Perhaps even more than owning your own home, starting a business is truly the epitome of the American dream for many aspiring entrepreneurs. For women who dream of owning a small business, though, the challenges can be great but so, too, can the opportunities.
This article provides the best advice women entrepreneurs need to know when they’re launching and growing a small business.
Creating a successful small business doesn’t just happen. It takes strategy and commitment, and that means doing your homework. Before you dive in, learn as much as you can about the industry, your target customers, and your competitors.
It’s also critical that you master some of the basic fundamentals of owning and operating a small business, from budgeting and accounting to permitting and taxes.
YouTube can be a tremendously helpful resource for getting the information you need without taking on the expense of a business course. Subscribe to a number of YouTube business channels to help keep you inspired and informed.
Set a Clear Vision and Begin Building Connections
You can’t help your company thrive if you aren’t clear on your vision of success. So when you’re building a small business, it’s critical that you define your short-term and long-range goals.
Understand exactly what you want your company to bring to your customers, your employees, and your community, and then set about building the connections you need to make it happen. After all, success is a team effort, so cultivate a network of like-minded individuals who can share in your vision.
In addition to employees and investors, your support network should include mentors, leaders, and supporters who can guide you in your journey, and offer feedback, advice, and resources.
Get Your Financial House In Order
Although your company is a labor of love, an opportunity to spend your life pursuing your passions, it’s still, at the end of the day, a business. And if it’s going to survive, it has to make money.
Indeed, financial considerations are, for many, the most daunting aspect of launching your own business. Fortunately, it is entirely possible to start — and grow — your business on a small budget, provided that you’re strategic and judicious in how you allocate your resources and set your priorities.
You can, for example, seek out alternative sources of funding to supplement the resources you already have. There are myriad funding opportunities for woman-owned businesses, including low-interest and forgivable loans, grants, and subsidies. If you are a female veteran, for example, you may be eligible not only for funding but also for training, networking, and other support programs at no charge.
The key here is to do your research, seeking out funding programs that are specifically designed for female entrepreneurs. Help is out there, if you just seek it!
But, of course, securing funding is only half the battle. You also have to use that money wisely, and that’s where good financial planning comes in. Taking the time to participate in a financial management course for small business owners is a great idea, and they’re often easily accessible at little or no cost online or in your community.
You might also choose to invest in some good budgeting and accounting software. This can help you keep track of where your money is going and ensure that your spending reflects your business priorities.
For instance, if you find you’re spending most of your money on materials and shipping when you really intended to focus on advertising, then look for more affordable shippers and suppliers. Budgeting strategically, with your business priorities at top of mind, can mean all the difference to the longevity and prosperity of your company.
Unleash the Power of Digital Marketing
Your business can’t thrive if your target customers don’t know who you are or where to find you. Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to raise awareness and build your brand without breaking the bank. The key is to tap into the tremendous power of digital marketing in general and social media in particular.
At a minimum, you should focus on building and maintaining a functional and professional-looking business website with an active blog and discussion forums. In addition, you’ll want to maintain an active social media marketing strategy, including a number of active social media accounts and with a particular focus on the social media sites favored by your target customers.
Create an array of content, from promotional videos to live streaming events to forums for user-generated content to drive interest, get clicks, and convert prospects into customers.
Building a woman-owned business isn’t easy, but it’s more than worth the effort. Aspiring female entrepreneurs have much to offer the business world, the marketplace, and the customers they seek to serve.
And, with a bit of strategy, a dash of support, and a whole lot of passion, woman-owned businesses can do more than just prosper — they can pave the way for an entirely new generation of female business owners and leaders.