Whether fostered by the passion of an idea, a need to be of service; a desire to create a new product; in search of more life balance; or a hunger for personal freedom, the number of women entrepreneurs is growing by leaps and bounds.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2007, researched and produced by Babson College, reports that “women are creating and running businesses around the world, contributing to economies that represent more than 70% of the world’s population and 93% of global Gross Development Product (GDP).” Additionally, it is noted that “women’s entrepreneurship is a key contributor to economic growth in low and middle income countries, particularly in the Caribbean and Latin America.”

With low per capita incomes prevailing in the Caribbean region, it was found that the motivation driving women to become entrepreneurs was prompted more by necessity, rather than merely capitalizing on an opportunity.
Not surprising, the researchers found that significant and systematic gender gaps persist impacting the creation of new ventures and overall business ownership among women. Access to capital and mentors, limited knowledge, and inefficiencies in organizational capacity were cited as major hindrances when it comes to entrepreneurship among women. Business trade associations focused on the needs of female entrepreneurs, collaborative partnerships, and informational resource centers are sprouting up in an attempt to fill this gap. Even with this, more focus on women entrepreneurs is needed.

Overcoming limitations of few available role models, adequate entrepreneurial training, business coaching, and critical financing, women are poised to dominate the entrepreneurial landscape, and increasingly the marketing minds of corporations worldwide. Observing the trends and upon researching the mushrooming buying power of women, even in developing countries, companies are trying to “learn the language of women business owners,” and quite commonly, are looking for ways to “feminize” their products, services and advertising campaigns.

On the other hand, who better to serve the female customer, another female? So, if you are wondering whether or not you are an entrepreneur “type” and if you should start a small business, start with these tips to get off to a good start.
1) Select a business that you love and know something about. Being passionate about your business will help you make it during the challenges that all entrepreneurs face.
2) Research the product or service. Go talk to people who are in the business you are going into. If you feel uncomfortable asking questions as a potential competitor, then visit as a mystery shopper to obtain the information you need. You can also do research at the library, or on the internet. Look in the business section of the newspaper or in trade publications for ideas.
3) Assess the market. Is there a need for your product/service? What type of customer base do you need to stay in business? Will you begin as a home-based business or will you have a storefront. Remember location of your business is critical and you also want to consider what will make your enterprise unique from everyone else.
4) Consult with professionals. Find individuals who know something specific about your business, specialize in small businesses, or deal with women-owned businesses. Also talk to accountants, attorneys, insurance consultants, and bankers about your future.
5) Define the legal entity. Will your business be a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation? Once you research the differences in liability, legal, tax, and financing, get your organizational structure in place.
6) Protect yourself and your business. Different forms of insurance are necessary depending on the business. Consult professionals.
7) Assess your finances. It’s a good idea to have some money put aside that will carry you through the beginning phases. You can often borrow from friends/family or get loans to get started. Often, women entrepreneurs maintain a job while growing their businesses.
8) Write a business plan. This includes a description of the business, financial projections, clearly defines the product or service, and discusses the legal entity, market, location, competition, management and personnel. There are many “How to write a business plan” guides out there for you to use.
9) Network. Join professional organizations, attend industry related conferences and meetings, and go to other meetings that are of interest to you. You will be surprised where you meet clients!
10) Be positive, patient, and flexible. It takes a good amount of time to build a business. Continue to have a positive outlook and don’t stop believing in yourself. There has never been a successful business owner that hasn’t run into some challenges! Consider getting a leadership and business thought coach. A coach is someone with whom you work on an on-going basis whose sole purpose is to support you in doing and being your best. As an entrepreneur, a coach will guide you as you set up a strategic business plan, align your business goals with your personal values, and eliminate distractions. So find someone that you think could be your coach, and ask them to help you out!

For a woman simply curious about how to start a business, or how to turn a hobby or area of expertise into a budding enterprise, you will definitely want to tap into the information provide by WE, or groups like You Can Women In Business International.
SheBiz is increasing, and entrepreneurship offers women the potential to create niche markets, contribute to economic development wherever they live, while building personal wealth and self-sufficiency. While you do not necessarily have to give up your day job to explore your entrepreneurial passions, you do owe it to yourself to honor your innermost dreams.