How to Take Women-Owned Businesses to the Next Level
Over the last 30 years, women across the nation have tripled the number of businesses created to more than 11 million. While that feat deserves a standing ovation, the glass-ceiling battle is far from over.
Women-owned businesses represent 30% of all U.S. small businesses. But they’re only getting 16% of conventional small business loans and 17% of SBA loans, shows a study by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The great news is, we can all step up and do our part to support women entrepreneurs. Consider these tangible ways you can help female-led companies succeed:
Speak with your pocketbook: Be a customer.
In this new age of consumer activism, you can make a statement with your wallet. Savvy brands like Nike, Gillette and Lyft are increasingly embracing social causes to win the hearts, minds and wallets of customers.
If you want to make a difference now, support women-owned businesses large and small. Have you ever sweat through an Orangetheory Fitness class? Or maybe you proudly carry around a S’well water bottle? Both companies were founded by women.
How do you find women-owned businesses?
- Check the official list. Women Owned is a nationwide initiative that maintains a directory of businesses that have earned an official “women-owned” logo. The companies are broken down by industry, from clothing and accessories to health and wellness. Behind this project is the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the biggest certifier of female-owned businesses for the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA.
- Google it. Looking for local women-owned businesses to support? Simply do a Google search of your city in quotes and the term “women-owned business” and you should be able to get relevant links, from news articles to authoritative lists.
- Turn to Yelp. The same website we use to vet a potential dining destination and other establishments is making it easier for consumers to find female-run firms. In March 2019, the review site allowed businesses to select the designation “women-owned business” in their business profiles to let any visitors know.
Knowledge is power: Mentor female entrepreneurs.
Are you a former or current business owner and want to give back to the entrepreneur community? Consider volunteering your time to help a female founder. The options are plentiful; here are a few to consider:
- Women Business Development Center: Get paired with a woman-owned business through the center’s matchmaking service.
- SCORE: Join the nation’s largest web of volunteer business mentors. This federally funded organization pairs newer entrepreneurs with coaches who’ve been successful in business, at no cost to the entrepreneur. Mentoring services can be provided in person, by phone or online. Sign up to be a mentor here.
- Do it informally. If you’re a business owner and notice an up-and-coming female entrepreneur in your area, reach out and make a connection. It can be as simple as introducing yourself in person or via email, inviting her to a coffee sit-down, or encouraging them to join community business groups or networking events. The connection can benefit everyone involved.
Show them the money: Finance women-owned businesses.
What’s the No. 1 reason businesses die? Lack of business capital to keep the business running.
Being undercapitalized is an especially big issue for women-owned businesses. Not only are they only seeing a small slice of traditional and SBA loans, they’re also experiencing a venture-capital funding gap.
Since 1978, community lender and nonprofit CDC Small Business Finance has served the entire small business community. But we’ve specially targeted historically underrepresented groups like women entrepreneurs. We invite you to join us as we continue to support, value and invest in women-owned businesses.
As a lender focused on growing and reviving neighborhoods, we proudly serve all small business owners, especially traditionally underserved communities such as women entrepreneurs. CDC Small Business Finance provides affordable, attainable loans to business owners in all stages and sizes.
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- Video: The Role of Small Business Loans in Transforming Neighborhoods
- Don’t skip asking this essential question when researching business loans from online-only lenders