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Quick Guide For Women Entrepreneurs By Debra Phillips, Cynthia E. Griffin, Heather Page and Melissa Campanelli

With women launching businesses at nearly twice the nationalaverage, it's clear there's plenty of reason to beimpressed with the entrepreneurial drive of what was once dismissedas the weaker sex. Yet now that the novelty has worn off-what, wewonder, could be more natural than a woman at the helm of her ownenterprise?-it's almost easy to gloss over the significance ofsome 8.5 million woman-owned companies in the United States.

We said almost. We're not prepared to shrug in theface of accomplishment, however. Women entrepreneurs are a force tobe reckoned with, now more than ever. Don't let the apparentquiet on the affirmative-action front fool you: News flourishes inthe community that is women's small business. This particularbrand of news, though, is of the personal, day-to-day variety. Youknow-the kind of story that's your own.

"That first year [in business], I'd have nights whereI'd [think], 'What have I done? I'm going to lose myhouse; I'm going to lose everything,' " saysLaurie Kahn, 44, reflecting on her initial fears about the launchof Chicago-based Media Staffing Network in 1993. "But it'sbeen a wonderful experience."

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