It's no surprise that the number of women-owned businesses is growing. Many women are entrepreneurial in nature and while some still enjoy the stability of a corporate job others are destined to be their own boss. In fact, according to a recent report from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Web.com "more women business owners identify themselves as born-entrepreneurs who are in search of the right idea to build a business around."
Over the past few years, we have seen a rise in "mompreneurs" as an increasing number of mothers desire a career path that allows them to earn an income while maintaining a flexible schedule that meets their families' needs. For many mothers, starting their own business is the best way to fulfill their professional aspirations without the typical constraints of a corporate job.
According to findings from the 2014 State of Women-owned Businesses Report from American Express OPEN there are more than 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, up from 8.6 million last year. These firms employee over 7.8 million people in addition to the owner and generate $1.4 trillion in revenues. The report estimates that women are starting new businesses at a rate of 1,288 a day. Now, that is something to be proud of!
I'm sure there are many other women who are considering the benefits of starting their own business and some advice to them includes:
Build a business network. Many people often say that it takes a village to raise a family. The same can be true for women who want to start a business. There is no reason you have to go at it alone. Building a business network can help you and other female entrepreneurs pool resources, share expertise and support each other. Research has shown that strong network ties are critical for women entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to accessing capital. While women are making headway in securing financing, Pitchbook reports that women-founded companies represented 13 percent of Venture Capital deals through the first half of 2013. Having strategic connections can help women navigate the complex investment environment and secure the financing they need to support their business.
Take advantage of available resources. There are numerous organizations dedicated to helping women succeed. You should visit their websites, participate in networking sessions, and call them for advice -- they are there to help you! Some of the many groups include: The National Association For Moms In Business, National Association of Women Business Owners, and the U.S. SBA's Women's Business Centers. Many of these organizations provide free resources which may be exactly what you need to take your business concept to the next level.
Find a mentor and then become one. Many successful women have taken a leap of faith to start their own business. Seeking a mentor who can give you advice and encouragement is an important way to build confidence and reassure you that you are on the right path. You will likely come across some challenges along the way, but chances are they aren't something a woman trailblazer before you hasn't encountered. Having a mentor to call can be essential in overcoming these hurdles. When you become a successful entrepreneur -- and there are many definitions of success -- find a friend, relative, colleague or group of young girls that you can share your trials, tribulations and words of wisdom with. They will be better off because of it and this is a good way to pay it forward!
Dr. Bernice Ledbetter is Practitioner Faculty of Organizational Theory and Management at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management. Her research and teaching interests focus on leadership and values, especially gender differences, as well as on moral developmental and non-western approaches to leadership. She is a Principal in Ledbetter Consulting Group and has worked extensively as a career management consultant and team performance coach for individuals and major organizations.