Business Ownership Guide for Female Entrepreneurs
Table of Contents
Complete Guide to Business Ownership for Female Entrepreneurs
The United States has fostered an atmosphere of ambition, ingenuity, and enterprise for decades, if not centuries, making it one of the best countries in the world for the entrepreneurially-inclined. The Global Entrepreneurship Index actually ranks the U.S. as the best country in the world for entrepreneurs — and interestingly, Delaware is considered to be the most entrepreneur-friendly state. Not only do citizens have the drive and mindset for entrepreneurship, the “prevailing social and economic ‘infrastructure’” in the U.S. is well-suited to encourage and support those who choose to strike out on their own in the business world.
More specifically, women who are interested in pursuing business ownership are in good company. Between 1997 and 2017, the number of businesses owned by women in the U.S. has increased by more than 114 percent, and the revenue earned from these businesses has doubled in the same amount of time. The modern era is possibly the best time for female entrepreneurs in all of American history.
Of course, starting a business can still be demanding, and women face a unique set of challenges when doing so that their male counterparts do not. The path to business ownership can be intimidating, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from pursuing your goals. By learning about other female entrepreneurs, the ways they overcame obstacles, and what you need to do to start your own business, you’ll be well-armed with the knowledge necessary to begin a successful career as a female entrepreneur.
Facts and Statistics about Female Entrepreneurs
Plenty of women have become entrepreneurs and found success despite, or perhaps because of, the challenges involved. Not only are their collective accomplishments incredibly impressive, they reflect the improving conditions and growing success for all women entrepreneurs in the United States.
- Between 2017 and 2018, female entrepreneurs started an average of 1,821 new businesses each day.
- The State of Women-Owned Businesses Report found that women of color own 64 percent of those newly started businesses.
- The same report found that women-owned businesses generate over $1.8 trillion in revenues in 2018.
- The report also noted that three main industries account for half of all women- owned businesses: healthcare and social assistance, professional/scientific/technical services, and other services.
- The Black Women Business Startups Report found that when looking at different races and ethnicities, black women are the only racial group who own more businesses than their male counterparts.
- The number of female veterans who own their own business increased by almost 300 percent between 2007 and 2012.
- The Women in Business survey reported that women entrepreneurs are more educated than their male counterparts. 72 percent of female business owners have a higher degree, compared to 64 percent of male business owners.
- The same survey noted that 71 percent of female-owned businesses are profitable, which is lower than the 80 percent of male-owned businesses.
- According to The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship data report, women-owned businesses are as successful as male-owned businesses when comparing business starts, growth of revenue, job creation, and the number of years in business.
- The same data report noted that mentorship plays a huge role in the success of female-owned businesses. Women entrepreneurs who work with a mentor for five or more hours per week are more likely to be successful in business, regardless of their mentor’s gender.
- Women-owned businesses collectively employ almost eight million workers, which amounts to one in seven jobs among privately-owned businesses.
- Female entrepreneurs are reportedly three times happier than women who don’t own their own business, regardless of whether that business is established or new.
Successful Female Entrepreneurs
There are thousands, if not millions, of wildly successful female entrepreneurs around the world. Each of these women started with an idea, and with patience and hard work, they were able to transform that idea into a prosperous business. Some women have transformed online media, while others have revolutionized the fashion industry — a few of them are even household names. Some of the most famous women entrepreneurs today include:
- Arianna Huffington: Huffington created a news website, The Huffington Post — now HuffPost — in 2005, which marked the beginning of her career as an entrepreneur. She has since sold the site to launch and manage Thrive Global, offer wellbeing improvement courses, and write a series of books. Her net worth is estimated to be $50 million. Her advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs is “to make sure that entrepreneurs connect with their own wisdom and creativity.”
- Cher Wang: Wang co-founded a smartphone development and vending company, HTC Corporation, in 1997. Despite a challenging market, she has remained its leader since HTC’s creation. Though her first business, Leo Computers, failed, her net worth is now roughly $1.6 billion. Men dominate the tech industry, but she continues to be one of the most influential people in tech today.
- Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw: One of the first female entrepreneurs in India, Mazumdar-Shaw co-founded biopharmaceutical company Biocon Limited in 1978 at age 25. She is also India’s only self-made female billionaire. To other women entrepreneurs, she says: “forget about all the criticism, it is going to be there. Believe in what you are doing and you will succeed.”
- Oprah Winfrey: Since beginning her career as an entrepreneur, Winfrey has founded three different companies: Harpo Productions, the Oprah WinfreyNetwork, and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. She has become one of the most famous female entrepreneurs of all time, and has worked as a media executive, actress, producer, author, and talk show host. As of January 2019, her net worth is $2.6 billion.
- Sara Blakely: Blakely invested her entire life savings into her line of shaping underwear at age 29. After facing countless rejections, her company, Spanx, skyrocketed to success once Oprah Winfrey named the undergarments as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things; her net worth is now $1.4 billion. She advises other female entrepreneurs to be “very authentic in your message, stay vulnerable, be yourself through the process.”
- Sophia Amoruso: Amoruso started her entrepreneurial career by selling vintage clothes on an eBay store called Nasty Gal in 2006. Though Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy in 2015, Amoruso has since gone on to found Girlboss Media, a website aimed at creating content to advise and empower other women. Her advice to other female entrepreneurs is to make a plan, hold others accountable for their actions and responsibilities, and to find as much support as possible.
- Yang Lan: Lan is one of the most influential women in Chinese media; her multi-platform media company spans television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. In addition to being one of the co-founders of Sun Media Group, she has worked as a talk show host and a journalist. She is widely regarded as “China’s Oprah.”
Of course, you don’t have to become a celebrity or a billionaire to be a successful female entrepreneur. In fact, many women report that increased flexibility is the primary reason they want to work for themselves; 74 percent claimed that flexibility is more important than making more money.
To become as successful, try to determine your personal goals for your business and define what entrepreneurial success smeans for you. Part of becoming an entrepreneur is going down your own path, instead of following others’ footsteps. Let these women and their journeys be an inspiration to your own efforts, rather than a rulebook you need to follow.
7 Business Ideas for Women and Mompreneurs
You can choose to start any type of business you want. You shouldn’t limit yourself based on a perceived lack of qualifications, knowledge, or business acumen. If you have an idea you’re excited about and believe in, don’t hesitate to pursue it.
Some women may want to become, or may already be, a mother. Raising a child and taking care of family responsibilities can be demanding, and finding the right balance between your family and your business may seem impossible. There are still many entrepreneurial options for women with children; many of them are highly flexible and even allow you to work from home. Business ideas that can accomodate motherhood include:
The Internet has provided numerous new business opportunities, and few are more popular than blogging. A blog is an informational website where a contributor writes posts that are then readable by other Internet users. Blogs are often informal and may even be akin to an online diary, but you can also use your blog to make money.
There are several ways to make money with your blog, but among the most lucrative is affiliate marketing, which involves selling another person or company’s products on your own site. It’s relatively simple: you put a link to that product or service on your website, your readers click it, and if they make a purchase, you receive a percentage of that sale.
How much money you can make from blogging and affiliate marketing varies greatly depending on a number of factors, such as how popular your blog is and how much effort you put into it. 10 percent of bloggers report making no income whatsoever from their blog, while 13 percent of surveyors reported making at least five figures each year from blogging. If you monetize with affiliate marketing links and make blogging a full- time job, you might be able to turn a hobby into a career.
You don’t have to go into the office to work as an accountant. Telecommuting is becoming an increasingly popular option for many bookkeepers, as much of this type of work is done online and does not always require you to be active during normal business hours. While companies may want to hire remote bookkeepers, you can also start your own online bookkeeping company. The average salary of online bookkeepers is $58,749 per year, but pay can range from $14,000 to $146,000. What you can make as a work from home bookkeeper depends on your previous experience, as well as your clientele. As you gain more clients, you can increase your earnings.
