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Enterprising Women: Practical Advice for First Time Entrepreneurs: Enterprising Women, #1

Enterprising Women: Practical Advice for First Time Entrepreneurs: Enterprising Women, #1

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Enterprising Women: Practical Advice for First Time Entrepreneurs: Enterprising Women, #1

90 pages
1 hour
Apr 1, 2021


Melina Druga interviewed nearly 100 female entrepreneurs and asked them several career defining questions including the one people don't talk about:  Did you struggle when starting your business?


The businesswomen did not disappoint, speaking candidly about failure as well as success, self doubt and what the process of launching a business taught them.

Despite coming from various walks of life and different regions of the world, the women experienced similar struggles and learned comparable lessons.

In addition, the majority were mothers, some even grandmothers, who needed to strike a balance between business and family, and most did not start their professional careers with the intent of becoming small-business owners. 


In Enterprising Women: Practical Advice for First Time Entrepreneurs, you will read advice on:

Women and business ownership

  • Discovering what type of business to open
  • The importance of business planning
  • Marketing
  • Support during difficult times
  • Asking for help
  • Taking care of yourself

You'll also read about:

  • What the process of starting a business taught the entrepreneurs
  • Struggles the entrepreneurs faced
  • The advice they give you as you begin your entrepreneurial journey
Apr 1, 2021

About the author

Melina Druga is a freelance journalist, history enthusiast and author.   She has a degree in English and certificates in publishing, social media and digital marketing.  She has worked for newspapers, online publications and small-business clients, and her portfolio contains thousands of articles, blog posts and news briefs. When not working, Melina can be found practicing yoga or indulging her inner news junkie.  She lives in Ohio with her husband, daughter and cat.

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Enterprising Women - Melina Druga


Starting your own business is one of the most empowering things you’ll ever do, especially if you’re a woman.  It’s also one of the most challenging.  Business ownership is fraught with pitfalls  ̶  lack of planning, funding, marketing skills, dedication and passion.

Entrepreneurs often only will talk about their successes, but the truth is every business struggles in its first several months.  Half of all businesses fail within the first five years. The causes of failure vary.   It could be something as simple as not having enough revenue to cover the bills, or it could be more complicated. Some business owners suffer from if you build it, they will come syndrome.  They believe all they need to do is start a website and customers will find them.  Others suffer from the employee mentality, where they are used to having a steady salary, benefits and a boss giving them instructions.

My First Business and What it Taught Me

I can speak firsthand about the pitfalls of starting a business.  I was president and co-owner of a business that failed in its first five years.  That experience was the motivation for this book.   

My husband, John, and I had talked for nearly a year about how we should go into business for ourselves; our strengths and weaknesses complement each other, and we work well together.  We began brainstorming for ideas and reading business books.  Our first idea was an editorial service, but John dismissed it because it was too close what we were already doing.  (Ironically, I now write full-time and he copy edits part-time.)  Our second idea was an online boutique, but we dismissed that because it would have been too expensive to maintain.  Finally, we settled on gift baskets.

One of a Kind Baskets opened in 2009.  It was difficult and frustrating.  Our struggles were many, and it seemed like we were constantly learning the hard way. 

We closed in July 2011.  The decision was not an easy one, and we pondered it for sometime before making it official.  Our decision was based on three factors:  We were not making the number of sales we needed to make a profit.  It was stressful on John to be working full-time in addition to working on the business.  We didn’t have the budget to compete against established gift basket companies nor could we complete against big box stores carrying gift baskets.

My interest was piqued.  I wondered about other first-time business owners experiences and how these experiences might be beneficial.  I was especially interested in women’s experiences as female successes are often overshadowed by the stereotypical businessman.

About the Entrepreneurs Who Appear in This Book

I interviewed nearly 100 women entrepreneurs as part of my research for this book.  The businesswomen spoke candidly about the inspirations for their businesses and their struggles.  They also provided advice for those wishing to follow in their footsteps. 

The interviewees came from different walks of life and different regions of the world, but they shared certain characteristics:

The majority were mothers, some grandmothers, who struggled with balancing both business and family. 

Most did not start their professional careers with the intent of starting a business. 

Ninety-five percent of them ran home-based businesses.

They learned similar lessons and experienced similar struggles. 

I conducted the interviews between August 24 and November 4, 2011.  Participants were given the choice of being interviewed via telephone or email.  Their businesses were still in operation as of the first printing of this manual in 2013 but some have since closed.

Women and Business Ownership

There were 9.9 million businesses owned by women in the United States in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  The vast majority of them, 89.5 percent, had no employees.

Women were 51.4 percent of the population 18 years old and older in 2012, but accounted for only 35.8 percent of all American businesses.  The majority of businesses in the health care and social assistance industry, education, and other services, however, were owned by women.

California had more women-owned businesses than any other state, and Los Angeles County had more women-owned businesses than any other county.

In 2017, there were more than 11.6 million women-owned businesses, according to an American Express OPEN report, generating $1.7 trillion in sales and employing 9 million people.  Of those businesses, 5.4 million were owned by women of color.

Despites women’s success in the business world, only 2 percent of venture capital funding was given to women-owned businesses, according to Harvard Business Review, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition and 2017 State of Women Owned Businesses Report.

What Type of Education Do You Need?

As more women enter the business world and become entrepreneurs, colleges and universities are seeing a need to educate students on how to become successful business owners. 

In 2011, Simmons College School of Management in Boston was the only school in the United States to offer a MBA program in entrepreneurship entirely for women.  DePaul University in Chicago launched the Women in Entrepreneurship Institute in summer 2018 and has plans to offer a course called Women Entrepreneurs.

Teresa Nelson, Ph.D., director of the program at Simmons, said women realize they won’t be spending their entire career in one workplace, so they seek other opportunities.

Students enrolled in the program are serious about starting a business.  The majority of the students, Nelson said, have services businesses in their futures.

Nelson says there isn’t one single trait that makes an entrepreneur successful, but there are several characteristics that help.  These include perseverance, thinking creatively, seeking opportunity, being able to accept failure, command of finances and being able to speak in front of a crowd. 

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