By Benjamin Pimentel
It's tough to start a small business. But some are easier to start than others -- those that are less about who you know, and more about what you know.
As you're considering a fresh start for 2016, think about turning skills you already have into a new business. Using this method, and securing loans and financing for women-owned businesses, can help you get a venture underway faster.
To find inspiration, "I would ask, what are the things you know?" says Tanya Bunger, a business consultant and a professor at California's Santa Clara University. "What are you good at? What have you been doing? What brings you joy? And what are the needs in your community?"
Start a business/professional consulting service
"Women can parlay their corporate experience into individual consulting businesses," says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation, which helps entrepreneurs set up their small businesses. "It's a great way to monetize past experiences."
"We have also seen a significant number of health care consultants who work with companies that are trying to figure out the new health care laws," she adds.
A bonus of becoming this sort of entrepreneur is the potential for a welcome lifestyle change, she says: "Attorneys who want to work more flexible schedules can offer their legal consulting services to business owners."
Become a team building/workforce consultant
"Whether [you provide] events, trainings or methods to work better as a team," she adds, "this can be a great offering that women can get up and running very quickly."
Buy a food truck
Plus, she says, it might be easier to secure financing for a food truck: "The truck itself can be used as an asset to put up as collateral on the loan. You don't have that with a restaurant."
Still, food can be a tricky small-business arena, especially when it comes to growing revenue at a steady pace, cautions Sharon Miller, CEO of Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, a nonprofit that helps aspiring entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income communities.
"Sometimes," she says, "people will say, 'I baked these wonderful cakes and everyone wants to buy them.' 'Everyone' is a very large pool of people. Everyone may love them if you bring them to their house for free."
Help people to 'age at home'
"This can be a valuable service, especially with our aging population," she says. "The demand for 'age at home' is growing."
Manage someone else's home
Bunger, of Santa Clara University, cites the oft-repeated statistic that women are in charge of 80% of consumer buying decisions in the U.S.; simply managing your own household well could qualify you to help others.
"If I'm a woman, I'm already making those decisions," she says. Women "would have a good sense of what's needed."
To sum it up
But don't move too quickly.
"Running a business isn't easy," says Miller, of Renaissance. "It's important that they have a clear path in mind."
To get more information about funding options and compare them for your small business, visit NerdWallet's small-business loans page. For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit the Small Business section of NerdWallet's Ask an Advisor page.
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