11 Million Reasons to Celebrate National Women's Small Business Month

October is National Women's Small Business Month, and there's plenty to celebrate as recent research notes major gains for women in business.

As shown in our latest infographic, there are more than 11 million woman-owned businesses in the U.S. — 38 percent of all businesses — supporting nearly nine million jobs and generating annual revenues of $1.6 trillion.

Women are gaining in major industries

Which industries are women turning to for their business endeavors? Healthcare and social services are on top, following a national trend of growth in this category — jobs for home health aides alone are expected to grow 48 percent by 2022.

Healthcare is followed closely by education services, according to a report by the National Women's Business Council. Washington, D.C., Georgia, Maryland, New Mexico and Illinois have the highest rates of woman-owned firms.

Room for growth: government contracting

But while women's achievements in small business are worth cheering for, there's still progress to be made. Woman-owned businesses received just five percent of federal contracts last year, and it took 20 years to reach that modest goal.

A record high 25.75 percent of government contracts went to small businesses in general in 2015, however, showing optimism for women who want to develop their businesses in this area. The SBA's Woman-Owned Small Business Program can help woman-owned firms gain access to government contracting opportunities.

What's next for women entrepreneurs?

Women still struggle to obtain credit and small-business funding, although women entrepreneurs tend to pay off debt faster than men. Building a strong financial foundation as a new entrepreneur is essential to long-term business health, especially for this newest generation of business owners.

And women still feel pressure to “do it all,” meaning it can be harder for them to ask for help and learn to delegate. That's why mentoring is so important: to encourage women to feel comfortable to ask for help.

Ladies, are you wondering where you fit into the small-business landscape? Take our free workshop for guidance and encouragement from women who have forged their small-business path. Then, meet with a SCORE mentor to plan your next steps toward success.

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