Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized’ Category

Writing a Smart Business Plan Can Help You Get Money

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Quite a few women wrote me after my last email to ask if they needed to submit a business plan to apply for the womensnet.net Amber Grant. I’m glad to say the answer is no. Applying for the Amber Grant takes only a few minutes of your time. Not only is it simple, but I dare say it’s even fun for most women to share their ideas and thoughts about business ownership.
But – you should know that almost all banks, lending institutions, investors, or grant underwriters will want to see your business plan before offering you money for your small business. (Honestly, some of the most successful business ideas I’ve been involved with were outlined over several drinks at a local pub – but most banks don’t accept notes on a bar napkin as a business plan… too bad!!)

With all that said, if you’re a woman entrepreneur looking for money for your small business, you should most certainly take the time to create a business plan. I don’t want you to be intimated by the task, so I thought I would take the time to give you a general idea of what banks or grant underwriters are looking for – along with a few tips to help sway them.

The fundamentals of a business plan are simple. Anyone considering giving you money for your small business wants to know two basic things. First they want to know some details about your business. And, second, they want to know how you plan to grow your business in the future. Not too complicated, right?

Now let’s break down the essential parts of creating your small business plan:

1. Title Page – This page identifies your business and contact information. It should include the name of your business, mailing and/or physical address, phone number, fax number, email address, website URL, as well as the names of the owners of the business. It’s also a good idea to note when your business was formed, and what type of legal entity your business is formed under.

2. Table of Contents – Tell them what you’re going tell them. Give the reader a sneak peek of what they can expect to see in the rest of the document. Just write a sentence or two for each section to pique the interest of the reader.

3. Introduction – Start with a brief one-page summary of why you created your business plan. In other words, tell them your objective. In this case, you will explain why you need money for your business. Next, you should describe your business. Nothing elaborate. Just get the point across in a few sentences. The final part of the Introduction section is to tell the potential lender, investor or grant underwriter about your background and how you were inspired to come up with your business. Include your special skill-set or experiences that are relevant to your business venture. This is your chance to sell them on your business’ most important asset – YOU!

4. Business Description – You want to explain to them the specifics of the products or services you provide. Please take this time to brag a little about what you do. For example, if you are starting a baked goods business, don’t just say you sell baked goods. Give a reason of what makes what you unique. You have a baked goods business that uses only vegan and organic ingredients. Or you specialize in wedding cakes. Or, as one small business owner near me has named her storefront – she is the “Pie Lady.” Guess who every restaurant owner in town thinks of when they want to buy the best pies for their customers?

5. Personnel – A potential lender wants to know about any other key people who are helping you with your business. If other folks are directly involved in your business, your small business plan should mention it. Who are they? What will they do? And what are their special skills and experiences? Be sure to talk up other members of your team.

6. Operations – This section describes the day-to-day operations of your business. You should take the time here to explain the procedures for production and delivery of your goods or services. It’s also worth telling the reader about some boring but important stuff – your equipment needs, your hiring procedures, the details of any vendor contracts, lease agreements, insurance policies. Yes, boring, but any astute investor will be impressed that you had the smarts to mention these crucial items.

7. Marketing – Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Anyone with an interest in giving you money will want to know how you plan to make MORE money with your business. Estimate your customer demand along with identifying your market and its size. Make sure to explain how you’re going to market your product or service. Let them know who your competition is, and your marketing strategy for making your business stand out. What is your pricing strategy? What makes your product or service unique? Here’s a tip: You might want to actually write this section first when you create your business plan. It will take the most time and energy because marketing is the cornerstone to your success. You have to know who you’re selling your product or service to and how to sell it.

8. Financial Management – This might be the most scrutinized part of your business plan. Here is a check list of what you should include:

* Projected start up costs: How much money will you need to get your business started, and what are you going to be spending that money on.

* Monthly operating budget for the first 2 years: How much money will it require to run your business each month.

* Projected monthly cash flow for the first 2 years: Cash flow shows how much revenue your business earns, minus how much it spends.

* Projected income statement got the first 2 years: How much revenue do you expect to produce in your business start-up phase?

* Your projected profit and loss: Show how much money you expect to make.

