help save the economy
by Allison Bliss
Oakland Business Review
I work with businesses, in the media, and for a diverse group of organizations,
and over time, I have seen patterns develop that indicate which companies
will be successful or "entrepreneurially" fit. Companies
that have strong vision, marketing and finance, and develop great
management systems are a cut above the rest. Why? Because they seek
professional help in these areas.
There are so many pitfalls in each area - marketing that doesn't suit
the company's image, staffing problems, uncontrollable cash flow and
more. Without a consultant, guide or adequate qualified staffing small
companies might feel like they are up against impassable hurdles.
That is when help should be sought.
According to the Small Business Association (SBA), "50 percent
of new businesses in the U.S. fail within the first four years. Those
20 percent who survive in business ten years learn to leverage existing
skills and utilize experts to help their businesses."
Since our culture typically has encouraged women, more so than men,
to ask for help, they often actually get the help they need while
men try to muscle through and learn as they go. Getting the help you
need through outside resources helps your business; women-owned businesses
show this impact clearly, as indicated by the following recent studies:
Women-owned firms number 6.2 million, employ 9.2 million, and generate
$1.15 trillion in sales nationwide, reports a study by the Center
for Women's Business Research and Wells Fargo. The number of women-owned
businesses continues to grow at twice the rate of all U.S. firms.
The expansion in the number of women-owned businesses with 100 or
more employees increased 68 percent faster than all businesses breaking
the "100 employee mark" during the 1997 to 2000 period.
Those with $1 million or more in revenues are outpacing the growth
rate of all businesses of the same size.
The study also documents that women-owned businesses are as financially
robust and creditworthy as all businesses, regardless of size.
The study reported that women-owned firms continue to start up in
every industry. Yet some industries show greater than average start-up
activity. In total, one-third (33.6 percent) of women-owned firms
are less than four years old. Over the past years, though, the industries
with the greatest share of new women-owned firms are:
€ Health services (45 percent of women-owned firms are less than four
€ Retail trade - General merchandise stores (44.4 percent)
€ Finance and insurance (37.5 percent)
€ Engineering/accounting/research services (36.4 percent)
€ Business services (36.2 percent).
Bay Area shows top growth
The Sacramento-San Francisco-Oakland corridor in California is among
the top ten metropolitan areas in the country with the greatest share
of women-owned firms, ranging from an impressive 32.5 percent in Oakland
to 30.8 percent in Sacramento and San Francisco.
Consultants can help businesses one-on-one to solve specific problems.
There are several good local organizations to help small and growing
business owners with more general needs, such as:
€ The Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, (415) 541-8580
€ SBDC - Small Business Development Centers, 893-4114
€ SBA - Small Business Association, (415) 744-6820 or visit http://www.sba.gov/ca/sf/
€ Career Centers (for a list of local centers, visit http://jobstar.org/resource/carcent/alameda.cfm)
Allison Bliss is the head of Allison Bliss Consulting, which provides
strategic marketing, writing, promotions and publicity at 510-864-8500.
For more information, read the Oakland Business Review, the Chambers
monthly business newspaper.