is no doubt about it – women are a rising force in American entrepreneurship.
these statistics from the Center for Women’s Business Research for example:
10.1 million firms are owned by women (75% or more), employing
more than 13 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales
as of 2008.
Three quarters of all women-owned businesses are majority
owned by women (51% or more), for a total of 7.2 million firms,
employing 7.3 million people, and generating $1.1 trillion in
firms (50% or more) account for 40% of all privately held firms.
One in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more
3% of all women-owned firms have revenues of
$1 million or more compared with 6% of men-owned firms.
are impressive statistics. And despite stereotypical gender challenges
(balancing parenthood and work, overcoming discrimination, etc.) the SBA
reports that women are starting businesses at more than twice the rate of
However, starting and
growing a business, woman-owned or not, brings its own unique challenges.
In this article from www.rollingout.com,
president and CEO of Chicago Woman Entrepreneur, Sandra Tedford, cites Four
Challenges Women in Business must Overcome to Survive and Flourish.
1) Access to Capital –
“Many women don’t know there are some creative ways to find capital. We have
heard of angel investors and friends and family, however, we overlook the
niche, ‘boutique’ banks…” explains Tedford.
2) Staffing Issues –
Despite being traditionally strong multi-taskers women business owners must
“find ways to work smarter, not harder” using outsourcing or virtual assistants.
3) Lack of Strategic Planning –
Having a goal and developing a plan to get there is critical. As Tedford
reminds us: “Many small business owners have had some exposure to strategic
planning in the corporate structure. Those skills are transferrable to your
business. Remember those times when you had a boss and you thought about how
you would do things differently.”
4) Purposeless Networking –
Instead of exchanging “a bunch of cards” and moving on, Tedford stresses the
importance of having networking goals in mind before an event.
I’d like to add a fifth
challenge to the list:
5) Balancing Multiple Demands –
In a small business you have to do pretty much everything – marketing,
financials, hiring, keeping up with new trends and market shifts – and (quite
possibly the least enjoyable part of business ownership) staying on top of
regulatory laws and reporting.
Resources for Women Business Owners
The good news for women
business owners is that there are a host of free resources available to help
them overcome many of these challenges and succeed in business.
Whether you are a
home-based freelancer, a fledgling microbusiness, or an established business
force, below are five essential government and non-profit resources that are
all about supporting the empowerment and growth of women in business:
Women-Owned Small Business Guide – Find tools and information on government
programs that help women entrepreneurs start, grow and expand their businesses.
Abundant with useful information, the site includes easy-to-read guides on
government-backed loans (check out this nifty Loans and Grants Search
business assistance and training specifically for women, business planning
guides, as well as tips on compliance topics such as
regulatory steps you need to follow to start your business.
Business.gov on Twitter @BusinessDotGov.
Women Entrepreneurs Web Site –
portal housed on the main www.SCORE.org Web
site brings together events, articles, tips, workshops, and business tools such
as this free “Chart
my Success” business tracker tool for women entrepreneurs. Follow
them on Twitter @scorementors.
Business Women’s Association – With chapters
nationwide, and a host of great events for women business owners (many in
collaboration with universities and renowned groups such as FranklinCovey) ,
ABWA promotes the success and growth of women in business through leadership, education, networking support and
national recognition. Follow them on Twitter too: @ABWAHQ.
Association of Women Business Owners – NAWBO is a membership
organization that provides resources (including excellent newsletters) and
networking opportunities for women in business.
5) Association of
Women’s Business Centers
– AWBC members represent women business owners through women business centers
in rural and metropolitan communities providing support and services to a range
of women business owners and entrepreneurs securing rounds of venture capital.
Many regional groups also
support women in business. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for
women-specific business support, networking and industry groups.
Additional Resources for Women Business Owners