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Starting a Small Business/battered women shelter


hi..this coming december, i am going to be retiring after 30 years in the medical field. i am interested in the subject of establishing and running a shelter for battered women, and of course dont know how to even start or what  to do to at least a step in that direction. it would be funded by public donatons, and also would need to ask you how to let the general public know it was up and running. thank you!

First and foremost congrats on your upcoming retirement! I'd be happy to answer your question, but first I have a few of my own:

1. What motivates you to take on this project?
Are you doing this to meet a need in your community? How many shelters currently exist for this purpose in your area? Are you merely looking to give back to your community ? To want a project to busy yourself once you are retired? If you do not absolutely have an answer to this question, you may not be ready to start this project.

2.What is the mission?
Just like a business a non-for-profit must have a mission that drives it forward. What need are you trying to fill? What wrong are you trying to right? The more concise the mission the better, challenge yourself to get it down to 50 words or less. With no mission your organization will have no real direction.

3. What's your pitch?
Do you have an elevator speech? In the 2 minutes it takes you to ride down in an elevator with someone can you accurately tell them about your organization and who you are serving? The better you can articulate what you are doing the more likely others will want to get involved.

4. What role will you play?
Once you have a mission it is key to know how you will achieve it. Just like budding entrepreneurs are told to work in the type of business they are interested in launching first I highly suggest you volunteer at a battered woman's shelter to get a taste of what actually happens there on a daily basis and the needs that not to be addressed. Hands-on experience can serve you well and really get an understanding of the people you will be serving.

5. Is it really practical?
Does your community really need this type of shelter or do their existing shelters just need more volunteers? Do you possess the ability to pull if off? Fundraising for a non-for-profit is not for the faint of heart! Just because you build it does not mean they will come with their open wallets, purses, and checkbooks to help make your vision a reality. And hoping to keep the lights on based solely on donations and not having some seed capital may prove to be unsustainable. Crafting a budget
for your organization is a task that you cannot avoid. Do your research look up the costs of running such a place or volunteer at local organizations that are similar to your vision.  Consider if you really want to be creating another "job" for yourself once you retire or would you actually like to relax and then volunteer when you get "the bug"? There are many organizations in your area I am sure that could use your medical field expertise.Do you have business savvy? Have you ever run a business for yourself? Nonprofits require a practical business model just as much as a regular business does.

6. Do you have "bootstrapping skills"?
Can help your organization survive tough times financially? Are you able to run such an organization on a lean budget? Are you good with your own personal finances? Do you see those skills transferring over to your organization?

7. Who will lead and who will follow?
Do you have interested individuals currently interested in being part of the Board of Directors? What skills do they have that will lend themselves to running such an organization? Are they just as passionate about this cause as you are? You may need employees or volunteers (or both) to assist with daily operations. Because you will start out small some of your board members may also help run the day to day, but you should strive to have these roles separated as soon as you can to prevent issues in the future.

8.Are you bound to break rules?
Regardless of the legal entity you choose you will be held accountable to the laws in place for that entity. Many have specific regulations that govern how your organization can be run. Are you could at following such regulations? Do you have people who can join your staff that would help you stay accountable and in compliance?

I feel knowing the answers to these questions is a good place to start.

Additional Resources:

My Site- (if you need to follow up with me)

16 Ways to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter-

Various Fundraisers- ( highly recommend the discount cards)

Small Business Chron-  

Starting a Small Business

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Nicole Bienfang


I am a Jill-of-All-Trades. My knowledge is varied over many subjects. My main topics of interest that I have the most breadth of expertise is as follows: entrepreneurship, business, professional writing, Customer Relationship Management,networking, brand Development/image creation,basic website creation,creative brainstorming, marketing and advertising, and personal development and goal setting. There is no question I can not attempt to answer. If I don't know I have plenty of people in my network and circle of friends who I can tap into who can answer it. Realize that I might take a few days to get back to you and gather my thoughts on your subject.


I am a small business owner in the legal field, and author of an online resource site for living and visitng Chicago. I can answer questions about: running a business,debt strategies (both personal and business), legal questions, home based businesses, business plans,creatively raising capital when bank loans are not an option, marketing, advertising and anything else "that pops up" as being a question or problem small business related. My business website:

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Cornell College Alumni. Over 15 years of studying and being in business. Current small business owner.

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