The decision to leave one’s steady 9-to-5 job and attempt to start a small business is stressful for anyone, but women face a unique set of challenges. Many still feel — wrongly of course — that the business world is a man’s world, and that women are less effective at running their own companies. In reality, the last 20 years have seen women-owned businesses increase by 75 percent — but the misconceptions persist in some minds. Here are some tips for women entrepreneurs looking to start their first business.
Find Your Market and Stick to It
One of the worst things you can do when starting up a new business is trying to do too much too fast. When you create your business plan, make sure that you know the market you’re trying to reach and take the steps to target your business specifically toward this market.
“Define your business and your brand and commit to it — everything you do should be consistent with your business’s identity,” one female business owner tells Fast Company.
“You simply cannot be all things to all people. This is especially important if you are starting a business with limited upfront capital.”
Much of business is gaining the trust of clients, and if you have an on-point branding message that you stick to throughout all aspects of your business, you’ll be better set up for success.
Network and Network Hard
As a small business owner, the greatest tool you have in your repertoire is your networking skills.
“As a female business owner, you should never underestimate the power of your network, from close friends to business acquaintances; there is a huge pool to tap into as you build your company,” notes Projective.com.
Your networking should be a three-pronged approach:
First, you must tap your friends and any business contacts you’ve developed over the years. If you’re struggling to get your company off the ground, it may be smart to trust in the advice of a mentor — a known business contact who has experience in your particular field and is familiar with how to market your skills, goods or services.
Next, you’ll need to join industry groups that work within the realm of your target audience. When it comes to networking and marketing, it’s best to think about it in specifics as opposed to generalities. What works for one type of business may not work for your business and you must develop strategies that are unique to what you are trying to accomplish.
Lastly, there’s just no way to network these days without heavy involvement in online communities. You must build a presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even newcomers to the business realm like Snapchat. If social media “just isn’t your thing” you need to make it your thing. And if that fails, hire someone to do it for you because it’s that vital.
Find Additional Ways to Make Money
Quitting a job and starting a business is likely going to be financially stressful unless you already have a huge amount of savings in the bank. For those without a comfy money pillow to sit on, you will need to find some sources of income that are flexible. Remember, your new small business is your full-time job.
Take advantage of the sharing economy to provide services; for example, rideshare apps such as Lyft, delivery apps such as Postmates or even dog walking with Rover. Part-time service economy jobs (bartending, restaurant work, etc.) are another option. You can also tutor or freelance your services to other businesses and clients (if you have marketable business skills). Whatever gives you an extra financial boost during what can be a dry time is worth a thought.
Are you ready to launch your woman-owned business? Consider forming an LLC, which will help protect your personal assets and offers pass-through taxation among other benefits for business owners. Incfile offers online business entity formation for $0 + state fees — that price is the lowest in the industry. Plus, you receive a free year of our Registered Agent service, and we have an easy-to-use online dashboard for all of your documents and top-rated customer service.