Remember the glass ceiling? Back in the 1980’s this term was coined to describe the experiences of women as they tried to progress up the corporate ladder and gain access to the boardroom. Women have come a long way since those days, and now hold leadership and executive positions across all industries.
With so many women moving into business leadership and management, it’s not surprising that there are more resources available today to help teach women how to start and manage their own companies than ever before.
Starting a business was once a difficult proposition which involved raising thousands or even millions of dollars. It was a high risk process and few individuals had the resources or the time to pursue such a venture.
Nowadays with inexpensive access to the internet, and a wealth of opportunity for independent contractors in the professional service industry, more and more women are deciding to take the plunge and become self employed or start their own companies.
But while a great idea and a computer may be all you need to get started, you will need a lot more information once you get the ball rolling.
Legal issues such as how you choose to structure and name your business come up almost immediately. Later when you start earning money you have to worry about taxes and bookkeeping.
And then if your venture really takes off, there are issues with hiring employees, maintaining inventory, insurance questions, and many other complications. So what’s a budding entrepreneur to do?
Fortunately there are resources available to help you navigate these tricky topics and find your way to the land of success and prosperity. Let’s start with some of the major organizations and work our way down to the local scene.
The Service Corps of Retired Executives is a national organization which provides counseling and advice to new business owners. A partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE counselors can help you navigate the funding resources and other options available to newer companies through the SBA. SCORE has a website specifically for women entrepreneurs.
The Center for Women and Enterprise was founded in 1995 and is headquartered in Boston with an additional chapter in Rhode Island. CWE offers a combination of education and networking to entrepreneurial women in the North East to help connect them with mentors and funding as they seek to launch their ventures.
Women in Technology International provides support, training and networking to women across the globe. WITI was founded on the premise of actively networking and supporting other women specifically in the technology industry, but this active community includes individuals and organizations which span all industries.
WITI holds leadership conferences, and networking events, as well as helping to connect up and coming entrepreneurs with industry leaders to help mentor and guide new leaders towards success.
The National Association of Women Business Owners was founded in 1975 and provides advocacy on behalf of women owned businesses in the United States.
This unique resource allows women to create profiles and connect to other business women through a virtual community of entrepreneurs. Offering support and networking, this online resource can help you find support and coaching resources to get you through the challenges of business management.
While these larger organizations can be a wealth of information, sometimes their size and scope can be daunting. Membership may give you access to resources and tools, but don’t limit yourself to national organizations as your only source of information.
Many cities have local chapters or separate networking groups which work within their specific region. Go online and search for networking groups in your area or consult the larger organizations to find local groups.
In addition to seeking out networking organizations, many women turn to business coaching to help them get organized. Business coaching can provide the intangible support you need to help you define your company vision, get over challenges in the early stages, and find a balance between your work and life.
Gone (thank goodness) are the days where women got the coffee and sandwiches while men made the big business decisions. If you are thinking of making the jump to owning your own business, make sure you seek out the resources you need to succeed, and good luck!