximum from the minimum.

  3. Very thoughtful article. For a fresh take on building strong careers and families, check out Getting to 50/50 -- on how men and women share roles with all sorts of good results -- including a healthier sex life. The book also debunks some common myths that cause many moms to back away from their jobs. Authors Sharon Meers (a Goldman MD now in tech) and Joanna Strober (a private equity exec) share their often funny tales of combining work and family. Definitely a book worth checking out.

  4. Great tips for newbies. You definitely need to take all these steps to start a small business. Full credit to the writer.