A business guide for Black women: looking to start your own business? Here is a must-have list of people to contact for money, technical assistance and sisterly advice.
ANYONE WHO'S EVER TRIED IT KNOWS THAT starting a business is no easy task. It requires an enormous amount of dedication, discipline and due diligence--not to mention money, time and energy. What keeps the successful going is the knowledge that the payoff can be enormous.
Unfortunately, too many women have their efforts thwarted by inexperience, poor planning and/or a lack of financing. Here is a list of essentials that will help you from becoming one of those casualties. This resource list includes books, organizations, financial institutions and technology vehicles, all geared to advancing the entrepreneurial empowerment of women.
Top Entrepreneurial Organizations
These organizations will help you gain knowledge, increase your collective buying power and strengthen your relationships with other businesswomen. They offer an array of services from entrepreneurial workshops to loans by mail, and can provide you and your company with a number of cost-saving benefits.
National Association of Black Women Entrepreneurs Inc., P.O. Box 1375, Detroit, MI 48231; 810-356-3686; fax: 810-354-3793
National conference, Oct. 18-20
National Association of Women Business Owners, 1100 Wayne Ave., Suite 830, Silver Spring, MD 20910; 301-608-2590; fax: 301-608-2590
Lobbying group in Washington
Discounts on NAWBO-sponsored services such as Federal Express
50 U.S. chapters and 33 international association affiliates
National Association for Female Executives, 30 Irving Pl., 5th Fl., New York, NY 10003; 212-477-2200
Group medical insurance coverage
Discounted hotel and long-distance telephone services
Loans by mail
Subscription to Executive Female
Access to NAFE Business Basics Program 200 local chapter affiliates
American Woman's Economic Development Corp., 71 Vanderbilt Ave., Suite 320, New York, NY 10169; 212-692-9100
Seminars held in New York and Los Angeles chapters
Women's Business Development Center, 8 S. Michigan, Suite 400, Chicago, IL 60603; 312-853-3477; fax: 312-853-0145
10th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman's Conference, Sept. 12
Business and Professional Women/USA, BPW/USA Membership Activation Dept., 2012 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-293-1100; fax: 202-861-0298
Information exchange via e-mail
Educational loans and scholarships
Career assessment workshops
Launch plans for loan fund
Association of Black Women Entrepreneurs, Box 49368, Los Angeles, CA 90049; 213-624-8639
Bimonthly networking meetings and seminars
Once-a-year private consultation with an industry expert
National Council of Negro Women Inc., 633 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004; 202-737-0120; fax: 202-737-0476
Newly launched Economic Development/Entrepreneurial Program Center
Individual business skills assessment
Technical assistance for start-ups
Galloway Braintrust Group, 1005 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314; 703-683-5588
Stringent membership requirements--limited to women who live and/or conduct business in the Washington metropolitan area. Female entrepreneurs must have been in business for five years and have a minimum of $200,000 in company revenues
Benefits include mentorship, research, lobbying and the opportunity for business promotion
Seminars open to nonmembers
WHAT'S THE URL?
Enterprising Sites Online
Looking for a fast and easy way to access business information? Go online. By subscribing to any Internet service provider (i.e., America Online, Prodigy, etc.), you can dial up the World Wide Web and dive into cyberspace. But first, take a look at the offerings of your own commercial provider. For example, America Online offers Your Business, which lists valuable resources and offers financial advice.
To start you Web hunting, here are a few must hits:
Entreprenet (http://www.enterprise.org). A small business guide library covering product pricing, the arithmetics of a deal, a venture capital resource center and Q&As with industry experts. The guide is produced by Enterprise Corp. of Pittsburgh, a nonprofit management and consulting organization.
Franchise Handbook On Line (http://www.franchise1.com). Listings of industry trade show events, article excerpts and news bytes are just a few of the items in this comprehensive directory. Check out the evaluation checklist for franchise offerings.
The Small Business Resource Center (http://www.webcom.com/seaquest/sbrc/welcome.html). A comprehensive overview on choosing, starting and running a small business. Covers the developmental stages of a start-up--from writing a business plan to acquiring capital.
WASBEC (http://www.wasbec.uca.edu/). You don't have to be a member of the World Association of Small Business Electronic Commerce to access this small business resource guide. A calendar of events lists seminars and symposiums around the country; valuable information on Small Business Administration links is provided.
American Business Information (http://www.abii.com/). A database containing sales leads and mailing lists of more than a whopping 10 million companies. Low fee-based offerings include company profiles.
FinanceHub.Com (http://www.financehub.com). A comprehensive directory of topics related to venture capital, including banks, commerce and law. It also provides a compilation of venture capital firms and organizations. You can even list your business in the company showcase.
