Editor's note: Women small business face unique challenges in today's business world. Dana Victoria Sophia does a fantastic job of helping women to succeed in today's market environment.
Starting a successful small business is no easy task. With so many small businesses opening every month and a large percentage of them closing before their second year in business, it is sometimes best to seek the advice of a business consultant before the start of your business.
With that said, it is still a great time to open a woman-owned business. The amount of research you do before you start your business will determine how many small business pitfalls you avoid.
The following 5 common women-owned small business pitfalls are presented along with their solutions:
Problem: Marketing is often confused with advertising. Your market is who you are trying to target with your advertising; direct mail, commercials, signs, etc. Many do not realize that if you don't find your niche and your target market is too broad, you will waste your advertising budget.
Solution: Focus and narrow your target market to a niche you will be comfortable with and then advertise directly to them.
2. Time Management
Problem: Many women who become self-employed do not realize that until they hire staff, they will have to wear many hats-Assistant, Messenger, Executive, etc. Along with family responsibilities, these additional roles can be very demanding.
Solution: Outsource time-consuming tasks to other individuals-that way you can focus on growing your business while someone else works on the time- consuming tasks. This will also provide an opportunity for you to still have enough time to balance family life and work.
Problem: Quoting fees too low for fear of losing a potential client or not calling for payment when a client's invoice is overdue.
Solution: Talk to other women in your field and also find out what competitors in your area are charging. If you feel uncomfortable contacting a competitor, ask someone else do it. The same goes for collections. No small business owner can go without collecting their fees, so if you fear making the calls have someone make them for you or send letters gently requesting payment.
Problem: Not Networking, Not Networking Efficiently.
Solution: Every small business owner needs to network and broadly. Each person you meet is a possible referral or potential client. Join the business organization for your field and a women's organization. Stay focused while you are at the networking event and be determined to achieve pre-determined goals, which were your reason for attending the event. For example: As a florist, not only do you have to network at floral design trade shows but make it a point to attend a wedding or event planning expo as well as your local chamber of commerce and women in business organization.
Problem: The inability to turn down potential clients who require services that you do not offer because you are afraid to say no since you need the money.
Solution: As a self-employed individual, you have the ability to choose your work assignments but taking any assignment that comes around does not give you the opportunity to focus on what you like to do. Stick to projects that incorporate the services you offer. Let the other assignments go. This will allow you the time to work on fulfilling projects.
Dana Victoria Sophia, is a New York SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) Consultant to Women-Owned businesses. Through articles, seminars and workshops Dana educates women business owners (and women dreaming to become self-employed) on running a successful small business. Her self-employment e-Book series, "Small Business Syndicate" was published in August 2001.