Samantha M. Besnoff is a CPA, podcast host AND early graduate of our very own Women’s Entrepreneurship certificate program. Samantha reached out to our Program Director, Kirsten Barker, to have a conversation about financial considerations that go into launching a business.
Before the legal paperwork is filed, before the spreadsheet numbers are crunched, before the marketing plan is put in place and employees are hired, there is something even more important that you need to do to start a business–you need to dream. If you want a solid, workable, and potentially profitable business plan you first need to visualize it.
I recommend to budding entrepreneurs to make space for their vision. That means putting aside a few minutes a day to just let your mind go there–to that business idea you’ve had rattling around in the back of your mind. Start simple at first. Maybe just an easy meditation. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and out and allow yourself the space to see a flourishing business. Do this when you are in a somewhat relaxed state of mind. Where are you when you are busy at work in this place? Not only the city or town, but the setting. What does it look like? For instance, Is it a physical space? Or is it digital? Who are your customers? What does an interaction with them look and sound like.
After you’ve got a vision, consider writing it down. It is not unusual for entrepreneurs to write down their thoughts before they start the business, perhaps in a special notebook. If you aren’t much of a writer, consider other modes of expression: illustrations, mood boards, recording your voice as you brainstorm. Putting ideas somewhere other than our minds (paper, your notes app, your bulletin board, etc.) helps to solidify plans in your mind and lets you revisit those plans later.
OK, I get it. You are saying right now that you already know what you want to do. And you don’t have the time. But consider this: the vision makes it easier to reverse engineer the steps needed to get there. And you can’t reverse engineer what you don’t see. The saying “if you can dream it, you can achieve it” absolutely works here. Reverse Engineering means taking a dream and then working your way backwards step by step so that you have a “to do” list of how to achieve that end goal. This process can actually help troubleshoot problems too. For instance, if in your vision you already run into hiccups (i.e., customers who don’t pay, locations that aren’t optimal) then make note of those too. Putting words to anxieties you have about starting a business can help you come up with creative solutions and safeguards so that you don’t put yourself in an uncomfortable situation.
Be flexible! Your vision might change. As you meditate daily on this yet-to-be started business you might notice that there are different versions that change each time you think about your venture. Make note of them! How are they different? Why? And what are the common themes? By making note of the differences and the similarities you can help identify why this business is important to you.
And even more fundamental than this: dreaming is a verb. It is a space you are allowing yourself. If you can’t give yourself 10 minutes to ideate on a business plan, how are you going to actually start a small business? This is the first step to carving out time and space for your plan. It is about setting boundaries with others and giving yourself this gift. The more space and patience you give yourself during this early stage, the easier it will be for you to create a thoughtful, cohesive and profitable business plan.
You deserve this dream.
This piece was authored by Pamela Roskin. Pamela is a Facilitator for the Women’s Entrepreneurship Certificate Program. You can learn more about her by visiting her LinkedIn page.
Featured recently in this article in the Cornell Chronicle, Abena Foli shares how her inspiration to bring West African flavors to the US marketplace was the idea behind her launch of POKS Spices. Foli is a graduate of the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship certificate program and discusses how specific coursework as well as the connections made in the program opened her eyes to funding and resources that were available to launch and scale her business. We are so proud of all that she had achieved so far and can’t wait to see where POKS Spices goes next!
According to this piece in Fast Company, during 2021 alone, over 5 million new companies were registered in the US alone which is an increase of 23% over the previous year. While some of this increase can be attributed to the impact of the global pandemic, research is suggesting that education is playing a role as well.
While some experts have felt that continuing education is more about “signaling rather than skill development”, this new research is providing evidence that additional years of post-high school education can boost self-employment in high-growth industries. Research goes on to point out that, “for women, education may have an even greater impact on encouraging them to jump into entrepreneurship by increasing their confidence in addition to their skills.”
Education is certainly something we believe in at the Institute! If you (or someone you know) would benefit from our free 12-week entrepreneurship certificate program, go to this page and click the “Join the Waitlist” button. We enroll on a quarterly basis and reach out to those on the notification list in the order that they are there.
Tina Fears completed the Women’s Entrepreneurship Certificate program in February 2021. In the interview, Fears shares that after completing the program, “I immediately implemented new business practices that reflect who I am as a leader, a woman, and an entrepreneur. The program also addresses the importance of negotiation, contracts, and critical legal issues women in business face.” Read more about Tina’s experience in this article in the Gwinnett Forum.
MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski recently interviewed Institute Faculty Director, Deborah Streeter and program grad/Institute Special Advisor Jeannette Kaplun on her “Mika Straight Up” podcast. During the episode, the three discussed the background of the 12-week certificate program as well as specific challenges that face women entrepreneurs.
Fabulous piece in Forbes highlighting some of the backstory to the Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell. We are halfway to our current enrollment goal of 100,000 students and the stories about our amazing entrepreneurs just keep getting better! The piece also includes thoughts from one of the graduates of our program, Raquel Solomon (pictured on right).
Bank of America announced their commitment to continue to fund the Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell so that we can bring another 50,000 students through the program at no cost to participants. That will bring our total number to 100,000!
There was an additional press piece reported by Bloomberg that mentioned the expansion of the program and also highlighted one of our program graduates. We are so excited to have the opportunity to continue to work with such a diverse and inspiring group of entrepreneurs in the years ahead!
Check out this link if you want to see the amazing things that graduates of the women’s entrepreneurship certificate program are up to and how they are such important members of their communities. This piece highlights Denisse Lamas from Orlando, FL; Anh LyJordan from Raleigh, North Carolina; and Fila Antwine from NY, NY.