Opening a childcare facility may be an especially exciting option for mompreneurs. Not only is it easy to bring your child to work with you, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the demand for preschool and childcare directors to grow by 11 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. Also according to the BLS, the median salary for directors of childcare facilities is $47,940. You may be able to increase your earnings more dramatically working in childcare than some of the previously suggested positions. It can take time to build up a clientele as an online bookkeeper or make money from affiliate marketing, but there is always a demand for childcare.
Dropshipping or Amazon FBA
Dropshipping is another relatively popular Internet-based business venture. Dropshipping is a retail fulfilment method in which a business does not store its products; when a customer makes a purchase, a third party ships the item directly to them. You can get involved with dropshipping by acting as that third party.
The amount of money you can make with dropshipping varies greatly, as it all depends on how many (and what type of) items you sell, and how much you sell them for. This type of setup is ideal for women who can make or oversee production of a product, but don’t want to store all of their revenue personally.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a program designed to help you do just that. You simply ship the products you would like to sell to Amazon, and they pack and ship them to customers once they’ve purchased it. Amazon also provides customer service support for you. You can also look into other dropshipping platforms, such as Oberlo, or start doing it on your own.
Luckily, you can put as much time and effort into dropshipping as you like. If you want to use the Amazon FBA program to make extra cash, you can — if you want to make it your full-time job, you can do that as well. Generally speaking, the more time and effort you put into dropshipping, the more money you will make from it.
There are a variety of employment options for graphic designers. Of course, you can work in-house at a variety of organizations, but you can also be a self-employed graphic designer and work on a per-project basis. Working as a freelance graphic designer is a great option for mompreneurs who want to stay at home with their children; you can work on your project when you have the time and the hours as a contractor are incredibly flexible.
The average salary for a freelance graphic designer is about $40,000 per year. Your salary can vary greatly depending on your clients, your projects, how much you charge for your time, how long you take to complete a project, and how many projects you take on. Naturally, if you choose to charge more or take on more projects, you will make more money than if you treat graphic design as a part-time job.
You can choose to become a self-employed mompreneur and work as a photographer. No formal education is necessary (though it may be helpful), and similar to a graphic designer, you can easily work freelance as a photographer. In fact, working as a freelance photographer may be better than working as a professional photographer; while traditional positions are expected to decrease by six percent by 2026, the demand for freelance photographers is expected to increase by 12 percent.
Similar to other freelance positions, your pay can vary greatly depending on your level of experience and what type of photography you specialize in. Entry-level photographers can expect to earn anywhere from $19,850 to $76,360, though the median annual salary is $34,000. Luckily, freelance photography will give you the freedom and flexibility to decide when and how much you would like to work, and if you take on more work, you will be able to earn more.
Software development is a field that allows for flexible work hours, has plenty of work from home opportunities, and often offers higher-than-average pay. Simply put, software developers create and develop computer programs, such as mobile apps and video games. There are two main types of software developers: software applications developers and systems software developers. The main distinction comes from what they work on. While software application developers typically work on a specific program or app, systems software developers create much larger networks or underlying systems that power smaller programs.
Software developers can earn anywhere from $77,710 to $128,960 per year, depending on level of experience. Not only that, but the BLS projects 24 percent growth for software development positions between 2016 and 2026, which is significantly faster than the average of all occupations. There may be as many as 302,500 new positions available by 2026 to meet the increased demands for computer software. The high pay combined with the high demand makes software development a great choice for women entrepreneurs.
Starting a Business
There are certain financial and legal actions you must do to get your business started, regardless of what idea you decide on. All entrepreneurs have to take these steps, but for women entering the business world, it becomes even more important. Gender bias is one of the biggest, overarching challenges you may encounter when starting your business, and it can take many different forms, making it something you will likely have to deal with frequently.
