If you’re a woman looking to start a business, you need to make use of all the Small Business Resources for Women.
It’s 2017, and more than two-thirds of new business owners are women. This is a huge advancement for women. Less than a century ago, women were only seen as household attendants and caretakers for children. Fast forward to the present day, and more women are running Fortune 500 companies, graduating with medical and law degrees, and entering STEM (science, engineering, technology, and mathematics) professions.
“According to the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), there were 7.8 million businesses owned by women in America in 2007. Of these, about 11.7% employ full-time workers, generating average annual receipts of over $1 million. The total revenue generated by all the women-owned businesses across the country (not considering farm-based business) has increased to $1.2 trillion. Women-owned businesses make up about 52% of all the businesses in the social and healthcare assistance arena,” says the SBA.org.
Now, I’m not saying everything is perfect for women. We still have a long way to go in many areas, such as eliminating the gender-wage gap, particularly for women of color. Many of these concerns for women are getting more women of all ages and backgrounds to start their own business. As this number grows, so does the number of small business resources for women.
As part of our Friday Women in Business series, we’ve searched the web and vetted the results to bring you the best Small Business Resources for Women.
Small Business Resources for Women – Funding Options.
If you’re planning on starting a business, there a million and ten things to consider, to apple and to set up. It can be very overwhelming. I was overwhelmed with all the information and links the internet threw back at me when I did this search. First things first, let’ start with funding. We can’t start a business without funding. It’s nearly impossible to start a business without outside funding or investors. More than likely you’ll need to take out some sort of loan to start your business or score some federal contracting dollars. The best place to start with either is the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA for short.
Small Business Resources for Women — Federal Contract Programs.
Like most paperwork for certifications, it can make you want to punch a hole in the wall. We don’t want you doing that. If you really need to get that anger and frustration out, why don’t you pick up a boxing class? Hopefully, this will make it easier for you. Here is a quick overview of the federal contract program for women.
“The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) federal contract program is designed to provide greater access to federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) by allowing contracting officers to set aside specific contracts for certified firms in an effort to achieve their statutory goal of five percent of federal contracting dollars being awarded to women-owned small businesses,” says the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC).
In order to qualify as a woman-owned business, according to APTAC your business must be:
- Considered “small” as defined by the relevant NAICS code
- Be at least 51% directly owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. Citizens
- To be deemed “Economically Disadvantaged”, owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the rule.
There are two ways to find out if you are eligible for these set-asides. You can do a self-certification through the System for Award Management (SAM) and uploading required documentation into the WOSB Program hub in the SBA’s General Login System (GLS). Once submitted, your application and documents will be reviewed, and you will be informed if you are eligible for one of the contracts.
If you’re concerned about human error or want to save time, you can apply through a third-party agency. Don’t just use any third party, use one that is certified by the SBA. Try one of the following organizations.
- The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- The National Women’s Business Owners Corporation
- The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
While you do have to pay for the services of these organization, they will ensure your application is vetted thoroughly before submission.
Small Business Resources for Women — Loans.
Do not get discouraged if you don’t qualify for federal contract funding. They’re a plenty of other options for you to get funding. Start with these websites.
- SBA Loan Program — Both the Loan Assistance and the Lender Match program are part of the SBA Loan Program with guarantees loans to most small businesses. “The agency doesn’t lend money directly to small business owners. Instead, it sets guidelines for loans made by its partnering lenders, community development organizations, and micro-lending institutions. The SBA guarantees these loans will be repaid, which eliminates some risk for the lending partners,” says the SBA. While you may be looking into doing a private loan or a loan through your bank, don’t forget to check into these two services offered by the SBA. You pay taxes, so get the most out of them and look into this program.
- SBA’s Local Assistance —This tool allows you to enter your location and find your local SBA office and other helpful resources. They cannot only give you guidance on options for loans but also help in choosing a lender. You should contact them even if you don’t need a loan, you should still contact your local office. It’s a great resource to have in case you find yourself in trouble or uncertain of a regulation, law, or anything at all. They’re the experts. Plus, a connection when starting out in business never hurts.
- SBA’s Lender Match — If you are in search of capital check out the SBA’s Lender Match tool. It will help you find SBA approved lenders. It’s an easy to use the system. You answer some questions and describe what type of financial assistance you search. Two days later, you will receive contact and background information from lenders who have expressed interest in your business. All you have to do then is compare the fees, terms, and rates and decide which lender is right for you. Once you’ve decided, you submit your application and wait for your loans.
Small Business Resources for Women — Networking.
Another reason to contact your local SBA office is to sign yourself up for the mailing lists and newsletters. You don’t want to miss out on the events and networking socials. You can learn something from speakers, but also from fellow business owners who can share some insight into what has worked and hasn’t worked for them.
Don’t stop at the SBA local office for your networking agenda. There are hundreds of ways to build your network. Here are a few websites that will prove helpful to you.
Small Business Resources for Women — Facebook and LinkedIn Groups.
You may think Facebook and LinkedIn groups are overrated, but they’re not. I promise. They can get you a lot of online impressions when you are trying to sell and promote your good or service. How much so? Facebook impression numbers can increase by upwards of 50% if you share with these groups. It will help build your audience. You can also use these groups to pose questions to other business owners in your industry, both on the local and national level depending on the types of groups you join. Be careful how much your share posts to the groups, keep it to under 30 shares a day, and take some days off sharing. If not, you risk getting banned for up to a week for spamming.
Small Business Resources for Women — American Business Women’s Association.
The American Business Women’s Association, or ABWA, is a national organization that is open to businesswomen from all industries. The organization offers leadership, educational, networking, business opportunities, and more. It also gives you and other businesswomen the chance to be recognized on the national level.
Small Business Resources for Women — BOSS Network.
The BOSS Network is a women’s empowerment organization that is designed to help women take advantage of growth opportunities and networking events that help feel women feel supported. The idea is that women business owners support each other and work towards a common goal of shared success.
Small Business Resources for Women — Business and Professional Women’s Foundation.
The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation is a national organization that works to redefine the workplace for women. They tackle topics like the gender pay gap, maternal and paternal leave, and much more.
Small Business Resources for Women — eWomenNetwork, Inc.
eWomen Network, Inc.. is committed to helping women start a business that will grow and succeed through a network of diverse and enthusiastic women business owners, corporate professionals, and entrepreneurs.
Small Business Resources for Women — ForbesWoman.
ForbesWoman was created by Forbes as a professional share space for women business owners. You can find advice on anything from career ideas and personal finance tips all the way to health and beauty news.
Small Business Resources for Women — Mompreneur Center on Entrepreneur.
Mompreneur Center on Entrepreneur was created for mom entrepreneurs to get tips and tricks to balance business and family, to manage their time, and to grow their businesses.
Small Business Resources for Women —National Organization of Women Business Owners.
“National Organization of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is an organization that represents the interests of women entrepreneurs across all industries and leverages the nation’s wide-ranging community of entrepreneurial women into an influential voice and dynamic leadership roles,” says The Balance.
Small Business Resources for Women — National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC).
National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) works to create more competition for corporate and government contracts by creating and implementing the national Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) certification program.
Small Business Resources for Women — National Women’s Business Council.
National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is a bi-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners.
Small Business Resources for Women —TED for Women.
“TED for Women, a small non-profit that provides global conferences focused on “ideas worth spreading,” has a collection of videos tagged for women that include a variety of topics that support women in small business,” says The Balance.
Small Business Resources for Women — U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
“U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce (USWCC) uses a platform of influence, innovation, and opportunity to help members grow successful businesses and careers,” says The Balance.
Sources: SBA.org, Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, The Balance