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go womens, get your game on!
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The Rise of Women-Owned Businesses By Nan Mooney These days the fastest growing sector of business owners isn't twenty-somethings or high-tech entrepreneurs. It's women. Women, in record numbers, are deserting the corporate sector, taking their leadership qualities and their creative spirits and starting businesses on their own. They cover fields ranging from cookie baking to high-rise construction, running everything from one-woman operations to sizable companies.

According to the Center for Women's Business Research, as of 2006, there were 7.7 million firms either owned by women, or in which women held the majority share. They account for 29.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S., a rise of 42.3 percent since 1997. Not only are such businesses good for women, they're good for the economy, generating $1.1 trillion in annual sales and employing 7.2 million people nationwide.

There's no single reason behind this dramatic rise, but rather a confluence of factors that have made the business world more hospitable to women, and women more open to entrepreneurship. For some the motivation is financial.

"I started my business out of a sense of urgency," said Sherill Anthony, founder of Westfield Comics, which sells pop culture merchandise to an international clientele. "In 1976 I sold my home and moved with my teenaged sons to attend graduate school. By 1979 the money was almost gone and, being a single parent, I had no other source of income. So, my boys and I talked about what we could do to make some money. They were very interested in comic books and that was the genesis of our company. We started our business on the kitchen table. My boys were my first two employees."

Forging their own path Some women get frustrated by the struggle to rise through a traditional corporate structure. They often experience an "ah ha" moment while working for others that "I could do this and I could do it better."

"It was time for me to do something that fit me, instead of me fitting to one of my former jobs," said Caroline Stanley, who for six years has run Red Jewel Inc., a consulting and marketing firm for the fine jewelry trade. "I had a variety of jobs that taught me many skills, but I had no way to put them all together. Opening my own business gave me that opportunity."
Others seek a degree of flexibility and job security that they've found elusive in the corporate world.

"Over the years I have developed a number of strong relationships with clients," said Caitlin Rothermel, who heads a group of medical writers called MedLitera. "This makes me feel a stronger sense of job security than most people I know. I also have complete flexibility -- most of the time -- with my time." Rothermel and all her employees are working moms.

"I see the rise in women-owned businesses as a corollary to the women's movement," says Lisa Hickey, the president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and herself the owner of two businesses. "As women have attained more and more successes, they've come to realize that anything is possible. And they're seeing that the best way to have control of your financial future is to do it on your own."
These days, the increasing viability of female entrepreneurship means there are more resources available to guide potential owners through every step of the process from analyzing an initial idea through formulating a business plan and securing the funding that will make it a reality.

NAWBO, founded in 1975, has local chapters throughout the country. Over the years it's been joined by organizations like Springboard Enterprises, devoted to helping female entrepreneurs raise venture capital, and the Office of Women Business Ownership (OWBO), an offshoot of the federal Small Business Administration.

A woman with a plan Of course, it's a major leap from having an idea to getting a business off the ground. It's wise to begin by getting a business education. That can mean earning an M.B.A. or taking a business course at the local community college.

Before investing time and money, it's important to understand the basics of how a business works and whether an idea really does have potential.

The next step is to create a business plan detailing the strategy you plan to employ to turn your vision into a reality. This might be something you present to future investors or just use to keep your personal vision on target.

Once you've got a plan, the final step is to begin raising money. Depending on the size and needs of your operation, that may include friends and family, loans or outside investors. Small business loans are available from a number of banks as well as the Small Business Administration. And though still heavily weighted towards male-owned companies, a growing amount of venture capital is being invested in women-owned start-ups too.

Beyond this, owning and running a successful business takes qualities like flexibility and a sense of perspective that many women learn in other walks of life.

"My kids have taught me everything I know about being an entrepreneur," said Francine Lucidon, owner of the Voracious Reader, a children's bookstore in Larchmont, N.Y. "For instance, be ready to do whatever it takes. And know that the process, like anything else, will be continually growing and changing along with you."

