I am considering branching out on my own. What unique obstacles do women starting their own business face? What should I know before getting started? – Nanea in Wailuku, Hawaii
Nanea, fear and financing are the two of the biggest obstacles women face when starting their own business. While these may not appear unique, they are. Financing is pre-loaded with staggering gender bias. In 2017, women received a shamefully pathetic 2% of venture capital dollars. Fear is also an especially powerful limiter for women. We are trained from birth to take the back seat. We must teach ourselves to take the leap and be bold.
Regardless of gender, we all share many common challenges when launching a new business. The Small Business Administration is a great resource. Here is a very short list of considerations from my own background.
Your Knowledge and Expertise
It’s much easier to build on your own experience and proficiency. While starting any new venture can be like drinking out of a fire hose, this is amplified when it’s industry, market, or type of business.
Potential Market for Goods or Services
Do your research rather than assuming there is a customer base for your “next big thing” concept. Test, pivot, and repeat over and over again until you get traction and discover your niche.
Resources – People & Money
This is so much out there about who you know, and for a good reason. Your relationships are a great resource to tap for advice and insights. Identify your champions who will assist and help you. Access to funds to finance and grow your business will make or break you. Understand your burn rate and have your eyes wide open and both feet firmly grounded in reality. Cash flow issues remain the number one reason new businesses fail.
Starting a new business is intoxicating, thrilling, and terrifying. There will be loads of hard work and long hours, and your personal life may suffer as you work to get your business off the ground and running. My final caveat is to examine your priorities, the sacrifices you may need to make, and your ability to weather the emotional roller coaster you are about to embark upon. Now buckle yourself in and enjoy the ride. Nanea, you can do this!
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.