You’ve always loved flooring everyone with your baking skills. The neighbour’s child relies on you for her birthday cake. Your relatives depend on you for their dessert and your family loves the smell that fills up their senses as they walk into the house.
You’ve almost always thought of taking the next step of turning your passion into a heartfelt profession. This way, not only would you be doing what you love but you’d also be playing an important role of inspiring many other women who are aspiring to become female entrepreneurs. Starting your own business isn’t just about dollops of sweat and blood. It’s about working smarter, knowing what you’re getting into and making a plan to scale obstacles before they knock you down.
Here are some insights that are sure to help any ambitious female with big dreams and goals.
Focus on what’s most important
When you start something new, it’s quite imaginable that you can get tangled up in a lot of details. After all, as an entrepreneur, almost every issue in the business is your responsibility. But this is where being focussed counts. You have to be able to separate extremely important activities from those that are just important.
Think outside the box
It’s time to throw away the box altogether. A new business hardly ever comes with a how-to manual. And if you are sure about becoming an entrepreneur, you’re going to seriously think out of the box. This is not just true for businesses that are totally uncommon but also for ventures that have been around for eons.
Network with other entrepreneurs
This is one of the most useful tips that entrepreneurs need to consider. It is one of the best ways to become successful – by becoming friends with other entrepreneurs. Starting on your own business journey is often riddled with obstacles. Networking can help you find answers quickly and even less painstakingly. The support rendered on the way provides much solace as you tread along.
The City Bank has launched the City Alo website which is a resource women entrepreneurs can utilise. The website is building a community of not just women entrepreneurs, but also people and organizations in the start-up and entrepreneurship community in Bangladesh to create a hub for support and exchange of knowledge.
There are other networking opportunities for entrepreneurs in Bangladesh right now, although most are concentrated in Dhaka. Organisations like the Asia Foundation, JCI Bangladesh, and the Association of Grassroots Women Entrepreneurs, Bangladesh hold networking events periodically for entrepreneurs to connect. There are also groups on Facebook such as Women Entrepreneurs Bangladesh where women entrepreneurs can network with one another and exchange information, obtain career advice, and check out various events.
Never give up
It’s easier said than done! But remember, starting and running a business is a long-term commitment. You need to be mentally prepared to tough it out, no matter what obstacles there may be. The lessons that you pick up during the tough times are often what will give you your edge in the future.
Have plans that are large in size
Women more often than not underestimate their own potential and fail to dream big. It is imperative for the entrepreneur in you to tap into the inner reason behind your business and really think about the legacy you want to leave behind. You need to believe that no one can do it better than you!
Using social media and the internet is key
The use of social media in Bangladesh has skyrocketed over the past five years. In 2018, Bangladesh had over 30 million active users on social media, 92.5% of whom were active on Facebook. Instagram is another medium which is on the rise with 1.8 million monthly active users. Bangladesh has a total of 91 million internet users of which 85.5 million access through mobile devices. Social media and the internet has become critical tools in marketing for entrepreneurs. Facebook has made it very easy to set up a page for businesses. There are agencies in Bangladesh who help entrepreneurs pay for promoting their content on social media since international payments are not very easy as of yet. However, the good news is that online payments within Bangladesh are very secure. Mobile payments like bKash are also very secure and fast.
For women wanting to start their businesses, here is a checklist of things you need to be aware of.
Ensure proper documentation
Starting your business in Bangladesh can be a lengthy process so it is important that you have obtained the necessary documentation to ensure you do not face delays and can concentrate on what’s important, which is running your business. The government has made a lot of the application process digital, so you do not have to physically visit government offices. The first step is to register your business with the Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC). There are guides and forms available on all the requirements and it is fairly easy to fill them up and submit them. Once your company is registered, you need to obtain a trade license. This can be done online through their website. Depending on the nature of the business, you may need to obtain other licenses as well, such as an import/export licence, factory safety certificate, etc. Finally, the business has to be registered with the tax department through their website, VATOnlineBD. Upon registration, you will receive a Business Identification Number (BIN) which you will need for tax purposes. Do not forget that you will need your own personal tax identification number (TIN) before you can apply for a BIN.
Create a business bank account
You may think that it will be okay to operate your business in the initial stages through your personal bank account, but it is imperative that you create a separate business banking account from the very start. Firstly, keeping your personal and business transactions separate is not only good for keeping more organised records, but it also helps during audits and filing tax returns. Having a business account will make it easy to set up credit card and debit card payments, as well as online payment facilities. Obtaining finance from banks and lending institutions will be easier through a business account. Finally, having a business account makes the business seem more professional. When paying suppliers or receiving money from your debtors, they will see that it is from an actual on-going business account and not a personal account.
Educate yourself about business and finances
Make sure you read up on managing your finances. If it seems tedious to do so, do not hesitate to ask for help. It will help you manage your creative life as an entrepreneur easier to navigate and make it much more rewarding. Also, do your best to find a sponsor. This is something that helps enormously when it comes to fast-tracking your learning curve at a much quicker pace.
Fortunately, there are a lot of institutions in Bangladesh right now who are working to develop business management skills for entrepreneurs. The City Bank, in partnership with North South University, has launched a certification course for women entrepreneurs to teach them business and financial management skills. Students will receive a certification upon completion of the course and be equipped with the skills necessary to run a business in Bangladesh.
TORU is an institution which mentor entrepreneurs and nurtures them to become transformative thought leaders. Entrepreneurs can attain the skills necessary for running a business in Bangladesh and get the opportunity to interact with like-minded peers as well as experts.
Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre equips young people with leadership skills to create high impact in society. Young entrepreneurs looking to obtain the necessary leadership qualities can enrol in their courses and build up their skillset.
Today, Bangladesh boasts of a number of successful women entrepreneurs who have created a niche for themselves despite the odds such as family strife, work-life balance, the guilt of being absent for their kids and more. The journey is not an easy one but it’s also not an impossible task to undertake. With the government and private sectors pitching in, this is the right time to women to wear the mantle that they’ve been waiting to don for the longest time.