Magazine Seeks Edge for Women in Business

The second issue of Woman's Enterprise magazine recently appeared on newsstands around the country. The publication out of Agoura Hills, with a shiny gold dollar sign on its cover, is strictly about women business owners.

The first two issues of the bimonthly magazine had stories about women who own a trucking company, a pie shop, a cosmetic firm, a quilting parlor and a company that produces ashtrays that trap smoke.

Other articles dealt with such topics as estate and pension planning for owners of small businesses, new products and how to sell them, getting publicity, buying a computer and researching franchises.

"We're not saying that every single nuance of business has a woman's angle," said editor Caryne Brown, formerly a senior editor at Entrepreneur magazine. "But, if there is one, we can identify it and speak to it in a way that allows them to gain a competitive edge."

Brown gives as an example the case of a woman applying for a bank loan, because many single women don't have as much equity as would a man or a married woman.

"You need to come in there prepared to show the bankers, 'OK, I don't have this and I don't have that, but I do have a smart business plan. I've done my market research and my homework, and I have these ideas in mind, and for the following reasons you need to finance me,' " she said.

Women's Entrepreneurial Spirit

More than 3.4 million women own small businesses in this country, according to Carol Crockett, director of the Office of Women's Business Ownership at the U.S. Small Business Administration in Washington.

"The entrepreneurial spirit seems to be there," Brown said. "This is the new wave of business for the U.S. in the coming decade, and women are going to lead it."

Besides telling women ways to overcome obstacles, the magazine publicizes special benefits, programs and conferences designed to help small businesswomen reach their goals. The magazine covers home businesses, small businesses, and businesses that are trying to become big.

Business profiles in the magazine include specific details about how readers can do what successful business owners have done. Most features contain background information about a business and include a practical step-by-step "how-to" section.

The small business owners featured in these stories have certain similarities.

Branching Out on Their Own

According to Crockett, "We're seeing a lot more women from the corporate world who have gained experience and want to branch out on their own, as well as single heads of household who are starting businesses, usually on a smaller scale."

These women have also been reluctant to discuss their business income.

"Our writers need to ask intrusive questions," Brown said. "There are ways to get around reluctance. What I find is that the people who are most worried about competition maybe are not that successful. The people who are the most successful sit down and tell you this cost that much and that cost this much."

The magazine eschews personality profiles. Brown believes that her readers want specifics related to money problems of a new business.

There are 150,000 copies of the current issue of Woman's Enterprise on the stands. Although a lot of entrepreneurial activity goes on locally--businesses in Studio City, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and La Crescenta have already been profiled--Brown is seeking a national focus for her magazine. And she said she expects it to go monthly within a year and a half.

Publisher Joseph Teresi expects Woman's Enterprise to reach a circulation of 800,000 copies. Teresi publishes the magazine out of his Paisano Publications, which also publishes five motorcycle and automotive magazines. Most notable among these is Easyriders, an adult bikers' magazine that features photographs of scantily clad women on motorcycles.

"I don't know much about easy riders," Brown said. "I do see these characters around here. They're quite spectacular sometimes."

Teresi, a 46-year-old Westlake resident, explained why he added a women's business publication to his lineup: "I was looking to start some new titles, and this appealed to me. Women starting businesses is a fast-growing field, and it wasn't being served. As an entrepreneur myself, I look for niches in the marketplace.

Teresi said he thinks the magazine will also appeal "to the homemakers whose children are grown up and are looking to get back into a moneymaking venture, perhaps living out here at the edge of the Valley."

So far, reader response to Woman's Enterprise has been favorable, Brown said. But its success can't accurately be gauged for at least a year. Like any of the businesses that the magazine writes about, the venture faces a high chance of failure.

"The biggest problem that many small-business people face," Brown said, "is that they have this terrific idea, and then they start doing it. Not a clue of where they're going.

"On the one hand, we can tell people who are thinking about going into business what the problems of start-up are," Brown said. "And, when we cover the larger businesses, we can give the little person a goal to shoot for."

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