According to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), there are more than 10 million woman-owned firms in the United States, accounting for about 40% of all privately held businesses. Women start twice as many businesses as men.

Starting a business takes desire, motivation, talent, research and planning. It's always challenging. Before you get started, explore and evaluate your business idea, motivation and personal goals. They are vital to your success. The following suggestions will help start you out in the right direction.

Know your banker. Develop a personal relationship with your banker. Your small-business banker and branch manager should know you by name. Don't be shy about asking questions when you're ready to start a business. A banker who understands your business goals may become a trusted advisor.  

Take advantage of SCORE. The SCORE Success Blog provides information on developing, managing and maintaining a woman-owned business. SCORE mentors are also available to offer advice and assistance.  

Other support. NAWBO has a list of resources and how-to business guides. Women starting a business may also want to join professional groups and attend networking events. The SBA provides financing information and insurance advice. The SBA's  Women's Business Centers help women start and grow their businesses.  

Business plan. It's a good idea to research the variety of sample business plans and operational software available online.  

Legal structure. Consult your attorney and other advisors to determine the appropriate business structure for you, whether it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, nonprofit or limited liability company (LLC).  

Funding. Begin with your banker. If you are applying for a small-business loan, have your business plan ready, indicating how much money you will need to borrow and your plans for repayment. Be prepared to explain why you are a good risk.  

Business license. Obtain required business licenses issued by city, county and state governments.   
Employer identification number. Obtain this from the  IRS.   

State tax registration. Information is available from the California Franchise Tax Board.   

Certification. Certification as a Women's Business Enterprise may open doors to government and corporation contracts. If your business is privately held and at least 51% woman-owned, you may want to apply for the certification. Talk to your banker for more information.