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This woman opened a successful treats shop in Alabama, a state that's friendly toward businesswomen

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By ASHLEY GOODEN, WBMA

SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (CIRCA via WBMA) — Alabama ranks as the 17th-best state in the nation for female entrepreneurs, according to a study done by fitsmallbusiness.com.

Kristal Bryant, owner of K&J's Elegant Pastries in Alabaster, located about 23 miles south of Birmingham, is one woman who took advantage of economic opportunity in her state.

Which dessert should you treat yourself to today?

But here's the scoop: She's got her own business, but was hard work to get there.

"It's very challenging," Bryant said. "I work a ton of hours, you know, 70, 80 hours a week."

Because of her hard work, and her tasty treats, especially the cupcakes and the extravagant milkshakes, she's been recognized all over the state and the country. But home is where it all started.

"I started doing these cakes from home, and it turned into crazy, busy business," she said.

Bryant had some startup money and took out a loan to open her business, but if you need money to start a business right now, the partial government shutdown affects some of your options.

The Small Business Administration stopped processing new loans Dec. 22, the IRS won't answer questions about small businesses, and if you're hiring employees, you can't verify legal status. But there are some steps you can take.

"Find a need and fill it," said Reginald Smith, a business development officer for TruFund. "Once you find a need and fill it, finding a business plan and also having some support services or kind of having an advisory council around you to help you move forward in the process and get all the things you need to help you get your business off the ground."

Smith says small businesses are the heartbeat of cities such as Birmingham, and TruFund strives to help entrepreneurs. The organization is especially eager to help female entrepreneurs.

"We want to definitely do our part to assist the women in the state of Alabama to be able to obtain the funding they may need, as well as the technical assistance they need to get off the ground," Smith said.

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