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From The Experts

We've gathered knowledgeable, dedicated divorce experts from a variety of fields to lend their advice and perspectives. Our experts include lawyers, healthcare professionals, certified professionals, and everyday women with insight into the topics that will help you stay empowered.

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After a difficult divorce, Becky Rohrer was jobless with a baby to support. Instead of re-entering the 9-to-5 world, she put all her savings into an abandoned house in Westerville, Ohio and transformed it into The College Inn Bed & Breakfast.

Becky's decision to invest in herself and start a small business opened up a whole new world for her. She boosted her self-esteem and created a flexible lifestyle that allowed her to spend precious time with her son as he was growing up.

The leap from employee to entrepreneur is challenging. Our exclusive firstwivesworld series will help you discover whether you have what it takes. As Becky Rohrer discovered, the rewards can be enormous. Being your own boss can offer you the freedom to do work you really love. It can also be the path to financial independence. While launching a venture is very time intensive and demanding, successful business owners often earn more than they would working for someone else.

If starting a small business sounds appealing, you will need a road map. Based on frontline advice from the entrepreneurs interviewed in my new book, Birthing the Elephant, here is what you should do:

Pursue your passion: Desire is a powerful motivator: It will help fuel your emotional stamina and give you the staying power to overcome the barriers you'll hit along the way. Identify a hobby or area of interest that truly excites you. Dig deep for an idea with strong business potential that you're prepared to mobilize all your resources to drive forward.

Do your homework: Inner momentum needs to be bolstered by solid research and practical planning. Probe all aspects of the market for your product or service, from its current size to its outlook for growth. Create a basic business plan. Learn about pricing. Find mentors who can guide you through SCORE, local networking events, and groups like VocationVacations, which can match you up with a seasoned business owner in your field of interest.

Assess your assets: Your previous work experience may be a springboard for your new venture. The tools and knowledge you've gained to date can all be leveraged and put to productive use in your entrepreneurial launch. List your assets in six areas: industry knowledge; business/project planning; managerial/functional skills; professionalism; contacts and networks you've developed; and your leadership style.

Ease into entrepreneurship: Starting slowly can be less taxing, both economically and emotionally. Launch a venture while keeping your day job can help you sharpen critical skills, fine-tune your product or service, and build a client base — all while boosting your income. As another approach, you can create a "freedom fund." Set aside part of every paycheck to help finance your venture. You can learn the business you want to enter as a volunteer or by teaming up with someone who has a track record in your chosen industry.

Master marketing: Of all the small-business tools you'll need, marketing is probably the most critical. Actively promoting the benefits your product or service offers to your target customers will be key to your survival. Yet most new business owners feel uncomfortable handling this aspect of their start-up and tend to avoid it. Don't make this mistake! You can boost your chances of success tremendously by taking the time to master basic marketing techniques. There are plenty of resources you can turn to, from courses at a local community college to workshops run by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

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