Women Empowered Through Business Ownership

Helen Reddy said it best in the 70s: “I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore…” The 70s may have had some bad clothes and disco music, but the 70s also opened the door for women, and in many ways, became the Decade of The Woman.

Women have become empowered over the last 30 to 40 years in wide variety of ways, but one of the biggest ways women have become empowered is through business ownership.

The statistics on woman-owned businesses are impressive and empowering enough on their own:

Women In Business:

  • As of 2008, there were 10.1 million firms owned by women. (Ownership is defined as owning 50% or more of a company.)
  • These businesses employ over 13 million people, and (as of 2008) had generated $1.9 trillion in sales.
  • Women-owned businesses make up over 40% of all privately held companies.
  • One in five companies reporting revenue in excess of $1 million is a woman-owned business.
  • 3% of businesses owned by women report revenue of $1 million or more.
  • According to score.org, 69% of women are more likely to seek business advice than their male counterparts. Only 47% of men will seek advice. (Does this really surprise anyone, give the whole “men won’t ask for directions” thing?!)
  • Women-owned business have been growing at twice the rate of all U.S. companies.

Women Of Color And Business Ownership:

  • Women of color owned 1.9 million businesses in 2008.
  • These businesses generate $165 billion in revenue annually, and employee 1.2 million people.
  • Between 2002 and 2008, women of color owned businesses grew more quickly than any other privately held companies.

Clearly, women are a very entrepreneurial group! Studies have long shown that women are capable multi-taskers, effective problem solvers, creative in approaches to many aspects of daily life, and are often the financial planners at home. These unique skills have lent themselves beautifully to the empowerment of women through business ownership.

Women often create successful businesses because they have identified a need through a specific set of circumstances. Women have created hair care products specifically due to the lack of products they want or need and can’t find. Mother’s Helpers and Home Fairies came about because women have long wished that “they had a wife.” Niche businesses developed for women by women are hugely successful simply because women identify with other women on a very specific level.

There are many opportunities in today’s market for an enterprising woman to develop her own business, big or small.

In an article by ask.org, these six start-up business ideas were marked as “Hot Markets For Small Businesses:”

  1. eBay drop-off sites
  2. Search Engine Optimization and Internet Marketing
  3. Performance Apparel
  4. Niche Health and Fitness
  5. Technology Security Consulting
  6. Service/Products For the Hispanic Market

However, the list for starting your own business is virtually endless. Take a look around you and see if there is a business need that can be filled.

Other ideas for women-owned businesses include:

  • Tutoring
  • Free-lance article writing for online business promotions
  • Gourmet Food production and sales (Think Mrs. Field’s cookies!)
  • Personalized Gift Basket Sales
  • Resume Writing
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Pet Sitters
  • Web Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Online Affiliate Marketing
  • Internet Marketing Mentoring and Coaching

Many of these business ideas can be started with little working capital. Not all businesses take a large investment for start-up costs. Many of the ideas listed above can be done from home with no employees and no overhead costs such as rent, insurance, additional utilities, etc. And, many work-from-home businesses are entitled to a tax break because you are using your home as an office.

If starting your own business is appealing to you, or starting your own home-based business is an idea you’d like to turn into a reality, then pick a direction, research what you would need to get you started, and join the millions of other women who have been empowered through business ownership!

There really is something to that “I am woman, hear me roar,” song. Thanks, Helen Reddy!

Business Ownership – 4 Things to Consider Before Jumping Into Business Ownership

Are you making the income you desire?

Do you have the flexibility and freedom of time to do the things you love, such as spending time with your children?

Do you enjoy getting up every morning and going to work?

If the answer to any of these is no, ask yourself “why not?” Could it be time to find a new job or career?

70% of the adult population has a desire to be self-sufficient. Only 5% of them ever achieve this through business ownership. Why? Most people don’t know how to research business ownership and fear they may choose the wrong business.

Many people have misconceptions about business ownership. Some feel it costs more than it really does; some feel it costs less than it really does; some feel it is harder than it actually is; and some feel it is easier than it really is.

At one time you may have researched the cost of a McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, or Subway (these seem to be the most popular) only to discover you need a net worth of $500,000 or more. YIPES!!

Yes, many of the well-known franchises cost a lot of money. In one respect you are paying for the name. But also, restaurants, which most people think of when they think of franchising, are one of the most expensive businesses you can open.

Most people don’t realize; when you open a restaurant, YOU will own the tables, chairs, countertops, refrigerators, stoves, dishes, cookware, and the list goes on and on. Restaurant equipment can be expensive even for the basics. You may or may not own the land and building, but you will at a minimum be leasing prime real estate which can be costly. But, if you don’t have a prime location, then the restaurant will not do well.

On the flip side, relatively inexpensive home-based or van-based businesses are alternatives to expensive, well-known franchises. Since home-based businesses don’t require a visible storefront, people won’t know that you, the business or product exists. Home-based businesses are dependent on “sweat equity,” your time, money and effort required to advertise and build up a clientele.

For a home-based business you must know the best way to sell yourself and your product or service. Word of mouth can only get you so far. Advertising is expensive and many times ineffective. You must enjoy being out and about meeting people telling them your business is open and what product or service you are offering.

Once you have decided on your business, how do you ensure success? Most businesses fail because of poor planning, which generally leads to insufficient operating funds before the business makes the turn to profitability.

