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Tips for Women Entrepreneurs Starting and Growing a Small Business

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Expert: Erin Andrew
Tips for Women Entrepreneurs Starting and Growing a Small Business

Erin Andrew

Director of Innovation Clusters and Skills Initiatives, SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development

Thursday, October 4, 2012 7:00 PM

Erin Andrew is the Director of Innovation Clusters and Skills Initiatives in the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration where she supports the office in meeting the counseling and training needs of America’s small businesses. 


She also focuses on entrepreneurship skills initiatives for the 50+ and youth populations, regional innovation clusters and entrepreneurship training for America’s transitioning military service members.


Prior to her work at the SBA, Andrew was a senior policy analyst at the National Governors Association focusing on workforce and economic development issues. She has held positions at different levels of government including working in the Governor of Iowa’s Office as a policy advisor on economic development, workforce development and military issues. 


Andrew holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Ethics, and an M.S. in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.  She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).
 

Are you a woman who is ready to start or expand your small business? Now is a good time to take that first step. In recognition of National Women’s Small Business Month, SBA will host a web chat series the month of October. Each week this month, the web chat series will feature an expert that will give advice to women on how to put together business plans, navigate the difficulties of entering competitive markets, and establish the foundation for a successful, profitable enterprise.

Ms. Andrew will answer questions and share information about business assistance for aspiring and established business owners, including details about new SBA initiatives. Come prepared to ask your pertinent questions and join us for an exchange on connecting with SBA resource partners in your community.

Note: There is not an audio format for the online chat, and no broadcast capability. SBA moderators retain editorial control over the online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for chat participants and hosts.

Chat Transcript

 

From:
Jaclyn Carnazza
Location:
Nutley, New Jersey
 

Happy Women’s Small Business Month and welcome to SBA’s first web chat of a series this month focused on Starting and Growing Your Business. Today I look forward to answering your questions and sharing SBA’s resources that should be helpful to you in starting and growing your business.

 
From:
Jaclyn Carnazza
Location:
Nutley, New Jersey
 
Question:
I am just about to open a preschool, which has depleted my entire savings and money borrowed from my parents. I am looking for a business line of credit, and the banks are not approving since my business is a startup. They are pushing a biz credit card, but I have extremely better perks to opening a personal credit card (i.e. 0%APR for 18 months vs. 0%APR for 6 months). My credit score is 777, but I have no collateral. I am the sole owner of my business. What is an individual in my position to do when the bills are coming in, yet there is no income until I open!
Reply:
Choosing a credit card is a difficult process. SBA has an article with some pointers on this topic: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/six-factors-consider-when-choosing-credit-card-Also check out our loan guarantee programs at http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants
 
From:
Ty
Location:
Charleston, SC
 
Question:
Hi, I'm working on starting my own gourmet line of baked goods. I would like to begin with selling dry mixes of a variety of flavors, due to the cost of cooking and having a DHEC approved kitchen. I would like to pitch my gourmet line to some of the schools as a fundraiser catalogue. The students and school earns rewards based on the amount of goods sold. This would allow me the opportunity to purchase the goods with the funds received (after the school receives their profit). I have only the funds from my job to work with, no collatoral for a loan, and my credit isn't great. So do you think this is the best way, or at least a good way for me to market my gourmet line with little (paycheck to paycheck) funding. My goal is to have my products in major grocery chains, gourmet shops, coffee shops, restaurants etc.
Reply:
If your goal is to be a supplier to a large company, large companies will look for businesses that have a successful financial record. If you are still in the bootstrapping phase you should review and SBA article that provides advice on building business credit: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/building-business-credit-top-10-reasons-start-2012 You should also visit an SBA resource partner – find one in your local area by visiting www.sba.gov/direct and entering your zip code.
 
From:
Lorraine
Location:
Chicago, Illinois
 
Question:
I have a small start-up business. I am interested in obtaining grant information and certification as a minority/female owned business. The information that I have found is confusing and conflicting.
Reply:
SBA does not provide grants for starting and expanding a business even if you are a woman or a minority. We do however offer government contracting programs like the 8a program (www.sba.gov/8a) and the Women Owned Small Business Program (www.sba.gov/wosb)
 
From:
Shawanna Arkwright
Location:
Savannah, Georgia
 
Question:
I want to start a boutique and after school program but really don’t understand what type of license or permit is needed.
Reply:
SBA has a licensing and permitting tool – you just need to enter your zip and industry to find out about the license or permit required. The website is: http://www.sba.gov/content/search-business-licenses-and-permits
 
From:
Joyce Kimberling
Location:
Albuquerque, NM
 
Question:
I am interested in finding out about what programs the SBA offers. What your credit scores need to be, my required investment, etc.
Reply:
Step 1: an overview of our loan guarantee programs are available at http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants Step 2: Review this information and identify some opportunities that might be worthwhile for you Step 3: Set up an appointment with an SBA business counselor. You can go to www.sba.gov/direct for contact information of counselors in your area.
 
