Jean Chatzky
Author Ann Holmes says that every woman has the ability to discover, start and build a business of her own. Formerly a successfully entrepreneur herself, Ann says she is now happily retired after selling three lucrative communications companies that she started. Drawing from her own experience, as well as interviews with dozens of other successful female entrepreneurs, Ann wrote the book There's a Business in Every Woman, which offers advice for other women looking to start their own business. Ann shares with Jean some of her best advice for budding would-be business owners:

Pursue your passion. Ann says many women possess the basic skills necessary to turn their passion into a lucrative business, such as cooking, photography, landscaping or party planning. "If you have a passion, you can pursue it and you don't need a great deal of money to start," she says.

Take advantage of the many free or low-cost resources available to entrepreneurs. Ann recommends checking out your local chamber of commerce, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a network of retired business experts who offer their expertise free of charge.

Lay your financial groundwork. You don't necessarily need a lot of money to start, but make sure you have enough money, Ann says. Plan the financial aspects very carefully, identify an accountant with whom you can work with periodically and plan on being able to go at least nine to 12 months without drawing an income.

Hire a strong manager as soon as you can afford one. "You need to have a very strong person backing you up so that you can continue focusing on building the company, and they can really run, at a management level, your day-to-day operations," Ann says.

Learn to look at your company as an investment. Although it's easy to become emotionally attached to your business, Ann says women need to look ahead and plan their exit strategy. "With an investment, the goal is to get the best possible return," Ann says. "With a company, the best possible return comes when you sell it, and that's what women really need to focus on."