Now, women own and operate more small businesses than ever before. According to Fundera, the U.S. has 12.3 million women-owned businesses, which equates to 40 percent of all U.S. companies. Furthermore, 64 percent of the women-owned businesses launched in 2019 were started by women of color.
If you’re a woman venturing into the once male-dominated world of business, you have countless resources and funding opportunities to help you succeed. By leveraging the following resources, you can give yourself a head start in a competitive arena.
Women-owned Business Certifications
One way you can set your business apart is by getting a woman-owned business certification. The Small Business Association (SBA) created this certificate to offer resources and contracts specifically for women-owned businesses. Certifications help the government reach its goal of awarding at least 5 percent of its government contracts to women-owned small businesses each year.
Third-party organizations, such as the National Women Business Owners Corporation and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, also offer their own certifications and benefits.
Government Grants and Contracts
The SBA also offers the Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) Federal Contracting program. For eligibility, at least 51 percent of your business must be owned by women who are U.S. citizens. Women must also manage daily operations and be responsible for your business’s long-term decisions.
The federal government also offers federal grants for small businesses, regardless of ownership. You may want to start your search on Grants.gov, where the government lists available and upcoming grant opportunities.
Women-owned businesses can also take advantage of private grants. Many private companies and organizations offer assistance to budding businesses, especially at the local level.
Applying for private business grants requires research, but the opportunities are endless. For example, the Amber Grant Foundation awards one women-owned business a $10,000 award every month. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant also awards 10 companies a total of $100,000 annually.
Networks and Associations
One of the best ways to find resources is by networking with other women entrepreneurs. The National Women’s Business Council is a national organization that also serves as an independent advisory council to the U.S. government. The organization holds roundtables and webinars, among other events, for its members.
The Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) is a non-profit partner of the SBA that offers training and mentorship to women business owners. Ladies Who Launch also hosts online training for women business owners. You can also find more niche groups, such as Moms and Entrepreneurs, that cater to specific subsections of women business owners. You can find additional networking opportunities here.
Online Learning and Support
Social media and other online platforms make it easier than ever for women in business to connect, support one another, and pass down their knowledge to the next generation of entrepreneurs. At little-to-no cost, you can make use of the following resources:
- The Female Social Network connects more than 100 million women from across the globe and offers data and strategy insight to help women develop successful businesses.
- SCORE offers mentoring, webinars, online courses, and an entire library of resources to help small business owners. The organization has an online resource center curated for women business owners.
- In this article, Forbes lists useful podcasts for women with big goals in business. These podcasts offer inspiration and guidance for free.
The Business World of Women
Compared to decades past, there are now far more women in business, and these women inspire others to join their ranks daily. As such, there’s now a growing number of grants, loans, and other resources for women entrepreneurs. If you need help navigating the daunting process of starting a business, don’t hesitate to contact any of the organizations discussed above.