This is the companion article to the 2021 Women’s Leadership Conference of Southern Oregon speech “Taking the Leap into Entrepreneurship.” Erin O’Kelley Muck spoke with women who dream of starting their own businesses. Here, she shares advice for budding entrepreneurs…

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Oprah Winfrey, Whitney Herd Wolfe, Beyonce, Arianna Huffington, Sheryl Sandberg, Martha Stewart, Yang Lan, Indra Nooyi, Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna, Debbi Fields — the list of women entrepreneurs goes on and is growing every day.

Above all, what do these incredible people have in common? Courage.

Entrepreneurship is about taking a leap of faith, and having the courage to try. Having the courage to (gasp!) fail. It’s the intersection where IDEA meets ACTION.

And it’s a total rush.

So what are the qualities of an entrepreneur?

What are the qualities of an entrepreneur? Wordcloud

Ready to dive in with inspiration? It’s always fun to start with some good reads…


Quote: “Sometimes I feel like I'm playing businesswoman. But then I realize, that's what all entrepreneurs do. We try on this role like a dress in our closet and see how it fits. The more you wear it, the more comfortable it feels.” - Erin O'Kelley Muck

Getting Started with Entrepreneurship

Step #1: Dream

You may already know what you want to do — likely something you have tons of experience in. If not, you can heed Bumble founder Whitney Wolf Herd’s advice: “Look at what is broken in society, figure out how to make it better, and then, around that, formulate a business.”

Or Sara Blakely of Spanx: “I’d never worked in fashion or retail. I just needed an undergarment that didn’t exist.”

Quote: “Empower yourself and realize the importance of contributing to the world by living your talent. Work on what you love. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.” - Catharina Bruns

Once you have an idea, it’s time to dream! This your chance to journal and brainstorm and research. Interview people you admire. Read bios. Take notes. Transport your vision from mind to paper.

Honestly, this takes time. I would plan on anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks for the getting started part…

While you’re brainstorming, there are loads of great websites with advice on what to include in a business plan (which you’ll want to create, keep reading…). It all starts with asking and answering some essential questions. Below is a solid checklist, but be aware that any of these can be a day or more in the making!

  • What will you do or offer?
  • What materials / equipment are needed?
  • Is this a solo venture or does it require a team? What are the roles? (You may need to create an organizational chart).
  • What are your mission, vision, and values?
  • Who are your competitors and what are they good at? What are they not so good at?
  • Define your competitive differences. Conduct a SWOT investigation (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).
  • Who is your target audience? Why do they come to you? What problem do you help solve?
  • Research the legal aspects: registering your business with state and city, setting up an LLC, S-Corp, or Corp, hiring contractors /employees, etc.
  • Outline the financial aspects, like which bookkeeping program you will use. What are your financial predictions? Find a tax advisor/bookkeeper/CPA. Do you need a loan or grant to get started?
  • Create your marketing plan: think about social media opportunities (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), your website, advertising (radio, print, flyers, online ads, email marketing). Plan to get the word out to friends, family and colleagues.

 Quote: “You are 100% in control of your dreams. The word impossible itself says i'm possible. So get out there and fight for what you want because it is possible.” – Kalea, KSW Social Media Management

From Kalea of KSW Social Media Management: “Inspired by my favorite Audrey Hepburn quote.”

Step #2: Create Your Business Plan

Now, pull all that dreamy info into one well-organized document, and voilà! You have your Business Plan. A streamlined plan may include:

Executive Summary

Create a one-page overview to briefly explain the business concept and vision. Include your main product or service, basic information about customers, and high-level growth plans.

Company Description

Include your mission, vision, and values. List team members and legal structure – how will your company operate and who will run it? Propose the legal structure and organization chart.

Market Research

This area highlights your industry, target market (customers, clients or donors), competitive advantages (expertise and strengths), and competitor research. It may also include your SWOT analysis.

Service Line

List your products and services, pricing structure, product lifecycle, intellectual property rights, research and development plans.

Marketing & Sales

What is the growth strategy? How will you attract and retain customers? How does a sale happen? How will you communicate with your audience?

Logistics & Operations

Include what you know: suppliers, production, facilities, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, inventory, etc.

Financial Plan

Convince the reader your business idea is stable and will be a financial success! Show a prospective outlook for the next five years.

Funding Request

If you’re asking for funding, outline the requirements. How much funding do you need over the next five years, and what will you use it for?

“I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” – Oprah Winfrey


It’s a lot of info! But it’s so essential to create a business plan whether you’re asking for funding or not. All of the above will help you find any gaps in your daydreaming, as well as new opportunities.

