Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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DW Life > First, assess whether owning a business fts with your professional, personal, and fnancial goals. afliate of the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation focused on entrepreneurial education. "Tey need to communicate clearly what it is." Cantando says coming up with a business concept can be as simple as listening to the people around you. "If someone tells you, 'You are so good at this,' you need to open your ears and hear that," she says. "Take that and then ask, Can you identify a person or organization who will pay for that? How do those two pieces of the formula come together?" Once the concept is cemented, it's time to put it into words, and that means writ54 D I VERSI TY W OMAN Fall 2013 ing a business plan. Common elements include a detailed description of the proposed company, an analysis of the market where the company will compete, fnancing options to get the business of the ground, and revenue and proft projections. Although some would argue whether a business plan is really necessary, Bruce Purdy, deputy assistant administrator for the SBA's Ofce of Women's Business Ownership, says having one can make all the diference, especially when seeking outside fnancing. "If you're looking to apply for a loan, the biggest thing the lender wants to see is your ability to pay the lender back," Purdy says. "[Te loan ofcer] will look at your projections, and that's part of your business plan." Indeed, when Donaldson went to her bank to apply for a loan, her business plan helped seal the deal. "When I needed money, I had to have my plan to take to a loan committee to vote on it," she says. "It represents how serious you are." Purdy notes that a business plan is ever evolving, much like the business itself. "Te business plan is predominantly used as a guide for the business, and it's not static. You don't frame it and emblaze it in gold," he says. "It should be a living, breathing document, and you really need to make sure that you're changing your plan going forward." Figuring out how to fnance your company is also essential to getting it started. Initial costs can include anything from inventory to insurance to licensing and permitting fees, as well as legal fees. All of this can add up fast, and Markey says new entrepreneurs often underestimate how much money they will need. Not only that, but women in particular tend to ask for too little when seeking outside fnancing, in part because many are uncomfortable with the idea of using someone else's money. "Women feel like they are asking for money for themselves instead of for their business," Markey says. d i v e r s i t y wom an. com THINKSTOCKPHOTOS First and foremost is to assess whether owning a business is the right ft for you in terms of your professional, personal, and fnancial goals. Tat initial level of soul-searching is necessary before anything else can fall into place, says Mary Cantando, a North Carolina–based business consultant and founder of Te Woman's Advantage. "I think you've got to ask yourself, 'What am I willing to risk?'" she says. "You have an idea, you think it's going to be great, and then what if the whole thing fell apart? What's the worst case scenario and are you willing to lose your house over it? Tat's how hard it has to be." Equally important is coming up with a concrete business concept. While that might seem like an obvious step, Michele Markey, vice president of Kaufman FastTrac in Kansas City, Missouri, says that women often come to her without being able to adequately explain what they're setting out to do. "When we talk to some people, they can't quantify it well—they go on and on," says Markey, who oversees all the programming at Kaufman FastTrac, an

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