In support of female entrepreneurship, six female executives at TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, offer their best advice to self-employed women looking to achieve personal and financial success.
“Women have more opportunities in business today than ever before, with the ability to be fully in charge of their career destiny as well as their personal destiny,” said Linda Verba, Executive Vice President, Store Operations and Service Programs, and Chair, Women in Leadership Committee, TD Bank. “It’s important for women to remember that in the quest to do it all and have it all, they shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to others for advice and support. A strong network can provide great momentum along your individual journey to success.”
Be an active member of the business community.
Networking is an essential tool for women small business owners looking to make new connections within their community. Numerous organizations and local chambers of commerce arrange business events and gatherings, which can help entrepreneurs create lasting relationships.
“When meeting with others at a networking event, it’s important for women to be an expert salesperson when talking about their business and its direction,” says Ellen Elia, Senior Retail Officer for TD Bank’s South Florida market. “By understanding her customer base, and projecting passion and enthusiasm, the groundwork will be laid for building individual relationships.”
Regular attendance at select organizations’ events is crucial for effective networking. The more meetings a business owner attends, the more likely it is she’ll be remembered and eventually given referrals by others in the community.
“Arrive at all networking events prepared, and have a committed approach to making a certain number of connections,” says Anne Cerami, Small Business Market Manager for TD Bank’s Massachusetts and Rhode Island markets. “Although some may go to networking events for the free food and beverages, the disciplined and committed professionals will come away with the right connections to elevate their business to the next level.”
Set aside money for unforeseen events.
“The most important advice I preach to small business owners is that it’s absolutely crucial to have a rainy day fund,” says Cerami. “Unfortunately, unpredictable events and natural disasters do occur, and having money set aside for unforeseen expenses can help your business stay afloat.”
When determining the right amount to save, small business owners should tally the total monthly cost of running the business — taking into consideration operating costs, business supplies and employer benefits. Once that number is identified, set aside additional revenue each month until three to six months of expenses are preserved.
“External financing options beyond credit cards can also provide a degree of stability for women-owned businesses, especially during volatile and uncertain macroeconomic times,” says Beata Caranci, Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist, U.S., TD Economics. “For example, open credit lines can be used only in times of need and when drawn upon, offer a much cheaper source of financing than credit cards.”
Continuously review and update your current business plan.
“Women small business owners should define the realistic goals and expectations for their business and identify the steps to reach them,” says Maureen Vanuden, Small Business Market Manager for TD Bank’s Northern New England markets. “Understand your short and long-term cash flow needs and make sure your business plan proves a profitable track record.”
An effective business plan should also include an accurate business balance sheet, exact information on revenue and expenses, and descriptions of assets and liabilities. Research and identify business strengths, weaknesses and key competitors.
“If a woman’s small business is in a position to grow, and the better she can present a successful business plan, the more likely she’ll convince lenders to approve new financing on favorable terms,” says Cerami. “Forecast an adequate financing amount as well as an elaborate plan on its repayment.”
Recruit a strong advisory board.
“Having a small circle of committed friends and acquaintances with knowledge in a particular sector such as law, accounting, or marketing can be a valuable tool for an entrepreneur,” says Rosalin Acosta, TD Wealth Market Leader for Massachusetts. “Ideally, these are people who know more than you do about a particular subject and can provide sound advice while establishing realistic expectations.” Trusted consultants are useful in times of uncertainty and can provide logical advice and an emotional lift when facing an obstacle. Initiate discussions with trusted advisors before making any difficult decisions and maintain contact on a quarterly basis.
“At the end of the day, a female small business owner should strike a balance between career success and personal sanity,” adds Acosta. “Share great wins and unfortunate losses with loyal advisors, but most importantly, learn from them and grow as an overall better person and business owner.”
For more tips and advice, visit TD Bank’s Online Small Business Resource Center at http://www.tdbank.com/small_business/tools_resources.html.
About TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®
TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 7.4 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,275 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida To learn more, find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDMoneyLoungeUS, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US, or visit www.tdbank.com.