Did you know that October is National Women’s Small Business Month? It is a time specifically set aside to recognize and celebrate the achievements of female entrepreneurs in the US (and of course around the world!).
In this post, we will talk about the barriers women have broken through, as well as the barriers we still face to finding success in the business world. There are also some helpful resources to help you along your entrepreneurial journey. We are in this together!
The Tides Are Turning
Women have overcome a multitude of barriers in our lifetime to find success and achievement. For example, did you know that women couldn’t even get a business loan till 1988? That was when the Women’s Business Ownership Act was passed. The Act was first introduced by John LaFalce, a congressman from New York whose aim was to help women succeed in business.
After the Act was passed, women were finally allowed to take out business loans in their name, without needing a male co-signer. This landmark act has helped turn the tide for women in business. Flash forward.
Today there are approximately 13 million businesses owned by women in the US. And it is estimated there are 849 new women-owned businesses open every day! Finally, women are making significant contributions to the business community. Women are aspiring entrepreneurs that can change the world!
But there are still plenty of hurdles women face. We need all the support we can get.
Why Support Female Entrepreneurs?
Women-Owned Businesses Create Jobs
Businesses owned by women employ a whopping 9 million people. According to the 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, between 2014 and 2019, employment in women’s businesses grew by 8%. This was in contrast to all businesses’ employment growing by only 2%.
Women-Owned Businesses Contribute to the Economy
The same report found that women-owned businesses earned $1.9 trillion in revenues, a rise of 21%! This is a substantial contribution to the US economy.
Women Create Collaborative Teams
Studies have shown that women are more likely to listen to their teams and provide an atmosphere for sharing and collaboration. Cooperation is typically emphasized over competition. This ability to cooperate and empathize builds stronger teams, allowing new ideas to flourish, which can ultimately lead to more innovation.
Women Excel as Leaders
But make no mistake, even though women create an open environment for their employees, they have very strong leadership skills. Women tend to think systematically/holistically and are capable of managing complexity, often problem-solving through relational knowledge.
Although men tend to communicate more assertively, women communicate in a way that does not put them above the group. In these separate ways, both men and women can be effective leaders; both are able to request the highest effort contribution.
Women Focus on the Impact of their Businesses
Profits are not always the highest priority. It was found that female leaders tend to take action steps to prevent the waste of energy, water, and raw materials, as well as proper waste management. Not only does this contribute to more efficient businesses, but this also has even larger implications for our environment!
Women Know What Women Want
Women represent 50% of the population. Yet not having control over the way businesses are run, and who they are marketed to, will lead to a disparity in the products and services produced. It is important that women capitalize on this knowledge of what women want, so we can produce those things that might be missing. Women currently own 42% of businesses in the US.. let’s make it 50%!
Women are Worth Investing In
Women-owned tech companies had a 35% higher return on investment (ROI) than those companies led by their male counterparts. This makes them prime candidates for investors. Not only do women choose less risky business decisions, but they are also more capital-efficient.
How Can We Help Support Female Entrepreneurs?
Starting a small business is no easy feat. No one should have to go it alone. But how exactly can we support each other?
Advocate for Women
Many women looking to start businesses often give up when faced with issues like childcare or the inability to get startup funding. Advocacy in these areas could help make a difference in the challenges women face. Get involved today! Some of the most common issues are:
- Affordable child care: Women know that owning a business and raising kids can be hectic. And most do not have access to affordable child care. But what can be done about this? Petitioning governmental authorities for things like paid family leave, subsidized child care, and raising the wages of childcare workers.
- Fair access to capital: The Kauffman Foundation released a report in 2018 that found that women looking to finance their startups paid higher interest rates than men. Women are less likely to receive funding in early-stage decisions from angel investors as well as financing. They were also more likely to have to put up more collateral. One study even found that investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures by attractive men. This occurred even when the pitch’s content was the same as those made by women entrepreneurs. How do we break these barriers? By investing in and funding each other. By advocating for your local legislature to make access to capital easier for women. By learning to ask for what you need, owning your accomplishments, and being persuasive. And by putting your full energy into becoming the best at what you do. Then you will never be told “no” on business loan applications again.
- Not being taken seriously: Although this may not seem to have real-world implications, this can be the most frustrating issue that faces women. You may feel like you have to be competitive, aggressive, or harsh to make it in the business world. But that’s not true.
Some of the most successful female CEOs will tell you that being true to yourself matters more. Get opinions from others, but follow your intuition about what is right for your business. You will soon develop the confidence to stand out in a crowd full of male entrepreneurs. Being a good spokesperson for women entrepreneurs is one of the most powerful ways to advocate for this cause.
