What successful businesswomen know about startups
A recent survey from Deloitte Global showed that the pandemic has seen an increase in workloads at work and at home for many women. In fact, many are at a breaking point, leaving the workforce in record numbers. For some women, the remote-work enviornment has become a catalyst to seriously consider not going back to work at all, and starting their own business instead.
Many women look to start their own business mainly because of the independence, flexibility, and challenge it affords. There’s always the potential to become financially successful as well. So how do you go about putting all the pieces together to start your own business now?
Where to start
The first item of business in starting a business is an intangible: confidence. Above all, successful businesswomen are overflowing with confidence. It may be trite. It may be a cliché. But it’s nonetheless true.
To start your own business, you have to crush any doubts and trepidation (and there will be plenty of that) with an overwhelming “can-do” attitude. Most businesswomen I know started by doing what they love to do best. Whether it’s selling real estate, managing investment portfolios, running a bistro-bakery, or selling rare books or baby booties online, they started with something they knew how to do really well or were really good at.
A good many had already started small businesses on the side providing services to friends, relatives, and colleagues part time, while working at that drudge day job in some cubicle farm. With a little proven success already in hand, they decided to “go it alone” and make their part-time business their full-time work.
Another common trait of successful businesswomen is that they sought advice and support from their existing network of experienced business or professional colleagues who can offer invaluable insight into the ups and downs of self-employment.
They expanded that network to include professional financial planners, accountants, and lawyers who are experts at business planning and financial management. And networking through like-minded business groups, associations, and professional bodies can provide a goldmine of contacts, marketing know-how, and tricks of the trade to help get your business off the ground and keep it flying.
Capital and cash flow concerns
Most small businesses will almost immediately run up against what I call the two “Cs” of money: capital and cash flow.
Some small businesses can get started with very little in the way of start-up capital (most any home-office desktop service operation, for example). Some will require more, for manufacturing and marketing a new product, for instance, and for inventory storage, distribution, and so on.
Small businesses with a good idea and not much else have a tough slog ahead of them. So lining up start up seed capital is essential. Most small businesswomen dip into personal savings, apply for bank loans, or approach investors drawn from family and friends. Some try online crowd-funding and other methods, like crowdfunding.
The business plan
Whatever the financing route you take, in order to really take care of capital and cash flow, you have to have a professional plan – a business plan. This is actually quite a rigorous document (you can find templates at the BDC website) that sets out quite explicitly what you hope to do and how you hope to do it, including research and study of your market, competition, and plans for your marketing, management, operation, and financing.
Armed with this, you’ll know very quickly whether your business is viable and if so, you’ll also have a strong business presentation to make to your bank manager or potential investors.
Starting and running your own successful business is challenging, but it’s also hugely satisfying. To determine whether you’re financially ready to commit to your own business, talk to your financial planner. Not only is she a businesswoman in her own right, but also she’ll be able to give you valuable insight and advice as well as guide you through many of the technical details of business start-ups.