SCOR-NET (http//www.scor-net.com). Learn about the process of registering your company for a DPO (direct public offering). This service provider lists attorneys and funding firms, and covers traditional IPOS as well as deals through its virtual market space.
READING IS FUNDAMENTAL
Books For Business Success
The value of reading about business is high, whether you plan to start a company or you've owned and operated one for years. Whatever the case, the old adage that "knowledge is power" reigns supreme. And book knowledge, specifically, never hurts.
The Women's Information Ex-change National Directory, Avon Books; $14.95
101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women: Everything You Need to Know About Getting Started on the Road to Success by Priscilla Y. Huff, Prima Publishing; $12.95
Starting On A Shoestring: Building a Business Without a Bankroll by Arnold S. Goldstein, John Wiley & Sons; $16.95
The Complete Book of Business Plans: Simple Steps to Writing a Powerful Business Plan by Joseph A. Covello & Brian J. Hazelgren, Source Books; $19.95
Venture Capital Handbook, Prentice Hall; $26.95
Entrepreneurs Are Made Not Born: Secrets From 200 Successful Entrepreneurs by Lloyd E. Shefsky, McGraw Hill; $12.95
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!
Sister, Can You Spare A Dime?
Of all the hurdles, securing financing is, by far, the most difficult for any entrepreneur--male or female. Your business idea may be fantastic but without a bankroll it will remain just that--an idea. Unfortunately, many women business owners, with little or no credit history and/or collateral, find it difficult to obtain a bank loan. So how and where do you get the money to start your business? Check out these women-friendly institutions:
Women's World Banking, 8 W. 40th St., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018; 212-768-8513; fax: 212-768-8519; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
WWB serves as a global network for women entrepreneurs in developing countries and North America. Its mission is to assist low-income women obtain loans by brokering fund deals on behalf of its affiliates. The average affiliate loan is under $5,000. Affiliates include the Women's Entrepreneurial Growth Organization Inc. in Akron, Ohio, and the Women's Opportunities Resource Center Inc. in Philadelphia.
Women Inc., 1401 21st St., Suite 310, Sacramento, CA 95814; 800-930-3993; fax: 916-448-8898; Web site: http://www.womeninc.com
A $150 million loan pool administered by the Money Store allows Women Inc. to provide funds for its members. Last year, the average loan was $55,000, and plans are in the works to increase that amount. In addition to loans, WI links its members with venture capital groups that seek to invest in women-owned businesses. Lines of credit, debt consolidation and leasing programs for the purchase of equipment are part of its continuum financing.
Women's Collateral Worldwide Inc., 1529 Walnut St., 4th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102; 215-564-2800; fax: 215-564-2801
A liaison for private investors, WCW establishes links with women business owners who are seeking equity capital. WCW focuses on existing service and product-oriented companies; the average investment is $500,000. In addition to capital, WCW also provides marketing for its new deals. A new affiliation with Dun & Bradstreet now enables WCW to offer credit cards and other products to women business owners.
Wells Fargo; 800-359-3557, ext. 120
A hefty $1 billion in revolving and unsecured loans has been earmarked for women entrepreneurs through Wells Fargo Bank and the National Association of Women Business Owners. To simplify the lending process, loans up to $50,000 can be applied for over the phone. Applicants requesting $50,000-plus must reside in California. Twenty-four hour access is available through its in-bank division.
Small Business Administration, Office of Women's Business Ownership; 800-8ASK-SBA; Web Site:http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/womeninbusiness
Formed to address the disparity in loans guaranteed to women, the OWBO offers two viable options for women to start or expand their business. With a simplified application process, a loan for as little as $500 can be acquired through OWBO's low-doc loan program. Loan approval takes three days.
For women seeking capital in excess of $50,000, the women's pre-qualification loan program can underwrite the funds.
Geared toward part-time and home-based businesses, the SBA's Micro-Loan Program designates nonprofit organizations to become lenders. There are 105 lenders throughout the country; and loan requests can go as low as $400.
Blue Chip Venture Co., 2000 PNC Center, 201 E. Fifth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-723-2300; fax: 513-723-2306
Established with $12.1 million in assets, the Blue Chip Opportunity Fund has $2 million left in its portfolio for investments in minority- and women-owned companies. Focusing on varied industries, the fund arranges $250,000 to a maximum of $1.2 million in financing for both start-ups and existing companies. What makes it particularly attractive is the fact that it takes an equity stake of less than 49%.
Inroads Capital Partners, 1603 Orrington Ave., Suite 2050, Evanston, IL 60210; 847-864-2000; fax: 847-864-9692
Aggressive growth is required to obtain capital from ICP. With $50 million in its portfolio, ICP invests in rapidly growing businesses or businesses that seek to acquire other companies. Technology and manufacturing are the hot industries courted by ICP. Its minimum investment is a cool $1 million.