The Fierce Latina's Guide To Starting Your Own Business

Ready to ditch the 9-5 grind and make your side hustle your main gig? We asked the most bad-ass bosses in the biz to share what it takes to step up and out on your own—so you can turn your entrepreneurial dreams into a reality!

MORE: Money Madrinas: 12 Latinas Who Invest in Other Women

1. So You Think You've Got A Million-Dollar Idea

Will your big idea make you money?

 “Good businesses monetize the solution to a real problem that you understand exceptionally well, via personal experience or really deep research,” says Nathalie Molina Niño, co-founder and CEO at BRAVA Investments. “If you have confidence that you are sitting on those three key ingredients—problem, solution, commercial model—then you have potential.” Nely Galán, author of Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self- Reliant, and Rich in Every Way  concurs. “One of my entrepreneurs couldn’t find a Latina doll for her daughter so she started a Latina doll company."

2. Money, Money, Money, Money

How to get your idea funded

Get your pitch ready, advises Molina Niño. “People don’t fund ideas, they fund the people behind them, so get super-comfortable with selling you, and your team. Then look for grants, competitions, accelerators, and incubators that can help you with startup funding but also, and probably most important, with mentorship and connections to people who can help you turn that idea into a real business.”“We bootstrapped with our own money to start and test,” says Flores. “I always laughed when my former colleagues at Morgan Stanley would say, ‘Ask your friends and family for money.’ I would say, ‘I want your friends and family,’ because my parents were immigrants, and I was the first person in my family to go to college, so I didn’t have that. “There are also great accelerator programs that are specifically aimed at Latin women, such as AccessLatina, or women in general, such as 500 Startups," notes Catherine Cuello-Fuente, CEO, and founder of the GreenHopping app, which locates vegan-friendly and green juice bars.

3. Did You Know?

The average amount of start-up capital required by a small business owner is $10,000, according to the Wells Fargo Small Business Index.

4. Ask For Help

“You can’t do it alone,” says Galán. You have to cultivate a team of experts to help you, and in order to do that, you have to join organizations—your local chamber of commerce, entrepreneur organizations, and professional organizations in your field. You have to go to events, mingle, meet people, ask for advice. There is plenty of help out there."

5. What Not To Do

Don't spend everything you've got! “Although we started with our own money, we didn’t empty our savings accounts or use credit cards. Do not do that,” cautions Flores. “Start small and you can build it; investor money will come. I think people believe blindly in their ideas or products. It’s good not to waver, but you have to know when it’s going to make money or not. Don’t solve a problem that doesn’t exist, and make sure your market opportunity is in the billions. The hair extension market is over $5 billion.”

6. Think Big

“Yes, you have to track expenses. Yes, you have to hire slow and fire faster. Launching your own business means having a pulse on every lile detail and building a team that is as commied to those details as you are,” says Molina Niño. But the goal of any beginning is to get past it and into growth mode. And growth, like a good salsa dance, doesn’t work when you’re looking down at your toes. Growth is about vision, keeping your chin up, and dancing to the rhythms and beats that the market throws your way. The only way to survive in a business climate that changes faster than you can say MySpace, Yahoo!, or NastyGal, is to stay agile, be open to change, and keep an eye on the big picture.”

7. Don't Quit Your Day Job

Nely Galan

“Start a side hustle,” says Galán. When it starts bringing in more money than your day job, then it’s time to leave and launch officially."

8. Partner Up

Victoria Flores & Leslie Wilson of Luxe Beauty Club

“I’m lucky because my business partner is also my sister from another mister,” says Flores. “We were friends for years before we started our business and we trust each other with our lives. In a previous life, I think she was Mexican, although in this life she’s a blonde from Alabama!” Beyond personality, it’s also about practicality. “Choose someone with completely different skills than you,” says Galán.“Someone with your same work ethic and values, and just like in marriage, willing to write a prenup in case the business goes south. If not, walk away. You will hate yourself if something goes wrong and you don’t have a piece of paper that allows you to buy the business back for an agreed-upon price. No paper, no partnership.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Go On Or Give Up?

Pinterest

“If a year has gone by and you don’t see any traction, I would certainly think deeply about [closing down],” says Flores. Although it may seem like a failure, take it as a lesson for your next venture. Many successful business owners hit it big on their third or fourth time out. This was my second business as well!” Advises Galán, “Before you pull the plug, go get outside help and find out what’s wrong. Most of the time you just have to pivot. You only shut it down when you can honestly say you have done everything to make it work and all the advisers say it’s time.”She certainly followed her own advice, and it paid off. “I made no money for the first four years of my business but I did not give up,” Galán says. “I pivoted ever so slightly, and the business came back from near death and succeeded.

10. Did You Know?

Shutterstock

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), about 50 percent of start-ups fail during their first year.