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How to Start a Business

“There is a woman behind all great things.” --Alphonse de Lamartine, French Poet, writer and politician (1790-1869)
I have been fortunate to have three young women in my life who have been pivotal in beginning my business: My mother and twin sisters, Alyssa & Lauren. My sisters, Alyssa & Lauren were officially the first people in our family to launch their business off the ground. Since 2006, they have been very successful. They have been presented with Entrepreneur of the Year awards and distinction awards from Growing UP CEO, Inc Magazine, Ernst and Young and El Diario La Prensa respectively. They are continuing to grow their business with a new eCommerce Website being launched this Fall/winter 2009. I had the chance to collaborate with the girls by interviewing these award-winning entrepreneurs on how to successfully start a business. This is an article that will be very helpful and insightful to our readers.

Step 1: Opportunity recognition: “See a Need fill a Need”

Alyssa says, “Well, at first, I didn't want to start a business! When my mom told me about a program called NFTE Biz Camp, I wasn't interested because I thought having your own business would be boring… At Biz Camp we were taken to the wholesale district in NYC with the assignment to purchase $25 in merchandise and resell it. I was in heaven! I could work surrounded by beautiful things and use my artistic eye to pick the right merchandise making money by bringing fashion jewelry to all my friends who I knew didn't have access to quality fashion jewelry…” Lauren says, “Since there are no jewelry or accessory stores in our neighborhood my sister thought that it would be a good idea to start a fashion jewelry business.” This was the beginning of Bklyn (pronounced “Brooklyn”) Blingz!

Step 2: Create a business plan:

Lauren says, “…It makes it more official, especially if you want to get a loan, you have to show figures.”

Alyssa, “It’s an outline-”

Lauren interjects, “ or a projection sheet.”

Alyssa continues: “A business plan helps you see if your business is worth going out for.” The twins were a part of an amazing non-profit business organization called NFTE (a youth entrepreneur program for teens 12-18) this non-profit was pivotal in teaching all of us business and giving the girls critical PR and promotion.
Since the summer of 2006, the twins have been on ABC News Nightline, MSNBC “The Today Show”, and have been invited to numerous expos and dinner events to speak and share their story. How does this help?

Step 3: Networking

Alyssa says, “We would start wearing our earrings, bracelets, necklaces wherever we went and people would ask, ‘where did you get that jewelry from?’ It opened a door to selling our jewelry.”

Lauren says, “You have to network and promote your business. Here are some ways:

  • • Get business cards
  • • Create flyers, posters, and a video to promote your business.
  • • Create a website for customers to find out more about your business.

Alyssa adds, “Get other people’s business cards and create an email list because people might not take time to contact you but you can be the first to contact them. Also, when you meet other people you are developing your contact list; and the business cards or people you meet can be used as a resource later on in life.”
I told you I learned a lot from these young ladies. Want to learn more about business? Check out these resources:

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurs (NFTE):
http://www.nfte.com

Women’s Business Center/Business Outreach Center:
http://www.bocnet.org/boc/boc_services_womens_business_ctr.asp

NYC Business Express:
http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/businessexpress

NYC Business Solutions:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/sbs/nycbiz/html/home/home.shtml

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