– Many women dream of starting their own business. And there are plenty of
advantages. First, you are your own boss, and in control of your own
destiny. Then, you get to to produce that product or service that no one
can do as well as you. You get the satisfaction seeing your business grow.
And there are plenty of tax advantages, too, including lucrative
deductions, credits, writeoffs, and income-splitting opportunities.
Last, but not least, you stand a good chance of gaining true financial
independence. Yet most of the successful businesswomen who consult with me
on financial planning put the possibility of great wealth at the bottom of
the list for starting a business. Mostly, it’s about the independence,
flexibility, and challenge.
Where to start
The first item of business in starting a business is an intangible:
confidence. Above all, successful businesswomen are overflowing with
confidence. It may be trite. It may be a cliché. But it’s nonetheless true.
To start your own business, you have to crush any doubts and trepidation
(and there will be plenty of that) with an overwhelming “can-do” attitude.
Most businesswomen I know started by doing what they love to do best.
Whether it’s selling real estate, managing investment portfolios, running a
bistro-bakery, or selling rare books or baby booties online, they started
with something they knew how to do really well or were really good at. A
good many had already started small businesses on the side providing
services to friends, relatives, and colleagues part time, while working at
that drudge day job in some cubicle farm. With a little proven success
already in hand, they decided to “go it alone” and make their part-time
business their full-time work.
Another common trait of successful businesswomen is that they sought advice
and support from their existing network of experienced business or
professional colleagues who can offer invaluable insight into the ups and
downs of self-employment. They expanded that network to include
professional financial planners, accountants, and lawyers who are experts
at business planning and financial management.
And networking through like-minded business groups, associations, and
professional bodies can provide a goldmine of contacts, marketing know-how,
and tricks of the trade to help get your business off the ground and keep
The two “Cs” of business finances
Most small businesses will almost immediately run up against what I call
the two “Cs” of money: capital and cash flow. Some small businesses can get
started with very little in the way of start-up capital (most any
home-office desktop service operation, for example). Some will require
more, for manufacturing and marketing a new product, for instance, and for
inventory storage, distribution, and so on.
Small businesses with a good idea and not much else have a tough slog ahead
of them. So lining up start up seed capital is essential. Most small
businesswomen dip into personal savings, apply for bank loans, or approach
investors drawn from family and friends, or sometimes those appalling
venture capital types (of the sort you see on TV reality shows where the
word “shark” or “dragon” figures prominently in the title). Rest assured
these people are not representative of all venture investors, many of whom
prefer to call themselves “angel” investors.
Even so, in order to really take care of capital and cash flow, you have to
have a professional plan – a business plan. This is actually quite a
rigorous document (you can find templates at the
BDC website) that sets out quite explicitly what you hope to do and how you hope to do
it, including research and study of your market, competition, and plans for
your marketing, management, operation, and financing. Armed with this,
you’ll know very quickly whether your business is viable and if so, you’ll
also have a strong business presentation to make to your bank manager or
Starting and running your own successful business is challenging, but it’s
also hugely satisfying. To determine whether you’re financially ready to
commit to your own business, talk to your financial planner. Not only is
she a businesswoman in her own right, she’ll be able to give you valuable
insight and advice as well as guide you through many of the technical
details of business start-ups.
Robyn Thompson, CFP, CIM, FCSI, is the founder of
Castlemark Wealth Management, a boutique financial advisory firm specializing in wealth management
for high net worth individuals and families. Contact her directly by
phone at 416-828-7159, or by email at
for a confidential planning consultation.
Notes and Disclaimer
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The foregoing is for general information purposes only and is the opinion
of the writer. Securities mentioned are illustrative only and carry risk of
loss. No guarantee of investment performance is made or implied. It is not
intended to provide specific personalized advice including, without
limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax advice. Please
contact the author to discuss your particular circumstances.