Starting and running a business is difficult, even when you’ve got help. But having the right financial, leadership, and small business advice resources can make the difference between you treading water and actually propelling your business forward.
Because women are still in the minority as business owners – just 29 percent of businesses are woman-owned – federal and state government entities, as well as nonprofits and other organizations, are striving to help this demographic succeed in business by offering incentives, grants, and resources geared specifically toward the female entrepreneur. If you’re a woman with a business, check out the myriad of resources available to you. They just might be the boost your business needs for success and growth.
Grants & Financing for Women
If you’re seeking funding, look for women-centric grants and loan programs before you start knocking on investors’ doors. These are open to women only, so right away you reduce the pool of people you’re competing against for funds.
Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant
Clothing line Eileen Fisher supports female entrepreneurs with its Women-Owned Business Grant program. Each year, the program awards a total of $100,000 to up to 10 recipients who are beyond the startup phase with their business, and who are looking to expand their companies to create positive social and environmental impact.
To qualify, your business must have been operating at least three years, with annual revenues under $1 million. Your business must be founded on creating environmental and social change. Applications open in April, so check for this year’s application packet then.
WomensNet Amber Grant
Each month, WomensNet awards a female entrepreneur a grant of $500, and at the end of the year, one of the 12 winners will be awarded an additional $1,000 grant through the Amber Grant. There are no stringent guidelines, other than that applicants be female and need the money to put toward developing their business idea. There is a $7 application fee, and applications are accepted each month here.
It’s worth a little investigation to find out if your state offers any financial assistance for women-owned businesses. New York State, for example, offers a Minority and Women-Owned Business Investment Fund, a $2 million equity investment fund that supports innovation, job creation and high-growth entrepreneurship in the state.
Angel investors are a tough nut to crack for any business owner, and women are definitely in the minority when it comes to being recipients of these funds: only 23 percent of the entrepreneurs that seek angel funding are women, and of those, only 19 percent receive funding. 37 Angels, however, aims to turn the tables on these statistics. Made up of more than 50 female angel investors, the investment company has a streamlined process for applicants and lets them know whether they are eligible for funding within four weeks. Those that do get funding can expect between $50 and $150,000. Start the application process here.
Professional Development Resources
Count Me In
The nonprofit Count Me In offers business resources, education and community support to help women grow their businesses to million-dollar operations. Through three different programs – Make Mine a Million $ Business, Urban Rebound and Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps, the organization strives to assist women at every level of business ownership.
Women’s Business Centers
In an effort to “level the playing field,” the Small Business Association has more than 100 Women’s Business Centers located across the US, which offer counseling, training, and small business resources.
SBA’s Women-Owned Businesses Portal
If you have a question about starting or growing a business or are looking for a mentor, the SBA’s Women-Owned Businesses Portal is a fantastic resource to assist you. There, you’ll find useful articles, online training and other resources to develop your business.
National Women Business Owners Corporation
If you’re interested in becoming certified as a woman-owned business, consider doing so through the National Women Business Owners Corporation. As a woman-owned business, you will get access to government contracting opportunities and get your business in front of more potential customers.
U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce
If you’re itching to make a difference in the landscape and politics of women-driven businesses, consider joining the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. You’ll meet other advocates for female entrepreneurship, have a say in policies and legislation and build your network.
Womensphere Venture Incubator
There are dozens of startup incubators out there, but few cater specifically to women. Even the fewer focus on women in science, technology, engineering or mathematics startups, but Womensphere Venture Incubator does just that. With both in-person events and online educational classes, the incubator is designed to help women build a solid foundation for their startups and help them launch successfully.
About the Author:
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