It is an unfortunate reality that people may think less of you because of your gender, which can present a variety of problems when you’re looking to fund and set up your business. Not only will it help protect against the extra scrutiny you may face as a woman, proper planning will give you the tools and knowledge you need to help your business succeed.
Once you’ve picked your business idea, market research is the next thing you need to do. Market research involves gathering and analyzing information about the niche you would like to enter. This is a crucial component of business strategy, as it can help you identify potential customers and determine whether or not your business idea is feasible. You can then leverage that research to your business’ advantage.
Conduct research on your customers’ demographic information, the level of demand in and the size of your market, and any potential competitors. The information gleaned from market research can range from large-scale trends, such as your customers’ spending habits, to specific feedback about your business.
There are two primary ways to do market research: you can either do your own research or use existing resources, though neither option is perfect. Using existing resources for market research can save a lot of time and money, but isn’t very specific; some of the information may not be relevant to your business. On the other hand, doing your own research is usually much more expensive and time-consuming. One or the other — or some combination of the two — may be more useful for your business; it simply depends on your needs and available resources.
After completing your market research, you need to create a business plan. Your business plan will map out how you intend to structure and run your business. It shows what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and the thought and effort you’ve put into starting your business. Business plans typically consist of several different components, such as your business concept, marketplace analysis, and financial information.
How much of this information you choose to include is up to you, and will depend upon how you want to write your plan. Generally, there are two formats for a business plan: a traditional business plan and a lean startup plan. Both are commonly used in the modern business world, though one may be better suited to your needs. Traditional plans tend to be more comprehensive and are more useful if you want to request funding from traditional sources, while startup plans are best if you want to start your business quickly or regularly update your business plan.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a business plan. They can be incredibly useful for your business, both internally and externally. A good business plan can help you secure funding, establish the structure of your organization, and determine how and when you expect to grow. This makes it an invaluable asset both to you and anyone who may get involved with your business.
As the old saying goes, you need to spend money to make money, and this rings especially true when starting a new business. Without an initial investment, you likely won’t have the chance to get your business started.
There are a few main ways you can secure funding for your business:
- Self-funding: Also called “bootstrapping,” self-funding is when you leverage your own financial resources for your business. If you use self-funding to invest in your business, you will have complete control over it, but you will also be more vulnerable to any legal or financial threats. Further, using money from your savings or 401k can have a huge effect on the health of your finances, so if you decide to self-fund in this way, be sure to check with your financial advisor first.
- Angel Investors: Angel investors are wealthy individuals who provide capital to startups. Finding angel investors often isn’t too difficult, but convincing them to invest in your business can be tricky. Though they often provide less money than venture capital investors, angel investors may also offer to become your mentor.
- Venture Capital: Venture capitalists are wealthy individuals who also provide capital to startups, but typically in exchange for an ownership share or active role in your company. They tend to focus on companies that can grow and expand quickly, and are often willing to take larger financial risks for the possibility of higher returns. If you can get venture capital funding, it’s a great way to finance your business, but you will have to give up some control and power.
- Crowdfunding: Many business owners turn to crowdfunding to finance their venture. Crowdfunders differ from investors because they do not expect to receive a share in, or to receive financial return from, your business. This means you can obtain investments for your business while still retaining complete control over it, making this a low risk option. As an added bonus, crowdfunding can help create excitement and interest in your product before its debut — although it can be difficult to stand out from others who are also crowdfunding their business.
- Friends and Family: You can also ask your friends and family members to invest in your business. You may balk at the thought of asking your loved ones for a loan, but many successful businesses have been started with investments from friends and family members. While these loans may be interest-free, they can also strain relationships with people you care about. This is a valid way to fund your business, but you should carefully consider whether or not it’s worth mixing your business with your personal life.