Get Involved in The Community
Creating a thriving small business is a struggle. But the wonderful thing about this community is that we are here to support each other. If you’ve gained success after a hard-fought battle to grow your business, other women can benefit from your gained insights.
It is important to build a network of bold, courageous, creative, and powerful women, just like yourself. We have all had life-changing mentorship that has helped us find success in areas of our lives. Now is the time you can give back by offering your own mentorship!
You can do that by volunteering your time to struggling female entrepreneurs or mentoring them through a rough patch. If you don’t know any, join an online community like Female Founder Space or Grow Global. There are plenty of professional meetups to find like-minded entrepreneurs and mentors.
Connect with women with similar business interests. Check out the following organizations:
- National Association of Women Business Owners
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
- National Association for Female Executives
- American Business Women’s Association
- National Women’s Business Council
You can also visit your local Chamber of Commerce to see if there are any networking meetups in your community.
Invest and donate
Don’t have a lot of time to get involved in the community? Being a girl boss will do that to you. But not to worry, you can still contribute in other ways! As we’ve mentioned earlier, women tend to have a harder time securing financing for their business ventures. They may also struggle with things like affording appropriate work attire or launching their Instagram and TikTok marketing.
So here are some ways you could help:
- Investing: One of the best things you can do to support other girl bosses is by investing in female-owned businesses. If you are making more money than you know what to do with, consider offering a venture capital loan to the woman entrepreneur of your choice. Or join a cause like Kiva. Kiva is an American non-profit that allows you to micro-lend money to low-income entrepreneurs and students around the world. Please note that although it is a legit and worthy cause, lending through Kiva involves the risk of principal loss.
- Donating: There are also tons of nonprofits dedicated to helping struggling female entrepreneurs start their businesses. But before you donate, make sure to check them on Charity Navigator to see if they are a legit charity. Some wonderful charities to check out are: Dress for Success, Nontraditional Employment for Women, The Center for Women & Enterprise, and Women Venture.
- Being a patron: Contribute to women’s success by being a patron of their businesses. Support your local female-led coffee shop or clothing boutique. Or get small business financing from this female-owned business. If you’re more of an online shopper, be sure to check out this list of 100 fabulous women-owned businesses.
- Promote: Let the world know about your favorite women-owned business or how much you admire your favorite female entrepreneur! Promote women’s small businesses on social media.
Even the smallest tag or hashtag on Instagram goes a long way. Are you wearing your highly-coveted Llani shoes? Give ‘em a shoutout on the ‘gram, or tag them thanking them for their wonderful product. The more support we give each other, the more it will motivate us to lift each other. And then we will all rise!
Check Out These Helpful Resources
There is a plethora of resources for women-owned businesses out there. Let us tell you about some of the many programs that can help skyrocket you to success:
This federal agency provides lots of support, resources, training, webinars and events, and even funding programs for women entrepreneurs. To learn more about SBA business loan programs, be sure to contact us here at Coastal Kapital!
- Office of Women’s Business Ownership: Find out where your nearest Women’s Business Center is to find support and guidance as you launch your startup.
- Ascent learning: You can also benefit from online learning from the free Ascent learning platform offered through SBA. Learn in areas such as strategic marketing or how to manage sales for your new business.
- Dreambuilder: This is another online learning platform recommended through SBA. At the end of the curriculum, you will have come up with your business plan. And business plans are necessary for getting funding for your entrepreneurial ventures, not to mention they help you work out how exactly you plan to run your business.
- Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program: If you are eligible, your business could qualify to compete for government contracts. Five percent of work contracted by the government is set aside just for women like you!
There is a certification that you will need to apply for, so you will need to maintain that to be chosen for the contracted work.
This agency belongs to the U.S. Department of Commerce and focuses on promoting growth and healthy competition amongst minority-owned businesses. Amongst other initiatives, the MBDA developed Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC). This initiative was made to focus on encouraging minority female entrepreneurship.
The National Women’s Business Council is a federal advisory committee that advocates for women small business owners and entrepreneurs by giving advice and policy recommendations to the President, Congress, and SBA. They also have resources for female business owners, as well as tons of organizations you can be a part of.
Another association with plenty of resources to benefit from is NAWBO. Dues-based, this organization educates and advocates for women-owned businesses. NAWBO works to transform public policy and influence opinion makers to create change and opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Support All Year Round
Do you find yourself struggling with the challenges of owning a business? If you are ready to apply for your first business loan, we here at Coastal Kapital are here to help. Founder and CEO Kortney Murray knows all about the challenges that female-owned businesses face.
That’s why we want to support women just like you, not just for Women’s Small Business Month, but for always!