Note: This blog is by Erin Andrew, Assistant Administrator for SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership
Although Women’s History Month only comes once a year, year round the SBA works to improve our outreach and services for women entrepreneurs, and to identify opportunities to empower women entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses. As a part of this effort, we continue to counsel and train roughly 500,000 women through SBA’s extensive resource partner network, including our Women’s Business Centers.
We are ready to hit the ground running with several key events for Women’s History Month and invite you to join the conversation:
- Twitter Chat on ‘Office Hours’ - March 12 from 2-3pm ET | Hashtag #AskSBA
- Twitter Chat on ‘STEM and Growing Hi–Tech Firms’- March 24th 2-2:30 ET
We also are committed to continuing to identify opportunities to the challenges they continue to face. As Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, I have met women entrepreneurs around the country and they’ve told me about the challenges they face including access to capital, access to markets, and limited resources to scale their businesses.
To address these challenges, SBA continues to work with the National Women’s Business Council to identify opportunities to empower women entrepreneurs as they access capital, access markets and to take their businesses to scale. Let’s start with access to capital. SBA continues to help provide access to capital opportunities for women. More than 25 years ago, women still needed a male relative to co-sign a loan for commercial credit. We’ve come a long way. Between January 2009 and December 2013, SBA made 57,831 loans worth $17.2 billion to women-owned businesses. In 2013 alone, SBA made $3.8 billion in capital available to women, a 31% increase since 2009. SBA has also improved its policies around underwriting loans worth $350,000 or less, which will allow for more loans to women-owned businesses.
This is important because among nascent women-owned firms with employees, over 50% started with less than $10,000 in capital. When looking at self-employed women (i.e., those without employees), that percentage soars to 89%. Across all women-owned businesses, this averages out to 84% that start with less than $10,000. However, among women-owned firms that received loans from the government, only 25% started with less than $10,000. And among firms that received government-backed loans, such as SBA’s 7a program, only 10% started with less than $10,000. Women are accessing more capital, but we can still do better.
Although we’ve worked hard, there is more to be done. We look forward to leading the charge to help even more women entrepreneurs by bridging the gaps and creating more business-to-business partnerships that support entrepreneurship for women. Women’s History Month is an important celebration and we are thankful to the many strides women have made. However, we plan to make this a commitment that goes beyond the celebration of one month.
We need women entrepreneurs to thrive with their diversity of product in the government market space, we need them to grow with additional opportunities for access to capital and we need them to scale their businesses to create jobs and fuel the American economy. Please join us this month and throughout the year as we move the needle forward on empowering and growing women entrepreneurs as they strengthen America’s economy.
Sharing what you dig and what you don’t is nothing new, but today this consumer word-of-mouth happens at lightning speed online, in the form of reviews. What’s more is that in a recent national survey, 85% of consumers said that they read online reviews about local businesses. With that in mind, Yelp and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched the Success With Online Reviews initiative to help America’s small businesses successfully engage with online reviewers.
The kickoff event was held this past week at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) where local business owners were invited to learn online marketing insights from a panel of business owner experts and reviewers from Yelp's Elite squad. The panelists included Pam Nelson of Butter Lane Cupcakes, Michael Brau of Dorado Tacos, and Jay Sofer of Lockbusters (who also holds the title of most reviewed locksmith in New York on Yelp). During the interactive session, attendees learned several key points including what motivates online reviewers to write as well as the impact of customer service on ratings -- it turns out the highest rated businesses tend to be focused on providing a great customer experience. Another pearl of wisdom from the panelists was that consumers actually like it when business owners respond to their online reviews.
In the coming months Yelp and the SBA will bring these local expert workshops to several key cities around the country, as well as host a series of webinars which begins on February 11th at 2PM EST. For additional dates, times, and workshop locations be sure to check out www.sba.gov/onlinereviews.
The Success With Online Reviews initiative will run through National Small Business Week (May 12-16).
Nearly every day, we post a new blog article on a helpful “how-to” topic for small business owners. Recognizing that as a small business owner, you’re strapped for time and don’t always have the personnel to research the “business” side of things, our goal is to provide you with easy to understand information. Out of the countless articles we wrote in 2013, here are the top five that you read the most. This year’s winner was a runaway hit.
ChallengeHER: Creating Procurement Access and Opportunity for Women-Owned Small Businesses
- 26,039 views
5 Ways to Start a Business Plan
- 32,837 views
Small Business Tax Incentives in the Fiscal Cliff Deal
- 33,919 views
6 Step Guide- How to Get a Business Loan
- 36,749 views
And the top blog of 2013 is…
Note: This post is from Dennis Alvord, executive director of BusinessUSA
Today, BusinessUSA turns two years old.
On October 28, 2011, President Obama signed a memorandum aimed at making it easier for America’s small businesses and exporters to access government services. In the memo, the President cited a need to have “a government that wisely allocates its scarce resources to maximize efficiency and effectiveness, so that it can best support American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth.”
And so BusinessUSA was born. The site has come a long way since the President instructed federal agencies and departments, led by the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration to build BusinessUSA. Here are just a few of the highlights of BusinessUSA’s first two years.
Designed around your business, not government agencies: Redesigned in November 2012, BusinessUSA was completely remade to give users the opportunity to find programs and services that fit their needs, without having to know which agency manages the program. Entrepreneurs looking to get help starting their business can try our Start a Business tool. Established businesses interested in beginning to sell their goods overseas can use our Begin Exporting tool. Veterans looking for programs that can help them realize their dreams of owning a small business can use our Veterans Resources tool. And for businesses looking for information about the Affordable Care Act, BusinessUSA provides health care information based on your specific situation.
Expanded roster of resources available to help business owners: At launch, the site included 297 resources from federal agencies. Today, the site includes 2,575 grants, loans, training programs, and other helpful offerings from the federal, state, and local entities.
Seamless access on your desktop, phone, or tablet: BusinessUSA was one of the first government websites to recognize the new ways people were using the web. We wanted users to be able to take us on the go, and get their questions answered when they needed, where they needed. So we created a responsive design that offers the same, rich experience on your smartphone or other mobile device that you would get on a laptop or desktop computer.
BusinessUSA has grown up a lot in the past two years. Everything we’ve done has been to make it easier for entrepreneurs and business owners to navigate the federal government.
We’re proud of what we’ve done, but we’re not stopping there. So here’s to a great first two years and to many more years to come.
For more information about BusinessUSA, or to try out any of the tools mentioned, visit BusinessUSA.gov.