- Small Business Loan: Obtaining a loan or line of credit is a tried and true way to get funding for your startup. However, you will need a thorough business plan and financial projections, as well as collateral or stellar credit history, to secure a loan. If you are approved, though, you can easily obtain a large sum and retain complete control of your business.
As with most aspiring business owners, securing enough funding is one of the biggest difficulties most women entrepreneurs face when starting their business. There is no one single or perfect way to get funding; depending on your needs and financial situation, one option may be better than another. You may even want to combine different methods to meet your funding goal, if that’s what it takes to get your business up and running.
State of Incorporation
Next, you must decide where your business will be incorporated. Whether you’re opening a retail store or building an online business, its state of incorporation will affect everything from the taxes you have to pay, to the laws you have to follow while operating your business.
Delaware, for example, is a popular state for incorporation; in fact, it’s hailed as one of the most business-friendly places in the world. Common reasons businesses choose to incorporate in Delaware include low startup costs, ease of raising capital, and flexible corporate laws. On the other hand, heavily-regulated states like California can make it more difficult to start and grow your business.
Think carefully and strategically about the state of incorporation, as it can and will affect most (if not all) aspects of your business. Keep in mind that as your business grows, you can always incorporate in other states, too.
As the owner and founder, you must also decide the structure your business will take. This will influence many aspects of your business and how you can run it, such as your taxes and your personal liability. The most common ways to structure your business include:
- Sole Proprietorship: A business is considered a sole proprietorship when you begin doing business activities without registering as any other kind of business. In a sole proprietorship, you and your business are considered the same legal entity. This does give you complete control of your business, but there are a few disadvantages of a sole proprietorship — namely, it leaves your personal assets completely unprotected. If something goes wrong with your business, people can go after both your personal and business assets.
- Partnership: A partnership is the simplest way to structure a business that has two or more owners. There are two main types of partnership, a limited partnership (LP) and limited liability partnership (LLP). In an LP, one partner has unlimited liability — in other words, they are entirely liable for the business, similar to a sole proprietor — while the others have limited liability, and though they have less control, they are more protected. In an LLP, all partners have limited liability and are even protected from the actions of other partners.
- Corporation: A corporation is a business and legal entity that is entirely separate from its owners. Corporations offer significantly more protection to your personal assets than other structures, but they are also more heavily taxed and regulated. You can also raise money more easily in a corporation by selling shares in the business. Corporations are an especially good choice for high-risk business or industries.
- Limited Liability Corporation (LLC): Though it sounds similar to a corporation, there are several key differences between corporations and LLCs to keep in mind. An LLC offers advantages of both a corporation and a sole proprietorship. Your business is a distinct entity and your personal assets are protected, but you aren’t taxed as heavily as a corporation.
Your needs as a business owner will help you determine which structure is the right fit for your business. What works well for others may not be the right choice for you. Consider the differences between similar structures, such as an LLC and a corporation, and look for clarifying information or answers to common questions about those structures, to make your decision.
Name and Registration
You also have to choose a name for your business. The name should align with your brand identity, as well as the goods and products you offer. Your name has to be unique, and you should try to select one that is free of any legal issues or red tape. You can easily check the availability of business names online.
Not only do you need to pick a name, you must also register that name. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to register your business’ name online. You may also need to register your business with different agencies at the federal, state, and local levels, depending on the type of business structure you chose. Not only will this protect your business and its name, it will ensure your business can operate legally.
Next, you will have to obtain a federal tax identification numbers. You cannot pay taxes, hire anyone, or apply for necessary business licenses without a federal tax ID number, also called an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Licenses and Permits
Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits is the final step you have to take before officially opening your business. The type and number of licenses you need will depend on your structure, location, business activities, and the laws in your area. Most likely, you will need licenses and permits from both the state and federal governments. You may also need to get permits at the local level.
Congratulations! Once you’ve gotten all of the above in order, you’re ready to launch and grow your new business.
