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Women's Business Center

West Company continually searches for sources of funding from outside our county to serve local entrepreneurs. Why does the federal government have a special program for women?

Every minute, five women start a business. In 2006, nearly 10.4 million firms were owned by women. These firms employee 12.8 million people and generate 1.9 trillion in sales. Between 1997 and 2006, women owned firms grew by 42%, twice the rate of all firms. Women owned businesses account for 41% of all privately held firms.

What does a woman owned business need to know? The same things any business owner needs to know which is why 14% of the clients of the 114 women's business centers nationwide are men. There may be a bit more emphasis on achieving balance and not selling yourself short but that is good advice for anyone.

The biggest question any business owner asks is how to fund the business. What are the startup costs? How much will it cost to produce your product or service? What will it cost to operate the business on a monthly basis? What about your personal financial needs? How long will it take to recoup the investment you will make in time and money?

The accepted method of answering these questions is a business plan. This is a key stage of business development that many entrepreneurs skip. Corporate America understands the importance of the business plan so you won't find one without a strategic plan in place. Why do smaller entrepreneurs skip it?

Everyone in the business development field has their own theory. It's too much work, they don't know how; they don't understand the benefit or my personal favorite, they are afraid. Afraid of what they might find out, afraid the challenges discovered will destroy their enthusiasm for the business and discourage them from starting.

What they should be thinking is "What a great opportunity to make my mistakes on paper so I don't have to make mistakes in life." Mistakes on paper cost nothing in terms of cash and relatively little in terms of time. They are the best kind to make.

Free information available on business plan development is available at Locally West Company, the Mendocino Women's Business Center and the Mendocino Small Business Development Center provide one-on-one counseling and workshops in Fort Bragg and Ukiah.