* Your break-even point: How much profit will you have to make to pay back your initial investment?

* Your compensation for working the business: If you tell a lender that you don’t plan to take any salary, you had better be independently wealthy! Otherwise, factor in a reasonable salary.

* Your personal financial statement: They’ll want to know most everything about your personal finances.

* Supporting Documents: It’s a smart idea to include any supporting information that would help convince the reader that your plan is viable and your working assumptions are reasonable.

9. Conclusion – These are your final thoughts to share. Mention again your business aims, and the amount of money you’ll need from a third party. This is also a good place to restate your passion and personal commitment to your business.

Please let us know what your thoughts are. We enjoy your feedback.

WNN Grant Update

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

We’re excited to tell you about some new things happening on womensnet.net that I’m sure will help you.

** First, a quick reminder that we’re still taking Amber Grant applications for this quarter. Plus we have more exciting news for Amber Grant applicants: one of the people who reviews the applications has agreed to become an angel investor for a select business. The angel investment is not guaranteed each quarter. But what it DOES means to you is that even if you were not awarded the Amber Grant – you could still catch the eye of an angel investor. It’s just another opportunity to gain FREE funding for your business or business idea. And it would give the chance to work with a successful entrepreneur who can help mentor you along the way.

** We’re redesigning the womensnet.net site and re-launching it next week. Along with that new look, we’re looking for women who want to submit articles on any range of topics within the business world. Tell us how you launched your business, how you got your start-up money, or any lessons you’ve learned along the way that you’d like to share with others. Besides helping other women with their business dreams, you’ll be getting some valuable exposure for your business as well. If you’re interested in submitting an article, please shoot me an email at womensnetnet@gmail.com

** Also as part of our re-launch, we’re going to provide more assistance on micro-loan funding. It seems this is a bigger trend in other countries than here in the U.S., but if you’ve had a good experience with a micro-lender, please tell us about your experience.

** I came across an article that might inspire you – besides mentioning a character from one of my favorite TV shows of the 1970s, Alice from the “Brady Bunch.” Check out the article, which lists a list of unique businesses (mostly web-driven), and maybe it will spark an idea for you. Daily Finance Article.

** A recent October article by Bloomberg News should offer encouragement for women entrepreneurs. The article reports that – according to the US Department of Commerce – women-owned businesses grew at a much greater pace than male-owned businesses. Companies owned by women grew at 44% vs. 22% for those owned by men. Rebecca Blank, the Commerce undersecretary of economic affairs said, “There’s clearly a sense here, if you look into the future, of an enormous growth opportunity for women-owned businesses in the private sector.”

** More good news for us women. According to a “Washington Post” article from this past Saturday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is implementing a rule designed to give women-owned businesses a greater shot at winning more federal government contracts. The SBA has identified a whopping 83 categories in which women-owned businesses have been underrepresented. A current federal law already mandates that 5% of federal contracts go to women-owned businesses. But the reality is that only 3.68% of all government contracts went to women in 2009. The new SBA rule is trying to simply get the federal government to comply with its own law.

WNN Womens’ Grant Update

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

We’re excited to tell you about some new things happening on womensnet.net that I’m sure will help you.
** First, a quick reminder that we’re still taking Amber Grant applications for this quarter. Plus we have more exciting news for Amber Grant applicants: one of the people who reviews the applications has agreed to become an angel investor for a select business. The angel investment is not guaranteed each quarter. But what it DOES means to you is that even if you were not awarded the Amber Grant – you could still catch the eye of an angel investor. It’s just another opportunity to gain FREE funding for your business or business idea. And it would give the chance to work with a successful entrepreneur who can help mentor you along the way.

** We’re redesigning the womensnet.net site and re-launching it next week. Along with that new look, we’re looking for women who want to submit articles on any range of topics within the business world. Tell us how you launched your business, how you got your start-up money, or any lessons you’ve learned along the way that you’d like to share with others. Besides helping other women with their business dreams, you’ll be getting some valuable exposure for your business as well. If you’re interested in submitting an article, please shoot me an email at womensnetnet@gmail.com

** Also as part of our re-launch, we’re going to provide more assistance on micro-loan funding. It seems this is a bigger trend in other countries than here in the U.S., but if you’ve had a good experience with a micro-lender, please tell us about your experience.

