Tips for women thinking of starting their own businesses

If you’re thinking of starting your own business, you’re at the beginning of what will be a long and exciting journey.

Starting any business is full of challenges, but women face some challenges that are different from those men face when doing the same.

From overcoming the gender pay gap to accessing the training that you’ll need, here are a few considerations to plan for before you start your business.

Seek Out Quality Training

As you plan and start your business, you’ll require the skills necessary to succeed, and chances are you’re going to need at least some training to help you start off. Investing in training can pay off in many ways. In fact, gender-based training gaps are common in the workplace, and women are usually less aware that training opportunities exist than men are.

As a business owner, you’ll need to take charge of researching and identifying training opportunities.

Start by looking at the courses offered at your local community college, and check in with your local small business administration to see if they’re offering classes, workshops, or other training opportunities.

If you’re looking for training in a specialized or niche skill, you may need to seek out training from another source.

The availability of online courses makes this easier since you won’t have to travel to complete your training and may be able to complete courses even while you’re running your business. You can find online courses offered by most colleges and universities, and Coursera also offers a series of courses just for women.

Don’t forget about free resources available to you, too. Your local SCORE office can help to connect you to free mentoring from an experienced business owner.

Having a mentor who can help you and answer questions as you build and run your business can be an invaluable resource.

Ideally, if you can connect with a confident businesswoman, you can receive important, personalized advice that can help you during your journey.

Invest in the Right Technology

Technology is integral to a business’s success, and the right technology can make your business more effective and more streamlined too.

Women-owned businesses use all sorts of technology, from e-commerce sites and tools to using smartphones to process payments. Many businesses have come to rely on smart devices for their versatility and affordability.

Your technological needs will largely depend on the type of business you’re running, so you may need to do some careful research and thinking about the unique challenges your business will face.

As you do identify the technology that you need, create a budget or add those expenses into your business’s budget. 

Along with technology, don’t forget that you’ll need the right space for your business too.

You may be able to run your startup out of your home, but that can also leave you competing for privacy from your family and distracted by chores and other obligations.

Joining a coworking space can give you an affordable designated workspace.

It also helps to combat some of the solitude that you can feel when running a business from home, and it can be an ideal solution if you don’t yet need an entire office space of your own.

Move Beyond the Gender Pay Gap

By starting your own business, you’re already taking the first step in moving beyond the gender pay gap.

The pay gap affects women of all ages working in every industry, and each year, women lose approximately $500 million because they make less than men. This pay disparity also affects women’s ability to pay off student loans.

Women already hold two-thirds of the $1.4 trillion in student loan debt within the United States. Since they’re earning less, they have trouble paying those loans back, and one in three females has reported having trouble paying off their student loans. Conversely, only one in four men has reported the same issue.

The frustrations of the gender wage gap may drive many women to become entrepreneurs rather than employees.

As an entrepreneur and business owner, you’ll be in charge of the entire operation and, once your business is successful, you can ensure that you’re earning the paycheck that you deserve.

To launch your business, you may need to secure funding. Unfortunately, gender can also affect your chances of being approved for a loan; women only get approved for 16% of the business loans that are approved in the United States each year. When women are approved for loans, those loans are smaller, amounting to just 80% of the capital men are approved for. This means that women get less money, and they get that money less often.

For this reason, you may want to work with a financial institution that works solely with women.

These institutions exist to help battle that pay gap and funding disparity, and they offer grants and loans specifically for women. It may be easier to be approved when working with one of these institutions than it could be working with a traditional lender.

Starting your business won’t be easy, and it will be a long journey. But, it’s also an exciting and rewarding experience.

All of that effort will go into crafting a business that’s all yours, and when you’re invested in the mission of your business, you may find that starting that business was one of the best decisions you ever made.

This article first appeared on Your Coffee Break.