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Out of Our Minds
Thursday, November 18, 2004 9:48 AM
Nothing to lose, a lot to Gain
Anita Sharpe on Business

Who's the latest symbol of rugged American individualism? Hispanic women, who are starting their own businesses at a rate much greater than the U.S. average.

It's a no-brainer. While women in general earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, Hispanic women earn only 53 cents. According to a story in today's New York Times, Tina Cordova, who now owns a multi-million dollar construction company, could only find work as a waitress at a Sizzler -- despite having a master's degree in biology.

What's the secret of Cordova's entrepreneurial success? A flair for business, a very big stubborn streak and lots of flexibility. 'If I had listened to everybody who told me we wouldn't make it, of course we wouldn't be here today,' she told the Times. 'I wish I could say I had this business plan, we followed it and everything just fell into place. This is not true.'


B K Mitchell - 11/24/2004 1:07:37 AM
Because I go to Mexico and live with the people every year as an expat I have come to understand their culture in a deeper way. I think most of the women I meet in Mexico and those in the USA are happy and satisfied with where they are. These are women who seem to be patiently, steadily moving forward in a mode that you can only comprehend if you live 'On Mexican Time' a slower more peaceful journey, not filled with building a bisiness or career that is the first thing in their lives.

After 30 years as a very successful business woman in America I have come to learn another way, a way that is not about the money. A business plan to a latino woman is another beast. A beast with heart and soul. We could learn something here. I am listening. In Mexico I found an 'art' to their business approach and truly a desire to do first 'their heart's desire' above all.
Anita - 11/18/2004 6:27:28 PM
They are not a waste of time because they force you to think through lots of details. To me, the most important part of a business plan is the financial forecast and the assumptions that support the forecast. Even though you won't hit most of those numbers precisely, going through the process is an invaluable guide for what it takes -- in revenue and costs -- to make a profit. No profit = no long-term business.

My advice: get a 3-5 year forecast together before you write the plan and keep the text of the plan as concise as possible. Make sure you make a compelling argument for why the world needs your business and then outline the steps you'll take to make it happen.

Even if you deviate from the plan (and you will) and you don't plan to get outside funding, thinking through all the steps that go into making the business a reality is really important.
Mindwalker - 11/18/2004 3:31:22 PM
As a young man looking to start out on his own someday, I have to ask the obvious question re: business plans.

Almost every book and article about entrepreneurship preaches 'Thou shalt have a business plan.' Conversely, you can find just as many books and articles that essentially echo Ms. Cordova: a business plan often turns out wrong or flawed.

At their best, these real-world examples often describe business plans as 'amazing starting points' (thanks, martin!). At their worst, they almost seem irrelevant and a waste of time.

Any thoughts?
martin - 11/18/2004 10:42:24 AM
My favorite part of that piece is her quote on business plans. Having written 13 versions before starting my venture, I agree with her whole heartedly. Plans are amazing starting points, but all too often reality ends up altering our beautifully written but tragically flawed vision. (for me at least)


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