Women own about 10.1 million businesses in the United States and employ one in every seven American workers. As a woman, starting a business can be tough, from many different angles, not the least of which is work-life balance. But the good news is that there are also extra resources out there for female entrepreneurs, intended to encourage the growth of woman-owned businesses.
So if you’re getting ready to launch your own small business, make the best of it by following these six golden money rules. Five apply to business owners across the board (after all, being a female doesn’t make you that much different as a business owner), and one is a tip just for women.
1. Consider crowdfunding
If you’re starting a business that will benefit the world socially or environmentally, you should definitely check out crowdfunding. Other types of businesses may not have as much luck on these platforms, but they are worth considering. By using a crowdfunding campaign through a platform like Kickstarter, you can raise small amounts of money to help finance your business, without the hefty fees (or possible rejection) you’d get from a bank loan. With crowdfunding, it’s important to be honest with your supporters and deliver something to them in return for their donation.
2. Invest in relationships
The “spend money to make money” rule may be nowhere more overlooked with small business owners than when it comes to building business relationships. These days, networking is the backbone of many small business startups. So whether this means paying for a membership to your local Chamber of Commerce so you can attend its events, taking other entrepreneurs out for coffee, or even hosting a female entrepreneur’s book club at your home, plan to invest plenty of time and a little money into your business relationships.
3. Hire people who are smarter than you
Too many entrepreneurs allow their ego or low self-esteem to get in the way when it comes to hiring employees and even contractors. But if you want to build a great business, you’ve got to have great people working for you. If you’re not a tech nerd, for instance, you need to hire the absolute best tech consultant you can afford for your business’s website and computer setup. Likewise, if sales aren’t your forte, hire someone who is an excellent salesperson. Yes, this means that payroll will end up taking a bigger chunk of your business’s money, but it will be well worth your while in the long run when those sharp employees far outperform C-list employees or college interns.
4. Know your business’s weekly cash flow
As a small business owner, even if you aren’t the one actually balancing the books, it’s vital to know exactly what you have coming in and going out on a weekly basis. Weekly is a better option than monthly because chances are likely that you’ll be more flush with cash at some points in the month than in others, especially as you’re getting started. Invest in bookkeeping software or a small business credit card that helps you keep close tabs on your business’s cash flow so that you can do most of your growth from the money you actually make.
5. Start as small as you can
Too many entrepreneurs start with a huge idea, which means that they have to take out a huge loan to cover it. There’s nothing wrong with starting your small business with a reasonable loan or even a decent business credit card. But don’t get in over your head from the start. It’s a better idea to start with just one product or service. Be excellent at that, build your customer base, and reinvest your earnings into your business to grow organically without stressing about a ton of debt.
6. Understand what’s out there for you as a woman
As a woman, you’ve got a few opportunities for business start-up and financing available specifically to you. For instance, the Small Business Administration offers some loans and even grants specifically for female-owned businesses. You can also check out resources like the National Women’s Business Council, the Association of Women Business Owners, and the National Association for Female Executives for other informational and financial resources. (Hint: these are all also good options for making connections and building business relationships.)
Establishing a business as a woman can be somewhat intimidating, but others before you have already broken right through the proverbial glass ceiling. So use the resources that are available to you, including those directed set aside specifically for female entrepreneurs, and join the movement of women business owners across the U.S.