Four years ago, Linda Waitkus quit her job as store manager for a Bloomingdale’s near Washington, D.C., to open Great Dogs of Great Falls, an 1,800-square-foot pet shop with grooming services in Great Falls, Va.
When I stopped by to interview her recently, I was impressed to discover that Waitkus, now 57, made all the right moves for launching a new venture, starting with a rock-solid business plan. But what really impressed me is this: She had saved enough money outside of her retirement accounts to finance the startup.
Great Dogs started turning a profit in its first year, and Waitkus has been able to pay herself a salary. (I contributed to the cause by purchasing some treats and marrowbones for my Lab, Zena, when I popped in.)
Women have been starting businesses like mad in recent years, and at a higher rate than men, according to a report from American Express OPEN Forum. Between 1997 and 2012, the number of women-owned firms increased by 54 percent, a rate 1.5 times the national average.
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But starting a business may be even harder for women than for men, as explained in a recent Forbes.com article by Susan Coleman and Alicia Robb. Authors of a new book released by the Kaufmann Foundation, A Rising Tide: Financial Strategies for Women-Owned Firms, Coleman and Robb contend that businesses run by women face hurdles that aren't encountered by men.
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