Orange County is home to the nation’s third-largest Asian population including nearly 200,000 Vietnamese-Americans. The heart of the county’s Vietnamese population is here at Westminster’s Little Saigon, an area filled with Vietnamese-owned businesses including auto repair shops, restaurants, grocery stores and nail salons.
Many of these businesses are owned by women, and bring billions of dollars in commerce to the county. The nation is discovering what we locals already know: Asian-American women have come to the forefront in entrepreneurship. In the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Business Owners, it found that more than half of the country’s Vietnamese-owned businesses were operated by women.
You must go beyond being an expert in your field
Building a business is not easy. There are numerous challenges. The hours are never-ending, you go into debt from loans, and you have to hire the right people. Even though you may be an expert in how to prepare the most delicious pho or display wizardry with your manicure skills, you must become business-knowledgeable to run a business.
Challenges faced by women business owners
Many minority- and women-owned businesses face challenges that are similar and different from most entrepreneurs. Here are a few of them:
- Raising capital: Like any start-up company, you must raise capital to build your business. This is a big obstacle for minority-owned businesses. Some sources to consider include self-funding, small business loans, money from investors (including family and friends) as well as crowdfunding.
- Research how to start, build and grow a business: You may need guidance and a mentor in developing a business plan, creating your marketing efforts and managing your finances.
- Market yourself: Many Asian entrepreneurs, including Vietnamese women, are not comfortable promoting themselves or their businesses. They often tend to be less aggressive. You will have to overcome this and develop and build marketing skills because competition can be fierce.
- Being taken seriously: Some female entrepreneurs have found that male business owners often don’t welcome them as equals. Showcase your talents and business know-how. This will greatly help, and may win them over.
Women entrepreneurs are vital to the Vietnamese community. Just look at their presence and the impact that there businesses have had in our area. Business environments may be challenging, but success often comes to well-researched entrepreneurs willing to take risks.