By Judy M. McCutcheon.
I read an article by a divorced woman giving marriage advice, and while nothing is wrong with that, what piqued me is one of the points she listed for keeping your man “you must look pretty at all times.” What are we, Barbie dolls? Ladies, it’s about time we stop smiling and nodding our heads and join the conversation, no more shrinking and pinking. This one, in particular, is for my fellow entrepreneurial sisters. We get bogged down by everything, we spend time concentrating on making the business work, networking, looking for new clients, paying bills, sending out proposals and we spend very little time looking at our finances. As a matter of fact, analysing your finances is not even on your to-do list. You are uncomfortable with your current financial situation, you have debt that you are behind on and your savings, well that’s non-existent. You haven’t looked at your insurances in quite a while, so you don’t know if it’s adequate and your health insurance situation sometimes makes you sweat around the collar, you know you need to take charge of your finances but you don’t know how.
I got you, my sister, we can take this journey together, we can support and hold each other up, don’t leave your finances in someone else’s hands. You deserve financial excellence in both your business and your personal life, and with this article, we will look at various ways you can get your business finances together. Female-led businesses have a tremendous impact on the communities in which they operate and across the wider business community, but there are many obstacles we face that sometimes makes us want to give up. We are faced with the enormous challenge of trying to make it in a male-dominated arena, we are also confronted with one of our biggest adversary – our fellow sisterhood; but we are “badass,” we can surmount all those challenges and come out triumphant on the other side.
Having sufficient capital is important for the day to day operation and growth of your business, and you must tackle this issue directly for your business to succeed, take the bull by the horns. I know that we need to balance business and family but I think that there is a bigger issue at play here; why is there such a big disparity between women in the workforce and women who are business owners? The economic empowerment of women can bring significant gains to the economy. Maybe if we had more access to capital for capacity building, more of us might be willing to take that leap of faith. This is a huge untapped opportunity and our financial institutions need to seriously join the discussion about providing sound financial backing to female entrepreneurs. But first, some action is needed on our part before you can start that conversation.
Let’s look at some starting points as you work your way towards the growth and development of your business:
Get your house in order – before you can approach an investor or even a financial institution, it’s essential that you know exactly where you are in terms of your finances. Keep accurate records and documentation, which includes copies of your filed tax returns, your profit and loss statements and other documents that may not be money related but significantly impacts your business.
Develop a strong relationship with a financial institution – the Credit Unions in recent times have stepped up to help with the growth and expansion of small businesses, therefore the bank is not your only choice. But whichever type of financial institution you wish to use, ensure that you develop a good relationship with them. Payday loan companies are not financial institutions you want to use to grow your business, no matter how fast and easy you can have access to the cash. Take the time to properly explore the lending options available.
Take advantage of business credit – do not use your personal credit card for business purposes, get a separate business card for your business purchases. Use whatever credit facility is available from your vendors, this kind of arrangement is usually easier to get into than getting a loan from a financial institution.
Leverage your network – there are plenty of networking opportunities out there, no need to reinvent the wheel. There’s the chamber of commerce and other gatherings of business people, learn to play golf, that’s an excellent way to meet the people that can give you a help up. Investigate what other associations are out there to support women entrepreneurs, they do not need to be local associations.
Find a mentor – a mentor can provide valuable insights from different perspectives, your mentor does not have to be exclusive. In fact, I would recommend that you have a mix of male/female from different backgrounds that can guide you, and who you can lean on depending on the situation.
Ultimately, it’s about you taking charge of your finances for the future growth and development of your business. Remember that there can be no success without sacrifice. Therefore, you must keep pressing forward in the midst of all your challenges, even when fear grips you deep in the pit of your stomach – use that fear to propel you, don’t let it stop you-you got this.
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