While women have struggled historically with equal pay and discriminatory treatment within the workplace, national trends and statistics show that there's never been a better time to be a businesswoman.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 1950 about one in three women participated in the labor force. But by 1998, nearly three of every five women of working age were in the labor force. In addition, the BLS notes that women's labor force growth should be faster than men's. The Department of Labor notes that women are projected to account for 51.2 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018.
According to a recent article in Newsweek titled "Women Will Rule the World," by 2005, women represented more than a third of people involved in entrepreneurial activity, and the number of women-owned firms continues to grow at twice the rate of all U.S. firms. As authors Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison write, "Indeed, it's not a leap to say that female entrepreneurship may help revive the fortunes of the middle class in the developed world."
Rita Talamonti, a personal financial advocate who recently launched her company, Good Egg LLC, knows firsthand about succeeding as an entrepreneur in today's complex economic environment. Talamonti's story mirrors that of many women around the country: After several years in the corporate world, Talamonti realized that she wanted to venture out on her own and start a business. With hopes of furthering her knowledge and increasing her business acumen, Talamonti returned to school, attending DeVry University to earn her master's degree in accounting and financial management. "I felt accounting was a practical skill that could allow me to become entirely independent," says Talamonti. "My degree truly prepared me to venture out on my own."
Talamonti's success has led her to encourage her female peers to follow their own dreams. "Now is truly the best time for women to think about starting their own businesses," says Talamonti. "When the economy is changing as it is today, women with entrepreneurial minds can take a look at the needs of the population and ask themselves how they can help meet those needs." She offers three tips for aspiring female entrepreneurs:
- Find a mentor. Talamonti explains that once she identified the need for financial managers within her community, she sought the advice of respected professionals in her network before fleshing out her plans of becoming a financial consultant. "When I started thinking about launching Good Egg, I spoke with women in several industries, all tangentially related to accounting. The advice and insights they gave me were invaluable," she says.
- Further your education. "Making sure you have the appropriate level of certification is key," Talamonti notes. "Before beginning your business, consider returning to school to get an advanced degree in your field of choice. It's important to be an expert in your industry — and your customers will want to know your background and credentials." Talamonti's alma mater, DeVry University, is home to five colleges of study with a deep offering of degree programs that prepare students for a multitude of in-demand careers.
- Put your plan in writing. Talamonti stresses that having an idea isn't enough. It's essential to put a strong, thoughtful business plan down on paper before executing anything. "Once I developed my initial business plan, I asked my mentors, both professional and educational, to review my ideas before I implemented them," she says.
Talamonti is passionate about the opportunities available for women in today's economic climate. "Whether you're just starting your education, you've been laid off or you're considering a career change, now is the time to reassess your options and consider opening your own business," says Talamonti. "Ask yourself what you're passionate about and where the needs are in the marketplace - and then begin to take ownership of your career."