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New Insight for Women Entrepreneurs

New Insight for Women EntrepreneursIf you’re a woman thinking of starting your own business, you’re not alone. According to SCORE, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping small businesses, women-owned businesses currently make up 39 percent of the 28 million small businesses in the United States. And, SCORE notes, that number is rising. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned businesses rose 45 percent—five times the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. SCORE recently released the results of a wide-ranging survey of more than 12,000 female entrepreneurs. The report, “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship,” contains several key insights on the unique opportunities and challenges these business owners face. Why did these women start their businesses? They reported many different motivations, such as open opportunities, family considerations, job changes, and financial necessity. One interesting detail is how the reasons differed for each age demographic. Most of the women surveyed under age…

How to make an effective strategic business plan

Most business owners in Maryland understand that strategic business planning is key to a company's success. However, understanding its importance and actually executing a strategic business plan are two different things. When a business plan just sits on the shelf, it becomes nothing more than a static document. Strategic business plans often fail to create change in an organization because they do not contain clear directions. To be effective, a business plan should set the trajectory for a company by outlining specific goals and articulating clear vision statements. A solid plan for how to reach the specified goals and achieve the company's vision should also be included in the strategic business plan. It is important for all of the executives to understand a strategic business plan so that they can work to achieve the goals that have been set. If the plan is too complex or vague, it could end…

Why small businesses fail in Maryland

Studies show that around 80 percent of small businesses fail within the first 18 months of operation. This is generally not due to major and obvious mistakes or lack of effort on the part of owners. Instead, things like lack of marketing, poor customer service and a bad location can be all that it takes to keep a business from doing well. No matter how great a product or service is, if people aren't aware that it or the business that offers it exists, the business will struggle and likely fail. It's important for business owners to determine what the best methods of advertising their goods and services are and to make sure that they are making potential customers aware of their existence. Customer service is another common issue for small businesses. Part of the problem is that people now expect great customer service, so if a business isn't ensuring…

Handling cash flow issues as a small business

Many small business owners struggle with cash flow issues. This can be a problem because a company might generate a good deal of business but be waiting on payment for its goods or services. In the meantime, bills come due and the business may be struggle with basic expenses regardless of the size of the future payout. Sometimes, a business owner may be able to forgo a salary for a few months until things even out. However, sometimes the cash flow problem is severe enough that this is insufficient. Obtaining a bank loan may take too much time, or the business owner might not have good enough credit to get the loan approved. The solution to cash flow problems is in part based on the source of the problem. To help avoid unpaid invoices, business owners may want to ask for a deposit up front. Customers can be encouraged to…

Small business disaster recovery plans

Small business owners in Maryland may want to consider developing a disaster recovery plan in case of an emergency. For a small company, the loss of productivity that could result from a broken server, a severed relationship with a supplier or damaged physical property could be devastating. A disaster recovery plan should be created that addresses the potential for both digital and physical losses. In most cases, much of the work that a small business does relies on technology and digital assets. The information that a company stores on one of its servers could be incredibly important to the way that the business is run. Therefore, a business owner should take vital steps to protect its servers. If preventative steps are taken, digital data recovery can be relatively simple and fast in the event that a server goes down. Even in the digital age, a small business may rely heavily…

Business planning plays crucial role in success

Maryland entrepreneurs and business leaders who want to expand may be interested in following a few tips. There are numerous ways companies can supplement their growth and ensure profitability. Many of the strategies focus on fiscal business concerns like accounting. According to business insiders, companies need to resolve to make payments easier to collect by sending invoices on time and accepting a wider range of payment types. In the same vein, businesses are advised to quantify and concentrate on the revenue streams that are more likely to generate positive income, such as repeat customers. Money management is also an important component of running a small business. Entrepreneurs are advised to routinely assess their fiscal situations and create reserve accounts so that they can survive cash flow fluctuations. Businesses need to consciously commit to their growth and manage their time. Entrepreneurs may be able to save resources by limiting their use of…

How to start a business plan

Many new business owners have trouble knowing how to write or even start writing a business plan for their new venture. Some then decide to just dive in without a plan. Business plans help owners and others to understand the direction in which the company should go. Trying to start a business without a plan may make it more likely to fail in the long run. New business owners may want to start by using a tool called a business model canvas. This tool includes suggestions on inventing, designing and strategic planning for new companies. It can thus help owners to get started by putting their main thoughts down on paper. After using the canvas, the owner should then have a better idea of areas that need to be fleshed out and should subsequently list these using bullet points or another simple format. After the main areas have been listed,…

Appropriate succession planning without violating the ADEA

Succession planning is an important part of the continued success of Maryland businesses. Planning how knowledge will be transferred when people leave the company is a vital part of such a plan, because a good plan can help minimize future costs during the transition period. The Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1967 proscribes discriminatory employment actions based on age for employees who are aged 40 or older. Businesses should thus take this act into account when they are conducting succession planning to make certain they do not run afoul of its provisions. If they violate it, they may open themselves up to litigation. Proper succession planning should never include stereotypical assumptions based on an employee's age. Companies should avoid such things as retirement as a solution to poor performance. They should also avoid planning for a position's succession when they do not know when the employee holding it plans…

Analysis methods for writing an organized business plan

Many prospective Maryland entrepreneurs take a rather haphazard approach to writing their business plans, often to their detriment. Using analysis tools can help business owners write better plans that are more likely able to provide a blueprint for the company to be successful. The three types of analysis that should be used are represented by the acronyms PEST, SWOT and 7S. PEST stands for political factors, economic factors, social factors and technological factors. To further break down the analysis for each of these categories, business owners should address the five Ws, or who, what, where, when and why, for each. PEST is a macro-level analysis examining the overall landscape in which the business will be operating. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats comprise the SWOT analysis. It is used on a micro level to analyze the specific business itself. After completing the SWOT analysis, business owners can then leverage their strengths…

Taking a company public with an IPO

Many Maryland entrepreneurs hope to grow their businesses to the point where going public becomes a realistic option. Becoming a publicly traded company has many advantages, but putting together an initial public offering can be both prohibitively expensive and very time consuming. Figures provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration reveal that relatively few companies are able to launch a successful IPO. Entrepreneurs should also understand that public companies are not able to operate with the same degree of flexibility as private enterprises. An IPO requires careful business planning and in most cases the services of an investment bank. Finding a suitable banking partner is crucial, and entrepreneurs should seek out an investment firm that has previously worked on IPOs for similar sized businesses. Investors must also be given a good reason to buy shares, and annual growth rates of less than 20 percent are unlikely to draw much interest.…