Want more reading? Below is a list of great resources for working on the various pieces of your business plan.

Business Plan Resources
Mission, Vision, Values Resources
Legal Resources
Competitive Research Resources
Target Audience Resources


Quote: “Have a dream, chase it down, jump over every single hurdle, and run through fire and ice to get there.” – Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder of Bumble

Step #3: Determine Roles and Organizational Structure

It’s great to think about who will do what, now and down the road. Who is in charge of sales, billing, hiring, marketing, doing, managing…? There’s a great book called The E-Myth which outlines three roles that each business owner embodies when they start out. Those roles are:

  • Entrepreneur – the visionary
  • Manager – the planer/organizer
  • Technician – the doer

The E-Myth says the majority of small businesses fail because the entrepreneur fails to get out of that technician role. They continue to be the “doer” month after month, year after year. I can personally attest to having lived this dilemma! But the good news is that once you get your systems and processes in place, you can lift yourself from that role, and catapult into the visionary female entrepreneur at the helm of your very own ship.

Here’s our favorite visual sitemap tool to help you brainstorm your business structure and roles.

TIP: When planning your organizational structure, think about the hats you wear at the onset the onset of your business, and the best ways to pass along those hats over time. Maybe it’s partnering with complementary businesses, hiring staff, paying subcontractors, using automation software… there are a lot of options to help you make the best use of your precious time.

Quote: “If you are starting your own business, the best shortcut is to find a good mentor.” - Kim Kiyosaki

Step #4: Seek Education, Coaching, and Connection

I recommend all of the following:

  • Getting a business coach for growth and development
  • Taking continuing ed classes and getting certifications
  • Attending conferences (yay Women’s Leadership Conference!)
  • Networking and meeting people

I bet all great business women are continually growing and learning how to run their businesses better. They are deepening their expertise. They are attending conferences and networking. They are reaching out.

The path of the woman entrepreneur is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be lonely… My advice? Seek those in similar industries. Ask to meet for coffee, form a club, start a social media group, or set up monthly Zoom chats. Link together and support one another.

A shortcut in entrepreneurship that I highly recommend (especially in areas that aren’t your strong suit) is getting a business coach. These savvy professionals will accelerate your plans, help you get unstuck, and pass on lessons you don’t have to learn on your own.

Here is a list of female business coaches from Southern Oregon and beyond, many of whom have spoken at the Women’s Leadership Conference:


Bonus: Things to ponder…

Quote: “The comfort zone is a nice place, but nothing grows there. Take the leap today and start your business!” - Caroline Cummings

Psychology & Logistics

The truth is… entrepreneurship is not an easy path. There is a ton of hard work. There are great days and terrible days, successes and failures. But even so, the reward is like nothing else… this gets to be your creation and contribution! When having your internal conversation with yourself about the emotional and psychological elements of entrepreneurship, think about:

  • Time commitments
  • Work / life balance
  • Sweat equity
  • Doubts and fears
  • Support systems
  • Inner strength
  • Opportunities for joy and fulfillment

Quote: "Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself." - Oprah Winfrey

Your Business Website

Our company, Ruby Slipper, specializes in WordPress website development, so we have thoughts about your website journey…

Do we think a website is a critical piece in the marketing puzzle? Yes, we do. Your website is the online repository of information that anyone can access at anytime to learn about your products, services, mission, hours, contact information, etc. It matters. But do you need to launch into a high-dollar creation when starting out? Nope!

Website Builders

If you have a fledgling business, there’s no need to create a website that costs thousands and thousands of dollars. There are a lot of online website builders out there that offer great start-out solutions. And if you’re somewhat techie, they should prove pretty easy to navigate:

And more! Here’s a great article that talks about the pros and cons of each builder. At the end they recommend WordPress.org, which in my opinion, is more of a robust power-user tool (it’s what we use at Ruby Slipper).

Website Designers

If you have reason to create a more customized site OR if you want help with one of the builders above, then it would be great to talk to a web designer or company. Interview at least three so you can get a sense of their services, pricing, and niche. It’s important to note that website development drastically ranges in cost, timelines and more. Take time selecting the partner who is right for your business!

Here are a few of our favorite women-owned and operated website developers in Southern Oregon:

The women of Ruby Slipper Designs.
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Have Questions? Get in Touch

Thank you for attending the 2021 WLC on May 7th — it was a privilege to meet you all.

And whew! This is a LOAD of info for the budding woman entrepreneur!

Have a question or comment? Or a resource to add? By all means, please reach out. Our resources are not exhaustive, and we’d love to hear from you.


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