From:
Brenna
Location:
Cary, NC
 
Question:
I lost my job in June 2010. In July 2010, I started a home-based pet sitting business. Within a year, with hard work, I was able to support my family as a single mom on this income. Unfortunately, Wells Fargo foreclosed on my home before I was able to get back on my feet. As a result, I had to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. I am now working harder but doing well, and actually am better off financially than I have ever been working for someone else. I am currently leasing to purchase a home, on a 2 1/2 year contract which ends October 2014. Will this be enough time for me to build my credit and be considered for financing this home-based business? If so, where might my best options be? Side note: How could the SBA support and assist me to this end? Thank you!
Reply:
The most important thing to do is to rebuild your credit. Here is an article that can help get you started: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/what-best-way-build-credit-my-business Also you should definitely visit and SBA counselor for advice – find one in your local community by visiting www.sba.gov/direct.
 
From:
Chanae Houska
Location:
Elsie, Michigan
 
Question:
HI, I am just starting out. I want to start a small consignment shop in my town. I don't really know where to start. I guess I am asking for any advice you can give me.
Reply:
First, visit our website and take one of our online training courses on starting and marketing your business: www.sba.gov/training. They are roughly 30 minutes each and will give you a great overview on getting starting. Then make an appointment with one of SBA’s business counselors. Find one in your area by visiting www.sba.gov/direct and entering your zip code.
 
From:
Cynthia Davis
Location:
,
 
Question:
How can I finance my Home Health Agency Business. Will I qualify for a Grant or Loan, will I need collateral?
Reply:
SBA has loan programs to help you start and grow and business. Check out http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants
 
From:
Tammie Bracamonte
Location:
Rocklin, CA
 
Question:
Which is more likely to swaye a banks decision for a loan? Credit score or how well your business plan is put together?
Reply:
Lending institutions assess your application based on the type of funding you are seeking and what assets you can provide for collateral. This link provides important information about the factors that lenders take into consideration when reviewing loan applications: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/application-process/credit-factors Regarding your question, your credit score and a business plan are equally important. The small business credit score is going to speak to your capacity to repay and your documented history of doing that. And depending on the loan size. For loans under $350,000 the credit score is going play a bigger factor. For loans in excess of $350,000, your credit score is still a significant factor because it shows your documented history of repaying debt, but the business plan is very important too.
 
From:
Dee
Location:
Sacramento, CA - California
 
Question:
How do I start a small business with very little capital? Where do I start from?
Reply:
SBA has free face-to-face counseling with over 14,000 counselors across the country. Please visit one of our business counselors – find one in your area by going to www.sba.gov/direct. Another resource that is helpful if you are getting started with limited capital is: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/dealing-with-cash-constraints-tighten-your-belt
 
From:
Dee
Location:
Sacramento, CA - California
 
Question:
What should one look for when choosing a location? And what things to consider when choosing a location
Reply:
Choosing a business location is one of the most important decisions you will make and you should invest the time in researching your options. Some pointers that could be helpful are located at: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/how-choose-best-location-your-business
 
From:
Carol Macklin
Location:
Detroit, MI
 
Question:
I have two questions 1. How can I formulate a business plan with low start up cost? I am looking at a revenue of $500.00. 2. Can you tell me how can I get started with this amount? Thanks.
Reply:
Starting a business with very little money is difficult. A smaller loan option can be a good opportunity. If you have already researched business credit cards, I would also look into SBA’s microloan program. You can read more about it here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/could-you-finance-your-start-with-microloan
 
From:
Sandra Polk
Location:
Madison, AL
 
Question:
I would like to know how to get government contract for my business.
Reply:
Visit our government contracting website: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting. Also tune in for the web chat on government contracting on Tuesday, October 16th at 3:00pm EDT.
 
