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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Enterprising Women: Practical Advice for First Time Entrepreneurs



Chapter 2: Plan, Plan, Plan

“You wouldn’t believe how many people start a business without a business plan,” Footpath Coaching owner Lorraine Duncan said. “I believe a business plan is like a GPS.”

Like a global positioning system, a business plan lets you know what direction you will go. It also forces you to think about your marketing strategy, your niche and how your business will run. In addition, it’s necessary if you plan on securing a loan.

When you’re in the planning stages, a business plan is one of the most important actions you can take.

Hanna Guerra, owner of The Busy Genie (www.TheBusyGenie.com) explained, “A woman wanting to go into business for herself ̶ or, anyone for that matter ̶ must go through a reality check. A good business plan is a must. It also needs to address how and where money will be coming in from to make the business sustainable for her and her family, while it discovers its way to stable ground. This is very important because we all know cash flow can be very tight or nil in the first year or so, and someone going into business for herself must be clear on this. Cash flow problems have folded a big percentage of businesses, and that is really important to know and understand.”

“Decide what business you want to set up, build a structured plan of what you need to do in order to build the business and deliver the service/product,” said Karen Warren, owner of Abundance Academy (www.facebook.com/InternetMarketingConsultancy), “It is vital that you do market research before setting up a business to ensure that your market is not saturated already and to see what your competitors are doing and whether you can do things better.”

Eve Viens, owner of Corporate Gifts Boston (www.corporategiftsboston.com) agreed, “thoroughly, thoroughly check the business you are choosing. Research your competitors. Not just locally, but nationally and internationally.”

And even when you’ve completed a business plan, it’s never really completed. It’s a living, breathing document.

“The plan for your business doesn't have to be complete,” said Jerrilynn Thomas, owner of Women Partner (http://womenpartner.org). “You have to be flexible enough to know when to morph to keep up with trends. Social networking caught a lot of people off guard and put them out of business. You have to embrace new trends and ride on their coattails to keep your business relevant.”

Things to Consider
 
All businesses are not created equal – at least not in the eyes of the law and tax collectors. While it may not matter to your customers whether you are a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation, it will matter to you. Each type of business has pros and cons that need to be considered carefully.

In addition to business type, you’ll need an employer identification number (EIN), also known as a tax identification number (TIN) from the IRS and business licenses through your city and/or state. Don’t skip out on buying licenses – many aspiring entrepreneurs are tempted to do so to save money – if you’re caught, your business could be shut down.

Funding
 
We’ve all heard it takes money to make money. Startup funding is a common problem with most businesses and perhaps one of the first obstacles a new entrepreneur will face.

Bridget Moore, owner of Bum Luxury (www.bumluxury.com) put it this way, “You have to invest in your products, and it's not easy to spend a ton of money up front [because you don’t have a ton of money].”

Synergy Hub owner Amanda Frazier said, “There is always money issues. Money is, and always will be, an issue for anyone starting a business. You just have to get creative [with money] and realize a lot of things you need can be substituted with less expensive items.”

Startup funding comes in many forms from bank loans and credit cards to raiding your retirement fund and selling stock to investors. And no matter how much of it you have, it’s never enough.

“Have more funding in place than you believe you’ll need,” said Michell Haase, owner of Travelin Wheels (www.travelinwheels.com).

Many others echoed her sentiments.

Still funding – how much you need, how you’re going to get it and how you’re going to use it – is something every entrepreneur must consider.

Abundance Academy founder Karen Warren said, “My biggest struggles were time and money.”

Sunflower Naturals owner Emily Patterson said, “Always have a backup plan to use in the event of reduced sales of your product, services or information. The economy has a high impact on revenue for single solutions, so keep as many income streams as possible with relation to your business.”

Once a business hosts its grand opening, the financial concerns are not over. Even if you’re skilled at balancing a budget at home, you need to learn accounting for businesses.

“You also need to think differently about money in order to cover the cost of doing business,” said Cindy Kurman Barrie, owner of Kurman Communications (www.kurman.com).

Having a budget, keeping a budget and spending funds wisely is vitally important.

 
“Be careful with your money,” said Jaylin Bailey, owner of Maryland Home Business Expo (www.Mhbexpo.com). “Don’t go out and spend money on things you don’t need, start with what you have. Keep a balance between making money and spending money on marketing. There are creative ways to market; allocate your funds wisely.”

About the Author: Melina Druga is a freelance writer and copy editor with more than a decade of experience. She provides her predominately female clients with a variety of editorial services including news articles, blog posts, newsletters, proofreading, line editing and editorial critiques.

About the Book: Many women dream of going into business for themselves and working from home. Few actually accomplish this goal. Enterprising Women: Practical Advice for First Time Entrepreneurs provides useful advice to aspiring business owners on marketing, business plans, outsourcing, taking care of oneself and more. It also features interviews with 40 women in various stages of entrepreneurship. It is available for purchase on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C1NM2H8) and as a PDF (http://melinadruga.contentshelf.com).


The Enterprising Women Summer 2013 Virtual Book Tour runs June 23-Sept. 20 please visit http://melinadruga.wix.com/enterprising-women#!booktour/c2249 before Sept. 1 for more details. 

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