Additional Considerations for Women Entrepreneurs
Though female entrepreneurs are increasing in numbers and their businesses are becoming increasingly profitable, women still have several unique considerations to deal with when starting a business. Depending on your attitude and reasons for pursuing entrepreneurship, these could represent hurdles to overcome, or reflect precisely why you feel business ownership is right for you. Either way, it pays to plan ahead and think beyond the logistics of opening and operating a company, to prepare for how being a business owner will affect other aspects of your life:
- Work/Life Balance: Many women may have children or dependent family members who require their time and attention. While men may also have these obligations, women are customarily responsible for taking care of their family, and may feel the need to continue in that role. Thus, female entrepreneurs may need extra time to find the right balance between their personal and professional commitments, especially when first starting a business.
- Finding Proper Support: A strong support network, both personally and professionally, is a key aspect of entrepreneurship for women. A lack of mentors, advisors, and role models, in particular, can hinder a venture’s success. Almost half of the female entrepreneurs in the tech industry cite this lack as one of the biggest challenges they have encountered. As part of your planning and research process, it can pay huge dividends to identify, reach out to, and connect with mentors who can help you on your way.
- Securing Capital: Finding investors and funding is a key challenge for all entrepreneurs, but this can be significantly more difficult for women than for men. In 2017, just 2.2 percent of venture capital went to organizations founded only by women. Without financial support, it can even more challenging for women to actually start their businesses. This is far from insurmountable, but may require extra diligence in the research and planning stages to ensure success.
Female Entrepreneurs of Color
Women of color who want to start their own business face additional potential obstacles, real or perceived, due to their race and ethnicity. In addition to the above considerations, female entrepreneurs of color may also contend with:
- Issues with Networking: Women of color may have a more difficult time networking than white women. Because both their race and gender put women of color in the minority in the business world, it can be more difficult for them make connections than it is for others.
- Smaller Peer Network: Though there are many successful female entrepreneurs of color, they make up only 3.2 percent of board seats and 11.9 percent of managerial positions. This lack of visibility can result in women entrepreneurs of color missing out on the extensive benefits of having a mentor when starting a business if they don’t prioritize networking early and often. Again, it is important to make time for outreach and engagement with all potential mentors when pursuing business ownership. One meaningful connection can have a powerfully positive impact on your own entrepreneurial aspirations.
- Racial Bias: While white women may only have to deal with gender biases, women of color may also encounter racial biases in the workplace. This double bias can make each step of the process of starting a business more difficult, but it should not dissuade anyone from pursuing their goals or breaking into the business world.
Women Veteran Entrepreneurs
Though they have been hailed as “The Future of Entrepreneurship,” female service members and veterans who want to become entrepreneurs have their own unique set of both advantages and challenges to work through:
- Veteran-Owned Businesses: Though there are 1,882,848 female veterans in the U.S., women only own 15.2 percent of all veteran-owned businesses. While reaching out to any veteran-owned small business may prove instructive, female veterans may need to put in the time to find a mentor who understands the unique experience of being a female veteran.
- Mental Health Conditions: Female veterans are more likely to experience mental health conditions after their service than both civilians and male veterans alike. By no means does this need to end or delay the pursuit of business ownership; however, it also should not be taken lightly or neglected. Operating a successful business will always depend in part on taking care of yourself, and ensuring you can strike a balance between your own needs and the needs of your company.
- Adjusting to Civilian Life: Like all service members, female veterans have to transition from life in the military back to civilian life. Just as it is invaluable for entrepreneurs to network with other business owners, veterans stand to benefit enormously by reaching out to their community of fellow servicemembers when transitioning, and beyond. Having a network of people who relate to your challenges and experiences is important both as a veteran, and an entrepreneur.
Resources for the Successful Business Woman
Whether you’re just getting started or want to take your business to the next level, there are many resources available for women in business that can help you become a successful entrepreneur. Consider the following resources for additional services and information.
