October is National Women’s Small Business Month. As a woman and a small business owner, I’m honored to work with a large number of female business owners. In fact, our own Cloud Friday accounting services business is owned by a woman – Sonya Tapley.
So, how has the world changed in terms of women and business over the years? If you’re a woman, is business ownership a possibility for you? How can you start a business? How can you grow your existing business? We’ve got some answers for you.
What Does It Mean To Be a Woman In Business Today?
In 2018, American Express published findings in a publication called The State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. The report shares statistics and findings regarding women-owned businesses from 2007 and beyond.
As an example, the number of women-owned businesses from 2007 to 2018 rose an astonishing 58%, while business ownership as a whole only increased 12%. Total revenue for women-owned rose 46%, while revenue for all businesses rose 36%.
We’ve seen some remarkable changes in business ownership over the last 40-50 years where it pertains to women as well. For instance, did you know that there are over 12 million female business owners in the U.S.? And the vast majority of these business owners own small businesses.
In addition, 40% of business owners today are women. This is up from 4.6% of female-owned businesses in 1972.
One reason for the skyrocket in women business owners is the passing of the Women’s Business Ownership Act in 1988. This pivotal act was designed to help women become business owners and succeed in business ownership.
Through the act, help was awarded to women who wanted to–or already had begun to–own a business. The act provides help such as:
- Grants to women business owners
- Training for women business owners
- Support for entrepreneurial ventures run by women
The act was geared especially toward women who were/are socially and/or economically disadvantaged. As you can see by the above statistics, the act has been a success.
More Success Is Needed
Despite the exciting growth in the number of women-owned businesses today, women still face some challenges in business ownership. For instance, nine out of ten women business owners have businesses that earn less than $100,000 per year.
In addition, most of those businesses are sole proprietorships. In an ideal world, we’d see more growth in the number of medium and large scale businesses owned by women. Which leads to our next question.
How Do I Start A Woman Owned Business?
If you’re a woman with entrepreneurial dreams, you might be wondering how to start your own business. Bouncing off suggestions I got when I started my freelance writing business six years ago, here are some ideas you might be able to use.
Start With A List Of Your Skills And Talents
If you don’t have an idea of what your business should entail, it always helps to start with a list. Make a list of your skills and talents. What are you good at? What can you already do well?
Try to list at least ten skills you have, of things you can do well or can quickly learn how to do well.
Create Business Ideas From That List
Your next step would be to make a list of business ideas using your list of skills and talents. For example:
- Are you detail-oriented? Why not start a business as a Virtual Assistant?
- Can you knit/sew/draw, etc? How about starting an Etsy shop selling your crafts?
- Do you have a knack for finding great deals? Why not start a business buying and reselling items?
- Are you great at cleaning? At organizing? How about starting a cleaning service or home staging company?
So, you’ve got an idea of a business or two you might be able to start. Now’s the time to educate yourself. Start searching online for others who’ve gone before you in your desired field. Watch TED talks or other videos, look for blog sites and search for classes that will show you what you need to do to succeed.
For instance, when I first started blogging (I’m a blog owner too) I had no idea how to blog. In addition, I was basically website illiterate. Through my research, I found Amy Lynn Andrews.
Amy runs a site that will tell you nearly everything you need to know about blogging. And about turning your blog into a business. For free.
No matter what your field, the resources are out there to help you learn how to start and succeed with your business. However, you’ve got to put in the effort to learn–and then implement what you learn.
Implement What You Learn
This is the next step–albeit not necessarily an easy one. At some point, you’ve got to take your idea and your education and start that business.
Learn, learn, learn, and then start making moves to take what you learn to officially start your business. Even if it’s just one step at a time.
Keep Moving Forward
Possibly the most important step as you start your business is to keep moving forward. Those first days will be exciting–and terrifying. Doubt will permeate your mind day and night.
You will get rejected. Or simply ignored. You will gain clients–and lose clients. You might begin to think starting your own business was a bad idea. Just keep moving forward.
If you’ve got a great product or service, integrity, street smarts and a commitment to customer satisfaction, you’ll grow. The growth might be slow at first but hang in there.
When I got my first freelance writing job in the summer of 2013, the pay wasn’t much. But it was pay. It took about six months before I got a second client. And another six months before I got my third client.
I kept moving forward. I learned how to refine and improve my writing skills. I took correction and constructive criticism from clients–and learned from it.
I humbled myself and asked for help when I needed it. I kept moving forward even when I felt defeated and discouraged.
How To Make Your Woman-Owned Business A Big Business
If you have the right business and take the steps mentioned above, there’s no reason you shouldn’t grow. And one day, you may be able to transform your small business into a big business. Here’s how.
Think Outside The Box
You need to start by thinking outside the box. What will it take for you to expand your business?
A bigger facility? More product variety? Additional staff? An expanded vision?
These types of moves might feel scary, but you’ll need to consider them if you want to take your business from small to large.
Or, you may need to start a different business altogether. You have to be willing to think big and think outside the box.
Put “Best” Practices Into Place Now
Along with thinking big for business growth, start putting “best” practices into place now. In a sense, that means treating your small business as if it’s already bigger.
Hire an accounting firm to handle your books. Accounting help is key to business success. Create a budget that will accommodate your larger business expenses. Put the proper legal structure in place for your anticipated business growth.
Start preparing your business for the growth that you expect. In other words, start acting like a bigger business.
Do What it Takes to Grow
Any type of “stretching” period in life and business is difficult. It’s difficult to start a new workout program or new relationship. And it’s difficult to take your business to the next level.
Successful large businesses don’t just “happen”. There are years and years of behind-the-scenes hard work that caused the business to grow.
If you want your business to grow big, keep learning, implementing and advertising until you start to see the types of numbers you want.
Take steps to expand your product or service offerings. Enlarge your business’s service area. Increase marketing on social media sites. Create a plan for hiring additional staff or sales personnel.
Make a list of action steps necessary for growing your business–and then take action.
When Success Arrives, Don’t Forget Where You Came From
Possibly the biggest step to growing your business into a big business is to manage your success thoughtfully. When I first started my writing business, I had to search out work opportunities.
Today, clients come to me asking me if I’ll write for them. The rate I charge today is triple what it was when I started.
But I still work hard to remain humble and take suggestions and corrections. And I still work to provide exemplary service. Why? Because in the world of business ownership today’s client is not necessarily tomorrow’s client.
For that reason, the successful woman business owner should remember her humble beginnings. Use those memories to keep service at peak and mentor other women along the way.
Note: When you’re ready to delegate accounting tasks for your new or growing business, be sure to check out the services Cloud Friday offers.