Guest writer: Deborah Sweeney
According to the US Small Business Administration, companies owned and run by women are the fastest growing segment of new businesses. As of 2014, there were an estimated
9.1 Million woman-owned enterprises active in the United States, which accounts for 30 percent of all privately held firms. We’ve obviously proven we have what it takes to cut it in business. But, when I talk to other women who are exploring entrepreneurship, there is always a bit of trepidation, simply because they aren’t even sure where to start. So, to help spur the growth of woman-owned firms, here is my advice for any woman thinking about starting her own business.
Tackle anxiety by planning
A 2010 study on global female entrepreneurship found that women fear the failure of their business more than men, meaning this is a substantial obstacle to overcome. The threat of failure in omnipresent – I’ve been running MyCorp for a little over five years now, and despite how well we’ve been doing, I’m always afraid the tides may turn. And that may be good as a fear of failure means you’re always striving for growth. However, I know all too well how paralyzing that fear can be.
Planning is a great way to tackle anxiety because it forces you to separate all of your worries into smaller, manageable tasks. For example, a business can fail because sales are too low. If you’re worried about that, you should start working on your advertising, look into new sales tactics, and try to identify new markets. Each of those tasks can be broken up even further – changing your advertising could mean establishing a social presence, networking within your community, and spreading word of mouth. These are bite-size, accomplishable jobs. And as you complete them, your anxiety will start to wane.
Don’t be afraid to start small
There is no such thing as being too small when you first start out. The majority of small businesses qualify as non-employer firms – that means that the only person on the payroll is the owner. In fact, when I took over MyCorp, once of my first big decisions was to cut some of the fat and make it a proper small business again. It’s okay to start in a home office or a garage, with only yourself on the payroll. Tons of successful small businesses started as side projects run out of the owner’s house. Get away with being a lean, quick-moving company for as long as you can to save up money. Then, when you’re in a good financial position, start expanding.
Take it one step at a time
Starting a small business is done one step at a time. You, at the very least, need a ‘Doing Business As’ name since one is required to do any banking or advertising under your business’s name. Then you need to file for local licenses and permits – the SBA has a handy tool for that.
You also have to pay quarterly, estimated taxes if you expect to owe more than $1,000 in taxes, collect sales tax, and pay any franchise fees your state levies. If you hire people, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number. Once all of your paperwork is in, you can start focusing on sales, marketing, and actually running your business. Just don’t let yourself start to tread water. List out what needs to be done every day, and stick to your plan. That way you won’t have to worry about feeling overwhelmed.
Starting a small business is a big decision, so being a bit anxious is understandable. Remember that you don’t have to jump in with both feet – it’s okay to test the waters first. But
when it looks like you have an opportunity to start something great, plan your course of attack, and then take it one step at a time. When you run a business, you can be your own worse enemy. As long as you stay proactive, though, you’ll find that running a business is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
Author’s bio: Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, doing all the work so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.