From:
Teresa Lawhead
Location:
Dade City, Florida
 
Question:
What are the first steps in identifying funding for a new small business?
Reply:
It depends on the loan size and what you are seeking. If you are looking for a line of credit for working capital purposes, depending on the dollar size, a business credit card can be a good tool. http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/six-factors-consider-when-choosing-credit-card-. If you are a relatively new business and you have substantial equity in your home, a home line of credit could be a good resource to get started or to scale. If you have been in business for more than a couple of years and you have accounts receivable and you are generating revenue, a community bank is a good idea – especially if you have collateral. They can offer you a conventional loan or an SBA loan.
 
From:
Seals
Location:
,
 
Question:
Is it true true that woman can gets grants and other perks for owning a business? What are the perks of being a female business owner; especially a minority business owner?
Reply:
SBA does not provide grants for starting and expanding a business even if you are a woman or a minority. We do however offer government contracting programs like the 8a program (www.sba.gov/8a) and the Women Owned Small Business Program (www.sba.gov/wosb).
 
From:
ANNIE
Location:
,
 
Question:
I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW DO I DECIDE ON LOCATION? I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO KNOW HOW DO I START A BUSINESS PLAN?
Reply:
Some information on selection a location for your business are located here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/how-choose-best-location-your-business And if you are getting ready to write a business plan you should take our online course on writing a business plan: http://www.sba.gov/content/starting-business#. It is a great place to start.
 
From:
Kathy Smith
Location:
Owings Mills, Maryland
 
Question:
I would like to start a business obviously, I need to know what to do in order to get started. I will be opening a store, a special kind of store. What do I need to do first.
Reply:
I would first visit www.sba.gov/training and take one of our online training courses on writing a business, marketing your business and other topics. Then visit an SBA business counselor - find one near you at www.sba.gov/direct.
 
From:
Rita Winkler
Location:
Greenport, NY
 
Question:
I opened 2 retail stores this year and needed put up $50,000 in cash collateral in order to get a small business loan to start my business. Business has been doing very well What are my options to obtain 'refinance' this small business loan in order to gain access to the cash collateral money that I currently do not have access to?
Reply:
Did you take out a loan to open up the 2 retail outlets? Usually you have to put down around 20% equity. If you took out a $250,000 loan and the equity was $50,000. The lender is most likely going to still want you to have skin in the game. The likelihood of accessing this cash is going to be low. However, if you are locked in at a fixed rate at around 6%, 7% or 9%, you may be able to refinance at a lower rate for an SBA loan, which will free up some of the money you were using for your prior debt. And that cash you can use.
 
From:
Rachael Berry
Location:
Lexington, KY
 
Question:
Can your company be both a LLC and S Corp?
Reply:
Rachael, Thanks for the question. You can choose to classify your company as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a Subchapter S Corporation (S-Corps), or both. However, you will want to consider issues like operational ease, administrative requirements, profit-sharing, and employment tax implications when making your decision. SBA has more information on the distinctions at http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-law-advisor/should-my-company-be-llc-s-corp-or-both
 
From:
Liana
Location:
Chicago, IL
 
Question:
Hi Erin, thank you & SBA for hosting this session. If I'm concerned about trademark, copyright or other intellectual property issues (as a potential
Reply:
Great question, Liana. As I’m sure you know, protecting your idea, product, or invention is a critical issue facing many small business owners who don’t often have the resources of larger companies. Although the requirements for patents, trademarks, and copyrights vary, the following SBA link is a central location that explains each in greater detail: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/protect-your-invention-or-product-patents-t-0
 
From:
Tammy
Location:
Seattle, Wa
 
Question:
What are the top 3 industries women entrepreneurs are thriving in or are wanting to start a business in?
Reply:
Women-owned businesses make up more than half (52.0%) of all businesses in health care and social assistance. The other top industries for women include: educational services (45.9% of all businesses are women-owned), administration and support and waste management and remediation services (37.0%), retail trade (34.4%), and arts, entertainment, and recreation (30.4%). Industries with the lowest percent of women-owned businesses include mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (15.0%), transportation and warehousing (11.4%), agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (10.3%), construction (7.9%), and management of companies and enterprises (6.7%). Overall I can tell you that over the past 20 to 30 years, the percentage of businesses owned by women has risen from about 5% to approximately 30% today. SBA has worked incredibly hard to provide women the opportunities and resources to start their own businesses, including the 100 Women’s Business Development Centers we have across the country. It’s because of our commitment to women business owners that I love taking part in conversations like this!
 
