A Modern Woman’s Guide to Starting a Small Business


There has never been a better time for entrepreneurial women to create the business they’d always dreamed of. As of 2018, there are 12.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. and that number is growing. Inspiring stories of growth and success are shared every day as more women strike out on their own. If you’re considering starting your own small business, we’ve assembled a basic guide of “need-to-knows” to get you started.

Firstly, let’s check out some stats to get a feel of the current women-owned business market.

  • Women-owned businesses employ 9.2 million people.
  • Women-owned businesses generate $1.8 trillion in revenue.
  • Women of color account for 47% of all women-owned businesses in the U.S.
  • 62% of female entrepreneurs depend on their business as their primary source of income.

Care to be a part of these growing numbers? Keep reading.

Step 1: Discover your opportunity

If you already have your business model decided, great, you’re ahead of the game. If not, asking yourself “what’s a problem that needs fixing?” or “what is my city missing?” can get the ball rolling. Once you have an idea in mind, research any potential competition. If you want to open a wine and dessert bar, survey other local establishments with similar offerings and see if your idea stands out. If it does, great! If it doesn’t, keep thinking.

Considering popular industry trends can help guide your decision. A few stats to be mindful of include:

  • There was a 55%  increase in female ownership of health, beauty, and fitness businesses in 2018.
  • 14% of women-owned businesses in 2018 were food-related or restaurants, as a result of a 45% growth of share.
  • 58% of women start their business from scratch as opposed to purchasing pre-established businesses.

Step 2: Identify your market

If you can’t name your first five customers right away, your (business) isn’t a good idea, says Tina Wells, CEO of Buzz Marketing Group. Think about your business and try to envision at least five individual customers outside your immediate relationships. Think about who you’re targeting and if they’d be willing to spend their money on you. Taking it a step further, go out and source public opinions. Asking people of different backgrounds, genders, ages and other relevant characteristics if they would be interested in your business idea can provide additional insight into whether or not you’re on target.

Step 3: Focus in on your mission

Establishing your mission statement is a critical step in developing your business. The key here is to formulate something that is hyper-specific to your business goals while remaining brief enough to only require a few sentences.

Your completed missions statement should be able to answer these four questions:

  • What do we do?
  • How do we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Step 4: Research every detail

Going back to one of the earlier steps, scoping out your competition and noting any successes and shortcomings can offer valuable insight. Visit every similar business you can, and take note on details such as wait time, layout, customer behavior, prices and number of employees. Taking this information back to your drawing board can help in developing your perfect business model.

Step 5: Claim your name

This is the fun part, utilize your creativity and ingenuity to craft the perfect name to encapsulate your business. Some experts recommend sticking to two syllable names, but that’s up to your discretion. Ultimately you want a name that’s short, unique, easily searchable and makes you feel good.

Once you have  a list of your top three names in mind, check them out on USPTO.gov to check their availability. Once you decide on your top pick that’s not trademarked by anyone else, apply with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ASAP.

Additional steps to finalize your business include:

Register your business with your state and local governments. Registrations costs around $300 and can be found by Googling “(your state) SBA”.

Secure a website URL and domain name. You can check the availability of different variations using resources like Name.com. Once you’ve decided on one, it’ll cost around $15 a year to claim it as yours.

Get an Employer Identification Number. You can apply for this for free on the IRS.gov website. This allows you to open a business bank account, apply for licenses and permits, and pay taxes.

Apply for a loan. Depending on your situation you may want to explore your financial options through big banks, regional banks and local credit unions. As a woman in business, be sure to check out any small business grants your may qualify for.

Step 6: Prepare for take-off

Social media should be you best friend by the time you reach this step. The bigger of a stir you can generate about your business before opening day, the better. Creating well-populated social accounts is critical here.

Facebook: Create a Facebook page specifically for your business. This should include contact information, location, and your mission statement. Any additional relevant buttons such as “see menu”, “send message” or “book appointment” should be available as well. If possible try and also get a few pictures posted before opening day. People are more likely to explore your page if you give them something to look at.

Instagram: Unlike your personal account, Instagram offers the feature of opening a Business Profile, which enables you to gather insights about your followers and promote posts. You can also receive information about how past posts perform and which days are best to post for you. Take this information to heart, Instagram can be incredibly helpful in attracting new customers.

As useful as social media is in generating excitement about new businesses, don’t forget the power of your own personality. Networking with other female business owners in your area or those you’ve been a fan of can demonstrate the passion you have for your business, which goes a long way.


Come opening day when all your hard work has finally paid off, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re never going to feel 100% prepared and that’s ok! Accepting that you may experience hiccups is all a part of the process. Stay involved with your local small business community, find a mentor, whatever it takes to help keep you going. And when you need an extra boost, look to the words of your fellow female entrepreneurs!

“Build your business success around something that you love — something that is inherently and endlessly interesting to you.” – Martha Stewart

“Life-fulfilling work is never about the money — when you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it.”  – Eileen Fisher, fashion designer

“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” — Estée Lauder


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