Monday, July 6, 2009

Economic Downturn Creates Entrepreneurial Opportunity

Is now the time for women to pursue their dreams of business ownership?

by M. Lyn Reagan and Linda C. Christensen
March 4, 2009

These are the most difficult economic times that most of us have seen. But difficult times also produce opportunities. Many women executives, who have faced layoffs or other financial-related crises, are seizing this moment to pursue their dreams of business ownership. Some are doing so out of necessity, as good jobs are scarce. Some are choosing to embrace the changes forced upon them and traveling unexpected, new paths. In fact, many of the most successful business leaders would argue that now is an excellent time to start your own business. However, it takes a lot more than a brilliant idea to be successful. Good businesses are going to go back to basics and new entrepreneurs would be wise to follow their lead.

For many of the women entrepreneurs we advise, we recommend a simple, three-step program. They need to:
(1) Plan
(2) Execute
(3) Grow

With good planning and execution, the growth will come.


Write down your business plan and goals. Develop SMART goals; which are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. You should also prepare a realistic budget. Monitor it and your cash flow closely. Mostly importantly, establish relationships with a banker, accountant, lawyer, insurance person, and business coach/mentor. Establish these relationships BEFORE you need them. Meet them in person, and stay in touch.

These relationships will help you do the necessary foundation building of the business, such as:

  • Opening a bank account
  • Obtaining a tax identification number
  • Selecting appropriate accounting software
  • Organizing business records
  • Selecting type of business entity, tax elections, payroll set up
  • Obtaining a business license
Additionally, take advantage of other opportunities and benefits such as registering as a Minority-owned or Woman-owned business. Identify the appropriate networking and business organizations to enhance your marketing and business development. Affinity groups for women in business can serve as remarkable new business generators.

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M. Lyn Reagan and Linda C. Christensen are affiliated with Bennett Thrasher. Bennett Thrasher is Atlanta's 11th largest accounting, audit and consulting firm.

High Energy Journey

Suzanne Sitherwood already has four job titles, and she'll get a new one when she becomes the first woman to chair the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

May 20, 2009

Suzanne Sitherwood didn't really have a career goal in mind when she went to the Atlanta Gas Light Co. as a co-op student. Her father, however, had an inkling. He told her she would end up running the company. Sitherwood recalls laughing - laughing really loudly - to his prediction.

Father does, indeed, know best.

Today Sitherwood, 48, runs three companies and also serves as the senior vice president of Southern Operations for AGL Resources. In that capacity she is the president of three of its utilities - Atlanta Gas Light, Chattanooga Gas and Florida City Gas. Her obligations for AGL Resources are mainly governmental, she says. "I spend most of my time making sure that people are in the right places. You can't get a job done without the right people. I have a lot of titles, and when I'm in Georgia, I say 'I'm the president of Atlanta Gas Light,' and in Florida, I say 'I'm president of Florida City Gas.' You can follow where this is going." She also will be running an entity that even her father couldn't have foretold. Next year, she will become chairperson of the board of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. She will be the first woman in the chamber's 95 years to have that position

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