From:
Jayne Bement-Miller
Location:
Moorhead, MN
 
Question:
I am woman, minority entrepreneur. I have been unemployed for just under a year, 9I had a job for 6 months in between that did not fit) I am looking for guidance on how to move forward with a plan to build upon my experience. I do not have investment money available to me.
Reply:
Jayne, it sounds like the first step for you is to assess your situation and formulate a plan. The Minority Business Development Agency is a great resource that can help you formulate your business plan and analyze your financial situation. They are located at the following link: http://www.mbda.gov/
 
From:
Emily
Location:
Sioux Falls, SD
 
Question:
How to communicate to our network the type of talent we are looking to hire in our small business? How many hours a day is typical for a small business owner, male or female? How do I determine what qualities I am lacking as a business person to then hire people who compliment me?
Reply:
Emily, recruiting and managing your team can be one of the most demanding and costly aspects of owning a small business. Though working with a business counselor is a good way to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, you’ll need to navigate job postings, interview follow-up’s, and onboarding of new employees in order to get the right team in place. SBA has a number of resources available to help you through this process. Here’s a blog that explains things in greater detail: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/ultimate-guide-hiring-managing-and-nurturing-
 
From:
Dion
Location:
,
 
Question:
Are business cards
Reply:
Business cards are still important, but it honestly depends on your clients and who you are interactning with as you try to get new clients. Understanding you clients is the most important thing so if that means interacting with them via social media without using business cards - go for it. If you are networking face to face, I would recommend using business cards or something you can leave behind with your contact information. Regardless, following up with a client after meeting them online or in person will win you big points.
 
From:
Darlene
Location:
Pine Bush, NY
 
Question:
Are ther any financial grants for disabled individuals who want to expand my business, and need financial assistance?
Reply:
Hi Darlene, check out this page on SBA.gov which lists resources available for disabled individuals looking to start a business: http://www.sba.gov/content/people-with-disabilities
 
From:
April
Location:
Atlanta, GA
 
Question:
I am looking to start my own consulting and event management firm in the 1st quarter of 2013. My initial thought is that there would be very limited overhead to start up the business, since I will be a one-woman show for a period of time. Outside of my business registration costs, website launch, and professional photos, and minimal office supplies, I don't foresee a whole lot of start up costs. However, I don't want to understimate my financial needs starting up my business. Do you have have best practices or approaches you could share with me when determining your start up needs?
Reply:
I would find a mentor in this industry who has done this in the past and would have some experience they can share with you. We've found that talking with folks about what they did or didn't do right in the past can really help a new business owner as they get started. I would definitely check out our online resources for start-ups. Go to www.sba.gov/training and there will be a list of resources you can review to get started. Then make an appointment
 
From:
Donna Joseph
Location:
New York, NY
 
Question:
I'm a budding personal chef. I have a food blog I maintain, I post to Face Book, Twitter, and do an occasional email blast to promote business. I also give away baked goods to events and neighborhood grocery stores. Do you have other ideas for marketing my business?
Reply:
Marketing any type of business takes time, money, and lots of preparation. One of the best ways to prepare yourself is to develop a solid marketing plan. You can find tips on creating your marketing plan at http://www.sba.gov/content/developing-marketing-plan
 
From:
Jore McKinney
Location:
Detroit, Michigan
 
Question:
Is there particular start up grants for a for profit business? Where do I them? Will credit affect my being are to start a business?
Reply:
Hi-SBA does not provide grants for starting and expanding a business. However, we do offer microloans for startups, here is more information: http://www.sba.gov/content/microloan-program. If you are seeking a loan, lenders do consider your credit. Here is more informaiton: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/how-prepare-your-loan-application/cr
 
From:
Kira Jones
Location:
Upper Marlboro, Maryland
 
Question:
I am trying to start two business. First, I would like to start an online magazine. Second, I would like to start my own event planning and graphic design business. Can you give me any advice on how I can go about starting one or maybe both of these? Thanks in advance.
Reply:
I would start small and build from there. Focus on starting one business at first. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of taking on too much at first and quickly lose focus. Focus on the business you are the most passionate about and you think has the most opportunity to grow. Once you get that started and it is sustainable, then explore a second business.
 
