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The scales are tipping for women to assume roles not only in politics and the business world, but to take it a step further and become the gatekeepers of their destiny as entrepreneurs. We have Sheryl Sandberg telling us to ‘Lean In' and Oprah reminding us to control our destinies. But is any of it helping? Are women more motivated today than they were years prior? Well, if you look at the data, I would say yes.
In the 2017 State of Women-Owned Business Report commissioned by American Express, there are an estimated 11.6 million women-owned businesses (defined as a business that is at least 51% women-owned) in the United States that employ nearly 9 million people and generate more than $1.7 trillion in revenues. If we look at this from a long-term perspective in the last 20-years, the number of women-owned businesses has grown by 114% compared to the overall National Growth Rate of 44% for all businesses. With numbers like this, does this mean the path to business-ownership for women is easy-peasy? Not necessarily.
Know the Odds:
Despite any pre-conceived notions you may have about being a woman business owner in America, the numbers are in your favor. According to the Gender-GEDI Executive Report, (a diagnostic tool that identifies the conditions that foster female entrepreneurship), found that the USA ranked number one for the overall score of the entrepreneurial environment, ecosystem, and entrepreneurial aspirations. Use analytics such as these to remind yourself that you can do this.
Own the World of Venture Capitalism:
Often women in the business world, notably when they're spearheading their own venture, feel like the road to capital is paved with roadblocks not felt by their male counterparts; especially with venture capitalists. A predominantly male-dominated arena (the number of female venture capitalists dropped 40% from 1999 to 2003) women business owners received just 2% of venture capital dollars in 2017. While change is slow, there is progress. Seek out firms that have a track record for funding women business owners. In doing so you not only have the ability to build your capital but your confidence.
Business Loans for Women:
The world of venture capitalism may not be for you or your business at this time. Rest assured that there are other options for funding your business that have women business owners in mind. Business loans for women include, and are not limited to:
- The SBA – SBA loans typically come at attractive rates (7 - 8 percent) and longer terms than other types of loans so that entrepreneurs can pay the low-cost money off over an extended period. With SBA funding, be aware of timelines. Because the federal government is involved in the funding of these loans the amount of paperwork required is more extensive and the time it takes for the funding to be approved is longer than for other types of financing.
- Online lenders – Getting small business capital through an online lender is often faster and easier than working with a traditional bank. Additionally, online loans can be unsecured (they don’t require collateral) which can be a better option for newer businesses.
- Small Business Grants for Women – Entrepreneurs can also look into applying for a small business grant. Check out Grants.Gov to see the list of available grant options awarded by the federal government. While the federal government aspect of it may not thrill you, this affords you the opportunity to have more grant options than some of the smaller guys.
NAWBO is the National Association of Women Business Owners. NAWBO is based out of the National Capital Region, but their reach far extends this area. Your first step should be to head to their website to locate a chapter near you so that you can network as well as have accurate information about the climate your business is operating within as well as available local resources. Moreover, their website has a wealth of information regarding business resources, their corporate sponsors as well as advocacy initiatives.
Stay the Course:
Needs for independence, achievement, self-fulfillment, social status, and power are continuously among the first motivators of women business owners. Hold onto that and harness it as you continue to journey of growing your business. Surround yourself with the tools, mentors, and environment that will allow you to succeed. And above all else, never stop moving forward.
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This communication is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be an advertisement, a solicitation, or constitute professional advice, including legal, financial, or tax advice, nor is StreetShares providing advice on any particular situation.