If you’ve thought about branching out into the world of entrepreneurialism but shied away because you thought the challenge was overwhelming, you might want to think again. There are numerous resources available to women today that may not have been available even a decade ago. If you have a great idea, the details can be conquered with a bit of guidance. Since lack of direction seems to be the greatest obstacle in establishing a new business, a simple outline can help you reach your goal with purpose and efficiency.
As the old adage goes, you’ll need money to make money. The Small Business Association is your best resource for financial provision (www.sba.gov/starting/). Unless you’re starting a massive corporation where you’ll need investors and substantial capital, the SBA can lend up to $50,000, usually without collateral. They offer a variety of programs and an impressive pile of paperwork to help you make smart choices about your business venture. They offer an easy to follow checklist that will equip you with a roadmap to the job of your dreams by providing a step-by-step guide as to what you must do legally and practically to launch your business. Many banks offer small business loans and credit lines that may fit your needs, and if you have a relationship with your banker, ask what they offer to business customers.
The government, of course, will want a piece of your pie. It’s imperative that you speak with a business attorney to determine that you have filed the proper paperwork to establish your business as a sole, partnership, LLC, or corporate entity. You can pick up forms at your local library or some office supply stores and go the do-it-yourself route — but if you do, be sure to consult with a legal source to assure that you have filed your forms properly. You want customers chasing after you, NOT an IRS agent.
If you’re entrepreneurial at heart, the Internet is your friend. Search the net for discussion groups about your specific business type and your search results should produce a long list of groups that will help to support and direct you. Try Google Groups or Yahoo Groups, but be sure to verify that the content that you are presented with is legitimate by confirming it with other sources. You’ll be amazed at the many people who are just a few steps ahead of you in building a business, who are willing to offer tips. Also search for discussion group directories, which can produce an exhaustive list of appropriate Web sites to check out.
BizLink is another online resource in your entrepreneurial quest. Visit www.bizlink.org to find a collection of business magazines with articles that pertain to your specific questions and needs. You can search the database by utilizing keywords about the company name, industry or subject. There’s lot of information just waiting to be discovered.
And one of the best organizations out there providing mostly free and confidential advice to small businesses is SCORE. They’ve helped everyone from Vermont Teddy Bear to Jelly Belly Candy. There are seminars, professional counselors with marketplace experience, online email advice and various business tools at your disposal. There is a small, reasonable fee for some of the seminars, but no cost for newsletters and other practical knowledge. It is invaluable for small businesses and entrepreneurs. www.score.org.
So do a little research and take the leap into working for yourself. The rewards will make all the work you invest into the venture vastly worthwhile!