Consult the following sources for more information about common business terminology:
Women Owned Business Certification
Many female entrepreneurs opt to have their businesses certified as women-owned. Some of the many benefits of this certification include obtaining government contracts, improving marketing efforts, and receiving additional resources and opportunities from the government. You may choose to self-certify, or enroll in one of the following programs:
Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program Certification is offered by the federal government. There are several requirements to qualify for this certification:
- Your business must fall under the legal definition of a “small business”;
- Your business must be at least 51 percent owned by women;
- A woman must manage the day-to-day operations of and make long-term decisions for the business;
- A woman must hold the highest position in the organization;
- This woman must work full-time during normal business hours;
Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB)
You must meet all of the above requirements, as well as the following ones, to qualify for the Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business Certification (EDWOSB):
- Your personal net worth must be less than $750,000 (excluding your primary personal residence, business equity, reinvested income from an LLC or S Corp, and retirement funds);
- The average of your adjusted growth income over three years must be $350,000 or less (excluding income that was reinvested or used to pay taxes);
- The market value of all your assets amounts to $6 million or less (excluding retirement funds);
You can self-certify at the Small Business Administration website. You can seek third party certification for these programs at:
Grants for Female Entrepreneurs
There are a number of grants available exclusively to women entrepreneurs, such as:
- The Amber Grant: Started in 1998, the Amber Grant awards smaller $2,000 grants to 12 women entrepreneurs each year before selecting one of them to receive an additional $25,000 at the end of the calendar year.
- The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award: 21 women are chosen to receive one of two prizes each year. Seven first-place winners are awarded $100,000 and one-on-one mentoring, while 14 second-place winners receive a $30,000 prize.
- The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program: In previous years, an award of $10,000 was given to 10 female entrepreneurs whose businesses had a positive social impact. They are planning to change and relaunch this grant program in 2019.
- The GirlBoss Foundation Grant: This biannual grant awards $15,000 for winners to put toward their business in the art, music, fashion, and design industries.
- The Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition: Three competitors receive a prize for winning this business competition: first place is awarded a $25,000 grant for their business, while second and third place receive $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.
You may also want to consult the federal government’s grant website, Grants.gov, to continue your search.
Startup Business Loans for Women
Some organizations also offer business loans to entrepreneurs, or offer loans designed specifically for them:
- Credibility Capital: This platform matches up small business owners with investors to help entrepreneurs find funding. Loan amounts range from $10,000 to $350,000.
- Kabbage: This online platform analyzes business data to offer personalized funding options to small business owners. Kabbage provides funding quickly and is a great choice if you don’t have great credit.
- OnDeck: OnDeck offers various financing options — such as short-term loans and lines of credit — to small business owners. In addition to personal credit, the performance of your business is one of the most important factors they consider when giving out loans.
- Small Business Administration: Though they do not provide loans themselves, the SBA works with different lenders to help small business owners obtain proper financing.
- SmartBiz: This online platform also works to pair small business owners with lenders who offer the best financing options for them. Generally, the loans they facilitate range in amount from $30,000 to $350,000.
- StreetShares: This veteran-run company helps other entrepreneurs who are veterans obtain financing for their small business. You do not have to be a veteran or have a family member who is affiliated with the military to qualify.
- QuarterSpot: This online lender provides fast funding to small business owners. QuarterSpot is another good option if you have bad or average credit. The qualifications, terms, and amount of a loan at each of these institutions can vary. Be sure to contact them directly for more information.
Resources for Women Entrepreneurs of Color
There is also support available specifically for female entrepreneurs of color and minority entrepreneurs. Consult the following resources and organizations for more information:
- 8(a) Certification Program: This program from the SBA certifies small, disadvantaged businesses as such to help them compete and succeed in the marketplace. It provides many advantages, such as training, financial assistance, and work contracts.
- The BOSS Network: This network supports and encourages women of color to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. They host events, seminars, and networking opportunities for female entrepreneurs of color.
- Digitalundivided: This organization works to support women of color to become small business owners by offering workshops and training courses.