** I came across an article that might inspire you – besides mentioning a character from one of my favorite TV shows of the 1970s, Alice from the “Brady Bunch.” Check out the article, which lists a list of unique businesses (mostly web-driven), and maybe it will spark an idea for you. Daily Finance Article.

** A recent October article by Bloomberg News should offer encouragement for women entrepreneurs. The article reports that – according to the US Department of Commerce – women-owned businesses grew at a much greater pace than male-owned businesses. Companies owned by women grew at 44% vs. 22% for those owned by men. Rebecca Blank, the Commerce undersecretary of economic affairs said, “There’s clearly a sense here, if you look into the future, of an enormous growth opportunity for women-owned businesses in the private sector.”

** More good news for us women. According to a “Washington Post” article from this past Saturday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is implementing a rule designed to give women-owned businesses a greater shot at winning more federal government contracts. The SBA has identified a whopping 83 categories in which women-owned businesses have been underrepresented. A current federal law already mandates that 5% of federal contracts go to women-owned businesses. But the reality is that only 3.68% of all government contracts went to women in 2009. The new SBA rule is trying to simply get the federal government to comply with its own law.

Clever Container May Be a Clever Idea for You!

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Because we giveaway the Womensnet Amber Grant every quarter, there are many business ideas that we come across that we feel the need to spotlight. I recently corresponded with Karen Eschbach, President and Founder of Clever Container. I’m so intrigued with her business idea that I wanted to pass along her information — for those of you who may be laid off, wanting to switch careers, or even supplement your existing income. I believe this business model can work in any demographic area in the United States. Unless there are areas that prefer to be disorganized that we don’t know about!

Karen advised that Cleaver Containers is a “business very similar to Avon, Mary Kay and Pampered Chef except we present and sell organizing products. Our consultants either purchase or earn a (starter) kit. Once they receive the kid, they show the products at home parties and earn commission the night of the party.”

Here is Clever Container’s information:

karen@clevercontainer.com
www.clevercontainer.com
www.organizingjustgotfun.com
313-804-0523

New Handbook Helps Women Business Owners

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Need financing to launch your business or expand the one you have? A new handbook helps women business owners identify little-known sources of valuable funding.

Beyond Grants: 8 Super Ideas to Get Money for Your Business (and Other Financing Tips for Women Entrepreneurs), a 43-page guide from an award-winning business author, provides priceless tips and tactics for tapping into money that’s available for businesses now.

“Access to capital has been a huge issue for women business owners for decades,” says the handbook’s author, Marcia Layton Turner, author of The Unofficial Guide to Starting Your Own Business and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Small Business and a small business expert at BusinessWeek.com. “Ironically, while women struggle to find, qualify for, and access funding, they are the primary drivers of small business growth.”

According to the SBA, the percentage of women-owned businesses increased nearly 20 percent between 1997 and 2002, the most recent figures available. Women owned 28 percent of non-farm businesses in the U.S. in 2002, increasing employment by 70,000 jobs. And yet, the National Women’s Business Council reports that women have more difficulty securing the funding needed to start and expand their firms than male-owned companies; a 2003 survey by the organization identified access to capital as the biggest challenge women business owners reported facing.
The $27 instantly downloadable handbook features specific, here’s-how-to-do-it information in eight sections. Each section features clickable links to specific contacts and resources online. To learn more or to purchase Beyond Grants: 8 Super Ideas to Get Money for Your Business (and Other Financing Tips for Women Entrepreneurs), go to www.womensnet.net

Womensnet.net Marketplace Showcase

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

When you get a chance, check out our Womensnet.net Market Place page. Here is the link: http://ambergrantsforwomen.com/. From time to time we will feature a business that is in the WNN Community.

If you are interested in having your business featured, please fill out the application.

The first business to be featured in the coming week will be:
Your Own Beauty’s
http://www.makeupmonthly.com/
Keisha Roland Owner & CEO
P: 866-431-1850F: 253-390-0173
P.O. Box 27072Federal Way, WA 98023