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With the current public spotlight on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it seems that entrepreneurship amongst women is growing faster than ever.
According to Amex’s 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, 11.3 million women-owned businesses generated $1.6 trillion in revenue in 2016. As stated in the same report, 1,000 new businesses are being started by women every day—indicating a growth rate five times faster than the national average.
Despite this incredible progress, a disheartening report by Democratic members of the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee reveals that women business owners are struggling to access the same amount of business funding via business loans for women as their male counterparts.
The report finds that while women own 30% of small business in the U.S., they only receive about 4.4% of total dollars in traditional small business loans. On top of that, they are only receiving 16% of traditional loans and 17% of government-backed SBA loans. This indicates that women entrepreneurs not only get approved for business financing less often but also in smaller amounts than men.
Because of this, we want to make sure every women entrepreneur has the resources she needs to be at the top of her game. As we move closer to shattering the diminishing glass ceiling—advice, mentorship, and connection with fellow women entrepreneurs are critical for success.
From business development programs to books and podcasts, we’ve compiled a well-rounded list of information, advice, and inspiration sure to help you kickstart your entrepreneurial dreams.
Here is everything women business owners need to know to keep up and get ahead of the curve:
Ever reliable—the Small Business Administration has hundreds of resources dedicated to helping all kinds of business owners, and they offer a number of guides and programs designed for women business owners in particular.
For example, their internal organization, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, regularly hosts training programs for women entrepreneurs seeking advice on business development, business counseling, and access to federal contracts, credit, and capital. No matter which stage of growth you’re in, you can count on the SBA for helpful information and resources to support you while you start and grow your business.
The National Women’s Business Council, or NWBC, “advises on issues of impact and importance to women entrepreneurs and business owners.” The NWBC hosts accelerators, business competitions, conferences, and executive education and training programs across the country and online. Make sure to keep an eye on their calendar for events online or in cities near you.
The National Association of Women Business Owners is another national organization dedicated to reaching out to women business owners across the U.S. With the NAWBO Institute, women can access a virtual online learning platform to develop key skills and learn strategies to help take their business to next level.
For those interested in public policy and the future of women in business in the United States, you can join and support NAWBO’s government advocacy program, which aims to promote the wealth of women-led businesses at the federal level.
As of 2017, only 17% of all U.S. companies have a female founder. In response, the founders of the Female Founders Association decided to build a network dedicated to fostering the development of female entrepreneurs. The Female Founders Association seeks to build an active and supportive community of women entrepreneurs and startup founders. Currently, there’s only a Pacific Northwest chapter that hosts events and meetings, but you can apply to their online network to keep in touch with the organization.
WE NYC is a networking group for women entrepreneurs specifically in the New York City area, but has resources useful for women business owners anywhere. With a number of programs, mentors, and events, WE NYC seeks to lend a supportive hand to all women looking to start their own business.
In their effort to support women entrepreneurs, WE NYC recently opened their own crowdfunding initiative called WE Fund Crowd. We Fund Crowd, similar to GoFundMe or Kickstarter, is designed specifically for women entrepreneurs to source the funding they need. As a bonus, the New York City government promises to pledge 10% (or up to $1,000) to every We Fund Crowd user’s first campaign to get you started on the right foot.
The Lean In Network is probably the most famed network for women business owners and entrepreneurs. To join the Network, find your “circle” at the national and local level and immediately connect to hundreds of businesswomen, female politicians, women in tech, and more in this diverse organization. Founded by Sheryl Sandberg, current COO of Facebook and leading women’s rights activist, the Lean In Network is one of the largest networks for helping women find their niche and build their strengths in a variety of disciplines.
Awesome Women Entrepreneurs, or AWE, is a national organization for female professionals to connect to one another in an intimate, casual setting. Events and meetups are typically hosted in members’ homes or local businesses and have a book club-like atmosphere. AWE meetups are more like social get-togethers rather than boardroom meetings, and provide the perfect setting to chat with fellow business women about business and daily entrepreneur life.
When Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead was released in 2013, her “Lean In” philosophy would change women’s role in business forever. A successful businesswoman herself, Sandberg dedicated her book to unraveling the expectation that women in business were to follow, not lead. Lean In is the book to lean on for a healthy dose of motivation and perhaps the inspiration to start your own company.
This empowering book by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman is a practical guide to building the confidence every woman needs to go after what they want in their career. The Confidence Code provides practical steps to closing the gender gap in your workplace, supported by extensive research and personal experiences from women in all types of industries. If after reading Lean In you still need a little boost, The Confidence Code will hand it to you.
For fans of the NBC hit Shark Tank, this next author needs no introduction, but for those unfamiliar with the business pitch-based show, millionaire Barbara Corcoran is one of two entrepreneur ladies gambling to fund the next big thing.
In her book, Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business, Corcoran discusses how she came to be the business mogul she is today, with networking advice and detailed business strategies applicable to any woman interested in following Corcoran’s legacy.
A group so nice we named it twice—from excellent networking opportunities to this helpful podcast, Awesome Women Entrepreneurs has it all. The networking group’s podcast tells “the stories of how awesome women become successful entrepreneurs.” It’s hosted by Karen Bate and Evelyn Powers, who share their conversations with women who are building their business dynasties in real time.
With all types of industries represented—from animal rescue centers to accounting firms—this podcast will give you the practical advice and inspiration to start whatever your business you’ve been thinking about.
Created by and for black women business owners, Side Hustle Pro: Women Entrepreneurs is a podcast that showcases the black girl magic the business world needs. Side Hustle Pro spotlights black women entrepreneurs and their success in transforming side hustles into profitable businesses. Weekly installments feature host Nicaila Matthew Okome discussing strategy and inspiration with a variety of women in a variety of industries—this is a podcast anyone who wants to thrive in business can and should get behind.
Not for the faint of heart, Lean the F*ck Out features women leaning outside the white-collar norms of the business industry. Hosts Gretchen DeVault and Tera Wozniak Qualls discuss the entrepreneur lifestyle with successful women business owners from around the world.
With episodes titled “Mastering Google Search and SEO” and “Growing a Brewery,” you can be sure any and all topics will be up for discussion. Listen weekly for new tips on building a successful small business and maintaining a healthy entrepreneur lifestyle.
A more recent and welcome addition to the world of business podcasts is the Harvard Business Review’s Women at Work. Hosts Amy Bernstein, Sarah Green Carmichael, and Nicole Torres, all business women in their own right, focus on conversations between women in business for women in business. A weekly guest contributes to conversations about the behavior in the workplace, business acumen, and hearty advice with which women can transform their workplace lives for the better.
Sophia Amoruso’s experiences as a young female entrepreneur have been covered extensively in her autobiography and Netflix show, both aptly named Girlboss, and across headlines as the world witnessed Nasty Gal’s explosive growth and eventual demise. In 2017, Amoruso rebranded, and she now runs Girlboss, a media company that offers encouragement and resources for badass young women looking to be the boss of their own lives.
Tune in to her thoughtful podcast Girlboss Radio, where Amoroso interviews ambitious women who have forged their own way and made a name for themselves across a range of industries.
Whether you’re interested in starting your own brick-and-mortar business, finally kicking off your side-hustle, or creating your own networking group for women, we hope these 15 small business resources dedicated to women entrepreneurs motivate, inspire, and help you achieve your unique business goals.
New programs, organizations, and opportunities for women entrepreneurs are being created by women for women every day—and with the current social climate, equality in the workforce will continue to be a strong focus in the national conscious.
Know of an awesome female-centric organization, book, or podcast we may have missed? Contact us so we can keep this list current.