Have you ever thought of having your own business? Do you have a marketable skill? Do you know how to start? Is there someone who can motivate and guide you through the process of starting your own business? These and many other questions have to be answered before taking the steps necessary to establish a business, particularly a woman-owned business.
Back in 1988, I found myself between jobs for two months. This gave me the opportunity to follow suggestions from someone who knew of my translation skills, since I had translated a couple manuals for his office. Thinking back to my freshman year at the University of Puerto Rico, I remembered how I had to translate the English textbooks for classes that were given in Spanish. The English skills I brought from high school were no match for the textbooks. My first investment was a bilingual dictionary … and the rest is history, as they say.
While working full time in Rochester, I had the opportunity to do many translations for the agencies where I was employed. Gradually, other people heard of it, and small and big translating jobs came my way. Thus, when I started my company, MAS Translation Services, I already had the beginnings of a clientele.
My next step was to name the business and register it with Monroe County. Then I got a telephone number and listed in the phone book.
After those steps were completed, I began filling out a ton of paperwork to become designated by New York state as a woman-owned business, which requires that at least 51 percent of the company is owned by the woman. There are advantages to having this designation. For example, agencies that receive state funding oftentimes consult New York’s list of women and/or minority-owned businesses when hiring for contract jobs.
When starting a business, a woman should never be afraid of seeking guidance from other successful people who may provide helpful hints. Starting a business takes capital, equipment and a space to do the work. What equipment will be needed? Is it something you can run from a corner of your kitchen or do you need office space? Are you filling a gap in services in your community? What clientele are you targeting? How do you advertise your business? Keep in mind that the best way to advertise is the quality of the job performed. It is necessary to be reliable, careful and provide the best service one is capable of.
My recommendation to any woman who has thought about being a business owner is to go ahead. There are many resources in the community to help you develop a business plan and access funding and guidance. Make an inventory of your skills, study the market and find your niche. List the resources you will need, find people who can guide you, register your business with the county, and seek designation as a woman-owned business.
The rewards of being your own boss are great, but so is the responsibility you assume. Do not be afraid — the world offers many opportunities to those who are open to them!
Baars is owner of MAS Translation Services in Rochester.