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  • 23 October 2014
  • Dr. Billy M.

Women business entrepreneurs: find your opportunity and take it

Today, women entrepreneurs from all walks of life are starting businesses that more closely align with their own personal values, affording them greater freedom and flexibility. Whether you're a student, a mother, returning to the workforce after raising children, or a retiree, you can seamlessly transition into starting a business or embarking on a new career. It all starts with finding, then choosing to follow, your passion.

By the numbers
According to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), women currently own 9.1 million businesses, which translates to a 29.8-percent share of existing firms. These account for 6.2 percent of the workforce in the United States. In addition, women's businesses generate over $1.4 trillion in sales, a 3.9-percent share of total revenue generated by the entire U.S. business community. The majority of women-owned businesses exist in service sectors such as health care, social assistance, and education, followed by retail, finance, and construction.

Many women will be looking for freedom, flexibility, and control when starting a business.

The top sources of capital for women-owned enterprises are informal investors, such as family and friends, followed by individual angel investors, corporate investors, and, lastly, venture capital firms. Seed funding averages $10,000, with only 8 percent using $50,000 or more to start their businesses.

First things first
It may be helpful to research how others have succeeded with their business ideas. Go online and find stories that chronicle successful women in business and other fields. Their backgrounds and career paths will inspire and motivate you so you can better anticipate obstacles and how to overcome them. Further, conduct research on those who have paved the way in your particular field to give you an idea of a typical career path.

You'll also likely need a healthy dose of specialized knowledge related to the business you are launching. Consider taking some refresher courses in business management and strategy, and determine what your best business practices will be. Also consider joining a professional organization where you can interact with and learn from other women in business, such as the National Association of Professional Women, or one related to your field of choice, like Young Women in Digital or Women in Healthcare Management.

Become a "mompreneur"
If you're a mom, you probably already have many of the skills required to successfully start a business. Your experience running a household and juggling multiple tasks throughout the day gives you that edge you need to be an entrepreneur.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 26 percent of working women with children under the age of 18 have flexible schedules, compared to 14 percent reported in 1991. Additionally, 75 percent of the almost 10 million women-owned businesses in America report "zero employees". These are sometimes referred to as mompreneur-owned businesses. This new type of businessperson is ringing in a new era of stay-at-home "hybrid mom" entrepreneurship, where there is a less rigid divide between personal and professional life.

Ideally, your entrepreneurial spirit will be driven by your lifestyle. Many women will be looking for freedom, flexibility, and control when starting a business. Other reasons may be supplemental, reflecting your lifestyle, including creativity, fulfillment, and passion. No matter your reason, becoming a mompreneur might just be your ticket to freedom and success as a businesswoman.

It's never too early — or too late
If you're young, employed, but feel stuck, know that you have options. Although you may not have the experience required to start a business in your early 20s, you certainly have the drive, along with the time and energy to Carefully plan your idea and see it to fruition.

If, however, you are an aspiring "late-bloomer entrepreneur," you should already have the life and work experience required to propel yourself toward business autonomy. You should not be held back by your current situation or allow yourself to be defined by your age. According to an infographic assembled by Funders and Founders, Robin Chase became the co-founder of the now-ubiquitous Zipcar brand at the age of 42. If you create a plan of action for yourself and pursue your passion, your business could become the next Zipcar.

Once you find your passion, you can successfully join the ranks of other women business entrepreneurs — regardless of your stage in life. All you need is confidence, persistence, and balance.

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