- Latino Research Alliance: The Latino Research Alliance provides a networking avenue for Latinx small business owners to meet other entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors.
- Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA): Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the MBDA supports minority-owned small businesses with different programs, projects, and research.
- Minority Chamber of Commerce: This non-profit offers entrepreneurial training, information, and development opportunities to help strengthen and sustain minority-owned small businesses.
- National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC): The NMSDC offers economic advancement opportunities to certified, minority-owned businesses and connects them with members who may be interested in purchasing their products or investing in their business.
- Office of Native American Affairs: This SBA office provides free assistance to Native American business owners. It offers education and training in a wide array of business disciplines.
- ONABEN: This non-profit organization helps promote Indianpreneurship among Indigenous communities. They specifically work to develop the private sector on reservations and in Native American communities.
- The TechStars Foundation: The TechStars Foundation supports entrepreneurs who are part of minority groups by offering networking opportunities and grants to non-profit organizations that share their vision.
Resources for Female Veteran Entrepreneurs
See the following organizations and resources for ways that female veteran entrepreneurs can get more information and support:
- Boots to Business: Offered by the SBA, this training program helps veterans and their spouses transition from military life into business ownership.
- Center for Women Veterans (CWV): The CWV provides a wide range of support options for female veterans, including economic and business training.
- The Institute for Veterans and Military Families: In partnership with Syracuse University, this academic institute offers “innovative programs in career, vocations, and entrepreneurship education” to service members, veterans, and their spouses.
- Office of Veterans Business Development: The Office of Veterans Business Development helps service members, veterans, and their spouses hone their entrepreneurial skills.
- The State of Veteran Entrepreneurship Research: This report conducted research about the state of veteran entrepreneurship in America and suggests additional steps to help veteran entrepreneurs become more successful.
- StreetShares Foundation: In addition to providing financing to small, veteran-owned businesses, the StreetShares Foundation seeks to inspire and educate veteran entrepreneurs.
- Veteran Entrepreneur Portal: This online portal makes it easier for veteran entrepreneurs to access information, resources, and training related to business ownership.
- Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE): The V-WISE training program educates female veterans and military spouses on business skills and entrepreneurship.
- Veterans Institute for Procurement: This institute offers three different training programs for veteran entrepreneurs, all designed to help business owners meet different expansion goals.
- Women Veterans Entrepreneurship Training (WVET): WVET provides a variety of useful services to female veterans and their spouses who are entrepreneurs, including small business loans, training courses, and online workshops.
Websites and Additional Resources
For further reading and support, consider perusing the following resources for women entrepreneurs:
- American Business Women’s Association (ABWA): The ABWA connects business women from all over the country to help them grow both personally and professionally.
- Business Resources for Women: This useful list compiled by Harvard Business Services outlines different organizations and groups that may be helpful to women entrepreneurs.
- Ellevate Network: This online networking platform provides the chance for business women to connect with and support each other from all over the world.
- Female Founders Alliance: The Female Founders Alliance helps small businesses owned by women and non-binary individuals become successful through networking opportunities.
- Lean In Network: Not only does the Lean In Network offer networking circles for female entrepreneurs all over the world, they also offer programs to combat gender bias and advocate for women’s rights.
- The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO): NAWBO offers a networking platform for women entrepreneurs in the U.S. from different industries to help their ventures be as successful as possible.
- The National Association for Female Executives (NAFE): This association empowers women in business through training, networking, and advocacy to help them find personal and professional success.
- The National Women’s Business Council: This nonpartisan group offers advice on policy and “economic issues of importance to women business owners” to the President, Congress, and SBA.
- Office of Women’s Business Ownership: A branch of the SBA, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership provides education, federal contracts, and access to funding to female entrepreneurs through their various offices and programs.
- Women’s Venture Fund: This nonprofit works to “advise and empower” women who own small businesses by offering development programs, technical assistance, and funding.