The number of American women who own their own businesses is on the rise from Harlem to Hollywood. It’s estimated that more than 9.1 million women now lead their own enterprises. What’s more, from 1997 to 2014, when the number of businesses in the United States grew by 47 percent, those owned by women grew by 68 percent, according to a report published by American Express OPEN.
One woman who is part of that trend – and is helping other women become their own bosses, too – says those statistics may not be that surprising.
“I think many women are willing to branch out on their own because they decide that the benefits outweigh the risks,” says Dr. Diana Hoppe, founder of Amazing Over 40 Inc. (www.amazingover40.com), a health coaching certification program for women.
“We live in a time when people often re-invent themselves because job opportunities are limited or they are looking for new challenges.”
Hoppe says that when you do that, it’s important to study the market to see where the opportunities are going to be and find a good fit for yourself.
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“The women I work with who are going into health coaching, for instance, understand that having a health coach is a major trend in fitness,” she says. “So look at the trends. Where will the opportunities be?”
October is National Women’s Small Business Month and Hoppe says there are plenty of advantages to starting a business. Among them:
- Be Your Own Boss. When you own your own business, you can discover what it’s like to be fully independent, dictating your own path without anyone looking over your shoulder. You’re the boss and the decisions are yours.
- Set Your Own Schedule. Maybe you want to work a full 40-hour week, or maybe you are seeking a part-time schedule. When you are setting up your own business, you have more flexibility about when, where and how you work.
- Find Work That Fulfills You. Those who start a business can create a career for themselves that provides fulfillment. Hoppe says she has seen that in action with women who decided to become health coaches. They can personally change the lives of the clients they work with, helping them take charge of their health and discover their best selves. “I think it’s always important – whether you are launching a business or building a career working for someone else – that you find something you consider rewarding,” she says.
But it’s also critical to have a strong business plan so that you understand the market, have specific goals and know how to achieve those goals.
“If you don’t focus on building a strong foundation for your business at the beginning, it is likely to fail or not grow as fast as it can,” Hoppe says.
Among the factors to consider is that some businesses require more overhead than others. For example, if you are working from home, you don’t need to worry about leasing commercial space. Regardless, it’s crucial to make sure you have the necessary capital for whatever business you launch.
That’s been challenging at times for women, according to the National Women’s Business Council. Research shows that businesses owned by women start with about half the amount of capital as men, the council reports.
But don’t think you need millions of dollars, Hoppe says. Many successful businesses have been started with a relatively small amount of money.
“One of the most frequent questions I get asked involves what the start-up costs are for becoming a health coach,” she says. “This is a good example of one of the less costly businesses to start. Mainly, you just need business cards, a cell phone, a computer and transportation. Of course, not every business is quite that simple.”
Once a business is in full swing, one goal is to continue to grow the business while keeping current clients or customers happy, Hoppe says.
“One thing you can do for your customers is develop a relationship with them by engaging them on social media or by keeping them interested with email content,” she says. “Customer service is a critical part of any business because once someone begins to use your product or service, you want them to keep coming back.”
Dr. Diana Hoppe, an obstetrician and gynecologist, is the founder of Amazing Over 40 Inc. (www.amazingover40.com), a health coaching certification program for women. She also is an author and speaker who has been featured on a number of TV shows, including “Dr. Oz.”