In today’s age, increasing number of women are venturing into the space of entrepreneurship as statistics record the number of women-led-businesses to be growing twice as quickly as compared to the total numbers of start-ups in the country. However, regardless of the gender, every budding leader’s first phase of entrepreneurship is often found to be brimming with questions, doubts and upheavals. In addition to laying down the business plan, cash flow, short term and long term goals, setting up of a business also involves effective management of legal and bureaucratic procedures. While men may be inducted into these practices from early on through corporate mentors and bro-culture discussions, women face unique challenges in taking risks, finding work-life balance and accumulating finances. Given the scenario, here are some tips that can help budding women entrepreneurs battle their most common start-up issues.
Start a business that works for you and fits with your personal life
There are no rules as to what a “real” business looks like. For some business leaders , success might mean an international operation with hundreds of employees and annual revenues in the tens of millions. For others, a small consulting firm or artisan business that pays a healthy salary and allows generous personal freedom might be considered the pinnacle of success. The key is to take the time early in the planning process to consider this question and decide for yourself what your ideal vision is for your business and your personal life.
Don’t sweat the bureaucracy
A lot of would-be entrepreneurs, women and men alike, find themselves stuck on the verge of taking the leap into starting a business, but confused about how to tackle the legal rules of getting started. This pitstop is usually grounded in fear than reality; the truth is that clearing the bureaucratic hurdles isn’t usually a big deal.
You can either start a sole proprietorship (the legal term for a one-owner business) or a partnership (a business with more than one owner) by registering with just one government office. And for business owners who want protection from personal liability for business debts — often referred to by the legal jargon “limited liability” — the simplest corporations or limited liability partnerships (LLP) require only a few more registration tasks.
Of course, there’s a lot more to launching a successful small business than dealing with bureaucratic requirements. For starters, you’ll need to have a sound business idea, and you’ll need to be able to develop good management skills to guide it to success. This is where you should put your mental energy and good ideas to use; don’t waste precious brain cells worrying about the legal hurdles.
Start the business with adequate funds
Starting a business without enough money to ride out the early lean days (described as “undercapitalisation”) is the most common reason for business failure. Undercapitalization is less of an issue with small service-based businesses that don’t have many fixed expenses. However, businesses with overheads such as rent, salaries for employees, utility bills, inventory, equipment, insurance, or other fixed costs absolutely need to be planned carefully and funded to support the fledgeling business as it works up to speed.
Also, though it’s important to start your business with enough capital, that doesn’t mean that every business needs piles of money to take flight. Plenty of successful businesses were started on a shoestring budget: Apple Computers started in a garage; Hewlett-Packard started in the dining room of the Packard home; the list goes on and on. Generally speaking, a business that can find creative, thrifty ways to provide its product or service – especially in its early days – will typically find more success than a business that adopts a “spend more money” approach.
Consider financial sources outside traditional banks
One of the concerns most commonly cited by women entrepreneurs is difficulty finding start-up financing. And it’s little wonder: traditional banks typically don’t lend money to new ventures that don’t have a track record of success or creditworthiness. Instead of focusing on conventional big-chain banks, start-ups should look for community banks, credit unions, and other local financial institutions that have a vested interest in the health of the economy. Often, their application processes and criteria are softer than the big banks.
Network to create profitable opportunities
Networking involves actively cultivating relationships with people, businesses, community leaders, and others who present possible opportunities for your business — not just as potential customers, but also as vendors, partners, investors, or other roles. Remember, networking is not the same thing as sales. Rather than the simple goal of making a sale, a wider goal of networking is to inform other businesspersons and influential people about what you do so that they may recommend your business to their circle of contacts.
Consider networking to be a self-employed lifestyle than a specific activity. You are networking every time you attend an event held by a local trade association, get to know other business owners and community leaders, send an email introducing two of your contacts to each other, write a letter to the editor, participate in an online discussion group, or have lunch with another local business owners.
Forge relationships with contacts before you need help from them
For example, if you need the support of a local politician on an upcoming city zoning decision, you’ll have a better chance of getting the politician’s aidif he or she already knows you and thinks favourably of your business than if you place a call to his or her office out of the blue.
From personal practices to professional procedures, entrepreneurship involves adapting a major shift in thinking and action, one step at a time. While listed above are a few tips to get started with, it is advisable to identify a mentor who will act as a soundboard for the leader’s aims, plans and decisions in the long run. A mentor who is unbiased, knowledgeable, understands business is an invaluable support for every budding entrepreneur.