| OUTSIDE THE BOX
Seven Tips for Women Starting a Business
by Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig
Note: This article appears in the May 2021 print edition of Information Today under the title "A Woman’s Guide to Starting a Business."
Over the past decade, female-owned and female-operated businesses have become some of the most successful, according to Pailor, a private network of women business owners. “The number of women-owned businesses has increased by 31 times since the first time the U.S. Census Bureau provided data on minority-owned and women-owned businesses in 1972, from 402,000 to 12.3 million,” the site reports, citing The Business Journals. “And while the number of women-owned businesses grew 58 percent from 2007 to 2018, firms owned by women of color grew at nearly three times that rate (163 percent)” (blog.pailor.org/resources/2021-for-women-business-owners).
According to some experts, finding new ways to make money while navigating the pandemic has been top of mind for many previously working women and moms. This has prompted a renewed interest in business ownership. However, stay-at-home orders in many states and a reduced income forced these women to take what they knew and/or loved and turn it into ventures that embraced a more virtual world. The following sections provide some quick must-have advice and must-do tips to ensure growth, success, and peace of mind while maintaining a business from home.
LICENSING, REGULATIONS, INSURANCE, TAXES
Licensing, regulations, insurance, and taxes are definitely not the fun parts of owning your own business, but they are important. Too many times, we want to jump first and ask questions later. However, if you want to make more money than you spend, take care of these four areas ASAP.
The first thing to remember is that home-based businesses are subject to all four, and it’s up to you to do research to know what is best or required for your type of venture. Do you want to be a sole proprietor, or do you think you need a limited liability company? Is your neighborhood zoned for your specific product and/or service? How do you make sure that you figure the correct amount and type of insurance for your space, equipment, item(s) sold, and so on? And have you legally made the right decisions for your business in order to pay the least—while getting the most—on your taxes? There are many places to find these answers, but here are a few all-in-one resources:
STAYING CONNECTED WITH THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
These days, one of the most important tools you need for any type of business is a desktop computer or laptop. The make and model are up to the individual; however, if you are using an existing computer or laptop, be sure that it is not too old, has plenty of memory for the job you will be doing, and is protected from viruses and/or malware.
And the most important tool is Wi-Fi. Making sure you have good, reliable Wi-Fi and an adequate number of gigabytes to keep your business up and running is a given. Here are some sites to get you going:
MANAGING YOUR MONEY
If making money isn’t one of your priorities when you launch a new business, then you might as well close up shop now. Yes, you want to enjoy what you’re doing and be your own boss, but in order to be successful at both of these, you need to make money—and then grow your business.
Math isn’t my strong suit when it comes to finances,so I rely on online programs and apps. However, I first researched how to best manage my business and personal monies—separately and combined. Some great advice can be found here:
CREATING A POSITIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Finding creative ways to set up your workspace is crucial. In addition, you want to make a schedule that works for both you and your family, and be sure you adhere to some form of organization. Bonus tip: Find a plan that works for you, not necessarily the masses. Check out the following:
FINDING A MENTOR
Although the numbers show that women-owned businesses are on the rise, it still can be daunting to launch a venture that goes up against men’s initiatives. Because of this, there are many (and a growing number of) organizations and programs that provide a mentoring hand at no charge. Here are two of them:
PERFECTING WORK-LIFE BALANCE
The business you’ve created at home is even more prone to complications if you don’t master the art of balance—work-life balance, that is. The following sites can help:
SCHEDULING SELF-CARE TIMEOUTS
Your business is up and running, your Zoom meetings are on point, your kids are fed and their homework is done, you’ve found a way to balance all areas of your life, and your clients/customers are multiplying beyond your wildest dreams. Now what? Stay tuned next issue for ideas that will help you take those much-needed breaks (yes, plural!) without the guilt.