Assignment 13: The She-E.O.

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EAU CLAIRE, WI (WEAU) -- Have you ever thought about quitting your job, going out on your own, and creating your own business?

You're not alone.

Every year, thousands of people decide to go at it alone and become self-employed.

And according to government statistics, more and more women and stay-at-home moms are turning to a more flexible lifestyle for their families, by starting their own businesses.

As of this year, there are more than 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.

They generate more than 1.3 trillion dollars in revenue, and employ 7.8 million people.

American Express did a study based on the census, and found women-owned businesses are up 59% from 16 years ago.
Over the last month, we talked to the experts, and found some great advice if you want to become, "The She-E.O."

The kids at Lilypad Lab on this night we're having fun with a sing-along. And fun is what Vanessa Moessner had in mind when she opened her doors.

"I love this business so much, i don't want to stop doing it", Moessner says.

Moessner opened her business in February. She offers classes and activities for kids and their parents focused on science. She was a teacher, and then decided to stay home with her kids. But the need to keep teaching and an idea, nudged her into self employment.

Moessner says, "I knew starting a business was very, very risky. So I started small."

So how risky is starting a small business? According to the numbers from the Small Business Administration, about half of all businesses that start will fail within five years. And only a third will survive ten years or more. But the good news, the longer your business is open, the better chance it has at survival.

Denise Wurtzel says, "I wouldn't change anything. I don't think I would work for anyone again."

Wurtzel has beat the odds. She's owned Williams Diamond Center since 1997, and says being self-employed is tough, but she says the benefits are incredible.

"I never missed anything with my daughter's school, because I made sure I was there. I also picked this location to be close to home, church and school", Wurtzel told us.

From the flexible schedule to the people she gets to meet, Wurtzel says she wouldn't have it any other way.

"If you really enjoy what you're doing, doesn't matter what the business is, if your heart is in it, and you're willing to put the time and effort into it, you'll be successful", she says.

Bob McCoy told us, "If you don't get your name out there, you can't just open the doors and expect them to walk in."

In his decades with the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce, McCoy's seen his fair share of businesses succeed, and fail.

"I've seen 'em say, we're going to do a quarter-million dollars in sales the second month. I say how are you going to get there. Well, I just will. I say no, no, there has to be a plan", McCoy says.

Karman Briggs says, "For you as an individual, the process of putting together a business plan, that in itself is what it's worth. It forces you to think through all these things ahead of time, before you have to, and they're an issue."

Karman Briggs sees people day in, and day out who have an idea and a dream. She heads up Western Dairyland's Women's Business Center, and specializes in helping women succeed in small business. To succeed, she says there are some key things you can do to better your chances.

The first is write a business plan, and get help if you need to. The plan will help you decide if your business idea can truly succeed, or if there are hidden dangers lurking in the numbers. Also, make sure you have a good group of people who can help you, and give you advice on business. McCoy says that's why most major companies have a board of directors, because a "She-E.O." can't do everything on her own.

And finally, there's marketing. You have to have a plan, in order to get your name out there, and get people to buy whatever it is your selling.
And remember, most of the big companies in the u-s, started out small, with a dream.

"We wouldn't have the 3Ms, we wouldn't have the Hutchinson Technology, we wouldn't have those companies if those entrepreneurs didn't do that", McCoy says.

As for Vanessa Moessner and Denise Wurtzel, they say there will always be challenges, but they've both learned, this is their road to happiness.

"I love being able to contribute to my family financially, even if it's a small amount, it feels good", Moessner says.

"I ended up someplace I didn't think I'd end up. But I love it, and it's become my passion", Wurtzel added.

If you want to start your own business, the first place to go is the Small Business Administration. They have a website full of important information to help you get started.

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