From:
Patrice
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
 
Question:
What would you advise a young, minority woman that is trying to pursue opening her own business that is unable to get a loan? I have a business plan, business tax ID, business bank account, and I have attended several seminars, and classes on small businesses. Unfortunately, my credit is just okay, but not good enough.
Reply:
Hi, I would reach out to a business mentor. SBA offers free business mentors through our resource parnters like SCORE, Small Business Development Centers and Women's Business Centers. Find one near you by entering your zip code here: http://www.sba.gov/sba-direct
 
From:
Graciela Cargni
Location:
Portland, Oregon
 
Question:
I have an idea for a small business, but no idea how to get started, or how I should obtain a loan. What is step 1, 2, 3, etc....
Reply:
Great question! Here are 10 steps to starting a business at SBA.gov: http://www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-10-steps-starting-business
 
From:
Lorna
Location:
, MA
 
Question:
How can I find out if there are government contract grants available to me for the specific business I am thinking of starting? Where can I obtain help writing a good business plan that is presentable to banks?
Reply:
Information on government contracting is available here: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting. And if you are getting ready to write a business plan you should take our online course on writing a business plan: http://www.sba.gov/content/starting-business#. It is a great place to start.
 
From:
Lakiya Harley
Location:
Waldorf, Maryland
 
Question:
I have a desire to open a resturant and/or start a food truck and I just don't know where to begin. I feel as if I should take some small business courses before I begin. I also would love to get a mentor to help me make some better choices what do you recommend
Reply:
Many entreprenuers start out wondering where to begin. There is a lot of information out there and it can be difficult to just jump in and get started. I definitely recommend taking some courses. You can start out by taking our online training courses at www.sba.gov/training. Once you figure out the areas that you need help with, you can take an in person training course with one of SBA's resource partners. Find a local partner at www.sba.gov/direct.
 
From:
Debora Thomas
Location:
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
 
Question:
My husband & I are wanting to start our own business but not sure where to start. We also want to know if it would be more beneficial for me to own more than 50% percent of the business and what incentives there are for women owned businessess?
Reply:
Hi, here are 10 steps to starting any business:http://www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-10-steps-starting-business. The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program authorizes contracting officers to set aside certain federal contracts for women owned business. Here is more information: http://www.sba.gov/content/contracting-opportunities-women-owned-small-businesses
 
From:
Katty
Location:
Katy, Tx
 
Question:
Hi, I am in the planning stages of opening a resale shop. Are there any specific low interest loans or microloans for minority women. Also Im on the fence about become For-Profit or partnering up and becoming a Not-For Profit any thoughts?
Reply:
I would recommend looking at some of SBA's microloan intermediaries and try to find one in your local community. The list is available here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/could-you-finance-your-start-with-microloan
 
From:
Candida Savice
Location:
Orange Park, Florida
 
Question:
I am starting an oline business, and would like to know if I have to register my business in every state or when I get clients from a particular state. The business will be registered in Delaware.
Reply:
This is a great question. To get started, here is what you need to know when starting and managing an online business: http://www.sba.gov/content/starting-online-business
 
From:
Jore McKinney
Location:
Detroit, Michigan
 
Question:
When writing a business plan, how can one get accurate projections? How can I find the right people (i.e. lawyer, accountant, etc.) for the field that I am going in? Is there some untapped resource for finding that kind of help online? People that specialize in your particular field?
Reply:
Hi-SBA has resource partners like SCORE, Small Business Development Centers and Women's Business Centers that offer free business plan counseling. Find an SBA partner near you by entering your zip code at http://www.sba.gov/sba-direct.
 
From:
Tiffany Ruffin
Location:
Mandeville, La
 
Question:
What is the proper way of starting a home based business selling Authentic purses and accessories shoes,clothing for a 1st time business owner that's a women.
Reply:
Hi Tiffany- Here is what you need to know when starting a home based business of any kind: http://www.sba.gov/content/home-based-business
 
From:
Jaclyn Carnazza
Location:
Nutley, New Jersey
 

Thank you for participating in today's web chat. Please remember that SBA has many resources that can help you start and grow your business. If there is one thing you leave today with, it is please make sure you use these resources. And then more importantly, set up an appointment with an SBA business counselor. Find a local counselor at www.sba.gov/direct.

SBA supported counseling and training makes a difference: Those who receive counseling and training are more likely to start a business, their businesses are more likely to survive over the ensuing years, and they are better prepared to seek financing and to plan effectively for future business growth.

Thanks again everyone. I had a great time answering questions and go women-owned small busineses!