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For Women Business Owners: Five Essential Resources to Help you Start, Grow and Expand Your Business

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For Women Business Owners: Five Essential Resources to Help you Start, Grow and Expand Your Business

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: September 29, 2009

There is no doubt about it - women are a rising force in American entrepreneurship.

Take these statistics from the *Center for Women's Business Research for example:

The Overall Picture: 2008-2009

  • 10.1 million firms are owned by women (75% or more), employing more than 13 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales as of 2008.
  • Three quarters of all women-owned businesses are majority owned by women (51% or more), for a total of 7.2 million firms, employing 7.3 million people, and generating $1.1 trillion in sales.
  • Women-owned firms (50% or more) account for 40% of all privately held firms.

Million Dollar Businesses

  • One in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned.
  • 3% of all women-owned firms have revenues of $1 million or more compared with 6% of men-owned firms.

(Thanks to *Sabrina Parsons, CEO of *Palo Alto Software and her excellent *Mommy CEO Blog for pointing me in the direction of these numbers.)

These are impressive statistics. And despite stereotypical gender challenges (balancing parenthood and work, overcoming discrimination, etc.) the SBA reports that women are starting businesses at more than twice the rate of male-majority-owned businesses.

However, starting and growing a business, woman-owned or not, brings its own unique challenges.

In this article from www.rollingout.com*, president and CEO of Chicago Woman Entrepreneur, Sandra Tedford, cites Four Challenges Women in Business must Overcome to Survive and Flourish*. These are:

1) Access to Capital - 'Many women don't know there are some creative ways to find capital. We have heard of angel investors and friends and family, however, we overlook the niche,;boutique' banks...' explains Tedford.

2) Staffing Issues - Despite being traditionally strong multi-taskers women business owners must 'find ways to work smarter, not harder' using outsourcing or virtual assistants.

3) Lack of Strategic Planning - Having a goal and developing a plan to get there is critical. As Tedford reminds us: 'Many small business owners have had some exposure to strategic planning in the corporate structure. Those skills are transferrable to your business. Remember those times when you had a boss and you thought about how you would do things differently.'

4) Purposeless Networking - Instead of exchanging 'a bunch of cards' and moving on, Tedford stresses the importance of having networking goals in mind before an event.

I'd like to add a fifth challenge to the list:

5) Balancing Multiple Demands - In a small business you have to do pretty much everything - marketing, financials, hiring, keeping up with new trends and market shifts - and (quite possibly the least enjoyable part of business ownership) staying on top of regulatory laws and reporting.

Helpful Resources for Women Business Owners

The good news for women business owners is that there are a host of free resources available to help them overcome many of these challenges and succeed in business.

Whether you are a home-based freelancer, a fledgling microbusiness, or an established business force, below are five essential government and non-profit resources that are all about supporting the empowerment and growth of women in business:

1) Business.gov Women-Owned Small Business Guide - Find tools and information on government programs that help women entrepreneurs start, grow and expand their businesses. Abundant with useful information, the site includes easy-to-read guides on government-backed loans (check out this nifty Loans and Grants Search Tool), business assistance and training specifically for women, business planning guides, as well as tips on compliance topics such as regulatory steps you need to follow to start your business.

Follow Business.gov on Twitter @BusinessDotGov*.

2) SCORE Women Entrepreneurs Web Site* - This portal housed on the main www.SCORE.org* Web site brings together events, articles, tips, workshops, and business tools such as this free 'Chart my Success*' business tracker tool for women entrepreneurs. Follow them on Twitter @scorementors*.

3) American Business Women's Association* - With chapters nationwide, and a host of great events for women business owners (many in collaboration with universities and renowned groups such as FranklinCovey) , ABWA promotes the success and growth of women in business through leadership, education, networking support and national recognition. Follow them on Twitter too: @ABWAHQ*.

4) National Association of Women Business Owners* - NAWBO is a membership organization that provides resources (including excellent newsletters) and networking opportunities for women in business.

5) Association of Women's Business Centers* - AWBC members represent women business owners through women business centers in rural and metropolitan communities providing support and services to a range of women business owners and entrepreneurs securing rounds of venture capital.

Many regional groups also support women in business. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for women-specific business support, networking and industry groups.

Additional Resources for Women Business Owners

  • *Resources for Women Entrepreneurs - SCORE has assembled this list of hotlinks to useful Web sites for women entrepreneurs.
  • *WomanOwned.com - Great tips, tools and networking opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
  • *National Women Business Owner's Corporation - A national not-for-profit corporation, NWBOC helps women compete for women-owned business supplier contracts with government and corporate entities through implementation of a national certification program for women business owners. Learn and apply for woman-owned business certification here.

*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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