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Women in Business

Resources for Women Small Business Success

Last updated September 2019

In October we celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month. Kabbage is committed to providing business loans for women entrepreneurs. Here we investigate how women are contributing to the state of small business in the US, compile funding resources for women, and list especially useful resources and organizations you’ll want to have in your small business toolbox.

Do you know how your business is performing compared to others in your industry or in your state over the last month, quarter, or year? We created the Small Business Revenue Index to help you visualize how you match up with similar businesses.

More women are starting businesses than ever before. According to this article in Forbes (“Successful Women Are Starting Business. Yes, Even After 50″), the number of women-owned businesses has grown 114% compared to the overall national growth rate of 44% for all businesses. In her article, Elizabeth MacBride writes, “The investments women made in relationships and community earlier in their careers have started paying dividends. Women of professional stature over 40 have wide and deep networks, and the sensibility to use them.”

The State of Women-Owned Businesses Report for 2018, commissioned by American Express, found that there are currently 12.3 million women-owned businesses (up from 9.1 million in 2014), which employ nearly 9.2 million people (up from 7.9 million in 2014) and generate over $1.7 trillion in revenues (up from $1.4 trillion in 2014). There are several interesting facts and insights from this report, including:

  • Women business owners are powerful employers: The employment growth rate over the past 20 years was stronger for women-owned businesses than for all business: 27% vs. 13%.
  • Entrepreneurship among minority women rises out of necessity due to higher unemployment rates, long-term unemployment, and a much greater pay gap: For the last 20 years, women of color have turned to entrepreneurship at an extraordinary rate. While the number of women-owned businesses grew 114% from 1997 to 2017, firms owned by women of color grew at more than four times that rate (467%).
  • Women of color open 71% of businesses launched each day: Over the past two decades, women-owned businesses have increased their numbers by 6.2 million firms.

So if you’re a female entrepreneur, October is an ideal occasion to celebrate your successes and honor the legacies of all of the other enterprising women who are making a difference in the business world.

Here are a few examples of some inspiring women business owners who exemplify the grit and conviction required to start a business from the ground up and grow it to success.

  • Sara Blakely: Sara Blakely was 29 years old when she invested her life savings ($5,000) trying to invent a new kind of underwear that looked good under white pants. Six months later, Spanx was named as one of Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things, and now earns $250 million in annual revenues.
  • Weili Dai: Weili Dai co-founded Marvell Technology Group in 1995 with her husband; she is the only woman co-founder of an American semiconductor company.
  • Kathy Ireland: Kathy Ireland rose to fame early in her career as a supermodel, but didn’t want her future to depend on how other people thought she looked. Following the advice of Warren Buffett, who told her that housewares are a good market to be in, Kathy left the modeling world behind to start her own line of home goods and clothing. Her company is now worth $350 million.
  • Oprah Winfrey: Oprah Winfrey had a severely disadvantaged and impoverished childhood. She was able to overcome hardship, rising to fame as the host of her very own talk show. Today she’s a multimedia magnate and the first African-American billionaire.
  • Maxine Clark: Maxine Clark was 48 years old when she got the idea for a new sort of interactive store where children could make a teddy bear just the way they wanted. Many people doubted that her idea would succeed, but she took money out of her retirement account to launch Build-A-Bear Workshop. The company now has more than 400 stores worldwide.

As an inspired entrepreneur, set aside some time to work on your business each week. At the top of your list, bookmark this article to keep these resources handy to help you stay on track for growth and success.

Resources and support available for women in small business, include:

  • Small business loans for women: The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers small business loans that women-owned companies can apply for, including microloans (up to $50,000), general small business loans, and real estate & equipment loans. There are a variety of small business loan programs available, depending on your specific needs – whether you’re looking to start a business, grow your existing business, or invest in equipment or capital purchases.
  • Small business mentoring: Even though there might not be many specific small business loans for women only, female entrepreneurs can get free advice, mentoring, and support. Whether you are looking for answers to specific questions, or would like mentoring or guidance on your business plan, you can contact your local SBA Women’s Business Center. Women’s Business Centers are located throughout the U.S. as part of the SBA’s programs to help “level the playing field” for female entrepreneurs.
  • Government contracts for women-owned businesses: The SBA also offers some special programs to make it easier for women-owned businesses to compete for federal government contracts. Check out the SBA’s programs on Contracting Support for Women-Owned Small Businesses for more information on how your company can do business with the federal government. Many state governments also have programs for “supplier diversity” or other initiatives that help women-owned businesses and other historically underutilized businesses get contracts to supply products or services to state government agencies.

For more information on issues and trends affecting women-owned businesses, check out some of these useful resources and organizations:

National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO): NAWBO is an organization of women entrepreneurs that aims to promote economic development and create innovative changes in the business culture. NAWBO has local chapters in 31 states, hosts conferences, and publishes business articles and advice, such as their free twice-weekly SmartBrief e-mail newsletter.

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB): NFIB is the nation’s largest association for business owners, and many women entrepreneurs are proud members. NFIB has offices in every state, and members are encouraged to network through local events and use of the online member directory. Women-owned businesses look to NFIB for money-saving partnerships, business advice, and strong advocacy at the state and federal level.

SCORE: Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a volunteer organization that offers free advice and mentoring to small business owners. The SCORE website offers a variety of free resources, such as webinars on topics ranging from how to write a business plan to how to get funding for your business.

U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce: This is an association of women-owned businesses that serves as a lobbying and advocacy group in Washington, D.C. Check out their website for information on summits, seminars, and special meetings that help women-owned businesses grow and thrive.

Whatever business challenges you might be facing as a female entrepreneur, there are resources and supportive organizations out there that can help you! This year, let’s all have a happy and empowering celebration of National Women’s Small Business Month.

Who is your favorite woman in business? Who is a woman in business that you love to support? Follow us @KabbageInc and tell us about your favorite female founded business.

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