"Make sure that the people you love are on board with the choice," said Sylvie Blaustein, who has run her own midwifery practice, Midwives of Manhattan, since 2003. "Remember to take care of yourself as well as you take of your employees. And above all remember that your business is your job, not your life."
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Re: go womens, get your game on! [kittycat] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for that. Now we just need to get more women-owned businesses to break the $1M mark. I remember reading somewhere that a very low number of female entrepreneurs actually hit that mark and the question that was raised was is it because the women didn't have the managerial skills or business plan to break the number (ie - more women go into "cooking" type businesses whereas more men go into "technology" which typically has a larger revenue stream) or is it that many women choose to go the entreprenueral route to have a better balanced lifestyle and therefore aren't willing to give up what's needed from a lifestyle standpoint in order to hit that $1M mark. At a recent women's entreprenuer conference a female business owner said that she had turned down venture capital funding because she didn't want to expand the company and grow at a rapid rate - she wanted to make enough money to keep her family happy and still have time to spend with the family. Ideally I'd like to figure out a way to do both. :)

</blatent self-marketing>
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Re: go womens, get your game on! [lilpups] [ In reply to ]
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ah, interesting. i never had aspirations for the 1M, although i have a girlfriend who should achieve that in 2008 or 2009.

personally, i felt that if i could have my independence, earn a strong income and be able to have time to do other things then that is the perfect balance for me. there is alot of sacrifice to hit 1M, and i was never willing to do that.

what i find funny if that women get "assigned" an income number for achievement. i don't think women think like this "once i hit 1M then i've made it". women tend to have a broader focus in life, it's not just "about work".

i don't like that revenue number being attached to success; if i can earn between 100K-250K without a single employee or office space (as i have done since i've been in business), then i'm hard pressed to NOT define that as "successful". not to mention, i have TWO business, and also run this household.

men in a similar situation, often pond off everything onto their female counterpart. sorry, but women in business are doing MORE than our contemporary male counterparts.

besides, it is entirely likely to invest in a company to achieve 1M, and earn the same income i would out of my little home office all by myself. consider employees, space, taxes, health insurance, retirement funding, etc.

maybe women realize hitting 1M isn't what it's cracked up to be. it is EXPENSIVE to hit 1M.
women are just smarter than men in this regard. isn't that entirely possible? (HELL YES)

another thought is that it's only a matter of time before many women begin to hit 1M. so, if it wasn't 1M we're being compared to, it would be something else. such thinking is demeaning, and is an attempt to point out, "yeah, but women haven't done .... THIS!" The comparison of 1M is a derivative of male thinking, probably in attempts to be better, or out of feeling threatened.

what men should realize is that 30 years ago most women stayed home, or if they did work it was generally as administrative support (typists, etc). we have come a long way in a short time, no question about it.

i think we're doing pretty damned good, and we'll get there. so, men who are scared shitless of the womens, well...they should be. ;)

Last edited by: kittycat: Mar 13, 08 6:38
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Re: go womens, get your game on! [kittycat] [ In reply to ]
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Our local and might I add FANTASTIC running shop is predominantly owned by a woman. She opened it originally in May of 1995 I think in a little house. Now, she has 3 stores total, 2 co-owners, and runs an events management company for races! She also is the spearhead and chairman (or chairwoman) of the Mercedes Marathon. That woman's got drive, ambition, and creativity! I am honored to be able to call her friend! She's kind of the big sister to my husband and myself, only being a handful of years older. She has a precious kido too!!!

The neatest thing about the Trak Shak is that, as far as employees go (my husband is there PT but was once FT), we are a family. She has created a very unique environment in the store and in the events the event company she does in conjunction with the Shak and the running community here has exploded in the last 3-5 years.

Tiger for Life -- War Eagle!

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Re: go womens, get your game on! [kittycat] [ In reply to ]
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These days the fastest growing sector of business owners isn't twenty-somethings or high-tech entrepreneurs. It's women.

Don"t you mean womens? :)

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