As someone who has been working since I was sixteen, I knew early on that I was not the type of girl who could ever conform to a 9-5 job. I always felt deep down there was an entrepreneurial spirit waiting to come out. Naturally, I am always intrigued when other people tell me they are starting their own business. A couple of years ago, I was talking to my brother’s ex-girlfriend, Erica Mensah, and I discovered she had started her own catering business. Right away I wanted to write about her. I don’t have to tell you, being the inquisitive type I was all up in her ‘business.’ The reality is, Erica is not alone. Some time ago, web magazine Projecteve reported in, 19 Best Paying Jobs for Women in 2013, that, “these days, women are starting new firms at twice the rate of all other businesses.” And that, “according to research, it is projected that women labor force will increase to 78 million by the year 2018.
Erica is a college graduate who received a B.S. in Health Science from Lincoln University, and an M.S. in Exercise Science and Rehabilitation from Brooklyn College. During our talk, Erica told me she always had a passion for cooking and always wanted to own something food related since High school. So, when she was laid-off from her exercise physiology position she decided it was the right time to invest in her passion. She explained, “The first thing I did was find a name that best represented me. So I can express what food meant to me in my cooking, and how I wanted to serve my food. Although, I was scared of putting what I love on a plate for people to judge. I had to ask myself: can I do this?” Ultimately, it was the people that were rooting for her that motivated Erica to continue on her journey. They saw her potential before she did. Knowing that, made her feel empowered, and reassured her she could do anything she set out to do. Finally, Erica said she used her earnings to fund her dream, and social media like, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to spread the word and to increase her clientele list. But as a novice, she said if she could give any advice to someone starting out, it would be, “Save ahead of time because there are lots of expenses seen and unforeseen.” Also, networking is the key and equally important is research, research, and more research. So far, Erica said she feels confident in knowing she can succeed, and she feels more comfortable with the aspects of what she is doing.
I learned in the past if someone wanted to start their own business, he or she would jump right in. They will hit up friends and family for start-up funds, and hope for the best. Of course, that was then and this is now. Today, many experts write the first step to starting a business is to attend business seminars that covers the basics of starting a business. Seminars that teaches you about Business Registration, Licenses, and Legal Structures (LLC, S Corp., Partnership, etc.) of your business. I also read another important factor is to be well informed, specially when it comes to start up funds if you have non. For that there are a bunch of online tools that can help with fund raising. One such popular tool is Crowd-funding. Another advice experts give is, do your research and research some more. They insist that information is golden. One of the places you can get valuable business start-up information is at sba.gov. The website offers an abundance of information, from how to write a business plan, knowing your customer and the future of your business, to a list of organizations that specialize in helping women business owners, and much more.
In the end, it was inspirational to talk to my girl Erica who taught me a lesson in following your dreams even if you are scared. I especially loved when she said, “Do something you are passionate about, because the road isn’t always going to be smooth. You have to do something you love to persevere. Your gift is the only gift you have. So if you can, share it, and make sure you love love what you do.”
For additional information and resources check out these links:
- Small Business Resources for Women
- 22 Essential Websites for Women
- Funding Opportunities Available for Women Business Owners
- The Top Cities for Female Entrepreneurs