Planning needs to consider the price of the property (buying or leasing), fixtures required, technology required, marketing material creation, graphic designers, copy writers, inventory, research, the elusive operating expenses and personal living costs while the business gets off the ground.

Based on your demographic studies (you did do these didn’t you?) how long will it be before you break even and start taking home a salary sufficient to cover YOUR living expenses? Knowing what price the market will bear for your product or service will help you determine your break-even point.

How many employees will you need and how much will they cost? What will your utilities run? What about your real estate costs – lease or purchase, public building or home-based, fixed or mobile?

YIPES!!! How do you find out all this information? Research! Talk to other business owners. Find a mentor or a personal business coach.

How hard is business ownership? If you think you can quit your 50-60 hour per week job to open a business and only work 30-40 hours a week then you think business ownership is easier than it is.

Owning a business means you don’t have a traditional “job”, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have to WORK for a living!

No one will tell you business ownership is easy; if it was everyone would own a business. Business owners typically (1) find careers they are passionate about BEFORE they make the leap and (2) find the benefits of working for themselves outweigh their hours and hard work.

When you own a business no one makes you work long hours or put in the extra effort except yourself. No one can fire you for leaving work for a couple of hours to go see your children play baseball or soccer. On the other hand, customers can “fire” you if they expect you to be open or to arrive at a certain time, and you don’t.

Unlike a traditional job, when you own a business your income is dependent upon your ability to find and retain clientele, and the perceived value of your product or service. This is especially true for home-based or van-base businesses.

Do you have the itch to own a business? Is business ownership right for you?

You can only answer these questions if you know what you are passionate about, what your long term dreams are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, what your likes and dislikes are.

Business ownership can be scary; it can also be very rewarding. Research your ideas and plan appropriately to achieve the success you want.

Exploring Business Ownership – Craft Your Reason to Be in Business (Part 3 of 7)

We’re exploring the ins and outs of business ownership for wannabe business owners who are considering taking the plunge. In part 2 we decided that a good definition of a successful business is…

A self-sustaining entity that allows you to achieve your lifestyle goals.

Defining Your Lifestyle Goals

What lifestyle do you want your business to provide? As I shared in part 1, some people fantasize that business ownership will allow them to be waited on hand-and-foot on the French Rivera, which I refer to as “gentleman farmer’s syndrome.” Fair warning: Maybe you can achieve that goal after retirement, but failing to actively oversee your business while you own it means your business will almost certainly fail!

Even big business is not immune from this fact of life. A good example is Lee Iacocca when he moved from the #2 spot at Ford to assume the chairmanship of Chrysler Corporation. He first focused on rescuing the troubled automaker by bringing out the K car (remember the K cars?) and introducing the mini-van (originally a Ford concept that Ford didn’t feel there was a market for). His efforts were successful and Chrysler was able to pay back their government loan in full, ahead of schedule. In fact, the federal government actually made money from the first Chrysler bailout.

But even a corporation as large and talented as Chrysler suffered while he was later distracted in the 1980’s by traveling to raise funds to restore the Statue of Liberty. Chrysler lost market share during that period that it never regained. Without the captain guiding the ship it wandered off course and again required a huge effort to just avoid disaster.

Get rid of any visions (hallucinations?) that you have of creating a business that would support a gentleman farmer’s lifestyle. It’s the road to financial disaster. Successful businesses always have active owner involvement and oversight.

Your Goals May Change

In reality, lifestyle goals vary widely and may change over time. Some may want to make huge sums of money, but others might place a higher priority on having a flexible work schedule, or not having to work backshift or weekends or holidays. Still others really desire a business that creates intellectual stimulation (think Steve Jobs of Apple Computer) or positions them in the spotlight as a community leader. And others might want control of their calendar so they can be at Parents to Lunch with their elementary school child or be able to ramp down their calendar during the summer months when the kids are out of school.

The point is that you may value one or more of these attributes above making large sums of money. Craft YOUR reason for wanting to be in business. Don’t simply adopt someone else’s.

Still have the “itch?” Employees, franchise owners, and entrepreneurs all think differently. In part 4 we’ll explore how employees think differently from business owners.

This is What Transfer of Business Ownership Entails

There are many reasons that may lead one to transfer his business ownership to another party. One reason is that, the owner may wish to move on to a different locality, and since he may not be able to oversee its operations from far, he may be forced to just give up his ownership rights to someone else. The steps are easy, but should follow a legal process, in case of misunderstanding issues that may arise later on.

Since there are many methods through which someone can carry out the transfer of a business ownership, it is good to first understand the implications of each method and settle for the one that suits your personal situation. The most suitable is the one that fits your psychological satisfaction as well as financial state. Methods of transfer, like sale of the business will mean that you will be able to receive some financial gains from what you have invested in over years.

If on the other hand you choose to pass on the ownership to a son or daughter, you may not have the full confidence that the venture will run the way you will want it to. All the same, there is a price to be paid for all the choices we make. If you decide to lease out your business, be sure to follow all the legal requirements that will protect both you and the lessee from future misunderstandings.

Leasing allows you the opportunity to continue earning from the business as you will be entitled to monthly payments or periodic payments according to what both parties will agree and sign to in the contract. In the lease, you could also agree with the lessee that they will buy the entire business after some period of time.