Starting a business has enough challenges of its own, but being female and starting a business has its own set of challenges. Historically, half of small businesses fail within five years. Couple that with additional biases women face in obtaining critical capital to get them started, and it's astounding that women-owned businesses are outpacing the national average. I'm hoping that by being aware of these additional obstacles, you're inspired to help a female entrepreneur that you know.
Women business owners face greater challenges obtaining funding. According to Biz2Credit's analysis, women business owners are 15% to 20% less likely to receive approval on a small business loan application. Some of this has to do with the fact that more women start retail businesses, which typically have lower revenues and higher expenses. One solution is to borrow small amounts of money to establish a track record. Another option is to apply for a microloan from a local organization such as WomenVenture.
I had the pleasure of attending the WomenVenture event in Minneapolis in November and was inspired by the organization and all they do to support women-owned businesses. They give straightforward advice to women who dream of running their own businesses. If they feel the business plan is not feasible for supporting their lifestyle, they don't sugarcoat it. They recommend that they attend classes and networking events to re-work their plan. The goal is to help women succeed.
There are many networking opportunities. One I've recently come across is called CRAVE, and it's for female entrepreneurs only. The goal is to connect business women/entrepreneurs to inspire and encourage each other. There are online networking opportunities as well as in-person events.
Despite the challenges, the stats show there's hope for the future! Between 1997 and 2013, the number of women-owned businesses has grown at 1.5 times the national average. Since 1997, women-owned businesses have added an estimated 175,000 jobs. Among men-owned and equally owned firms, employment has declined over the past six years. So women-owned firms are not only showing higher percent growth in numbers but also higher absolute growth in terms of job creation.
Once you've succeeded in starting your own business, reach out and help other women. Taryn Rose was the keynote speaker at the WomenVenture event this year. She shared her story of combining two unlikely professions, orthopedic surgeon and shoe designer, to generate more that $40 million in sales. It was inspiring to hear her describe the many obstacles she overcame to achieve her dream. She also managed to raise three children and balance a family life. Taryn's advice to other women entrepreneurs: "Failure is not an option. You will face moments where you can't take the pressure, but take a deep breath, pray or meditate, get a good night's sleep, and somehow the solution comes."
I think women are natural networkers and collaborators, which prepares them well for entrepreneurship. What can you do to help a female entrepreneur? Support women-owned businesses by offering mentoring through your local organizations. Start a networking opportunity for women in your area or online. Be an inspiration by speaking at local events or local high schools and universities. Offer an internship that allows young women to explore your career area. Encourage girls you know to pursue careers in math and science.
Leave a comment on a challenge you've faced as a female entrepreneur... and how you overcame it.