Did you know October is Women in Small Business Month? According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 11 million woman-owned businesses in the U.S. That’s 38% of all businesses, supporting nearly 9 million jobs and generating $1.6 trillion in annual revenue—something worth celebrating all year round!
But as the gender gap in business fights to close, it’s important to take this month to reflect on how you can support the cause. Awareness and visibility are just as important as concrete action. Fortunately, we’ve provided a list of myriad ways you can fly your flags for women-led businesses and female entrepreneurship.
Take a look and see how you might help out.
1. Know the facts.
Knowing what’s what in the world of women-led businesses is a great way to make sure you can make the most impact. A good place to start is the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. Key findings include:
- As of 2016, it is estimated that there are nearly 5 million minority women-owned firms (4,992,200), comprising fully 44% of women-owned firms. Collectively, minority women-owned firms employ 2 million workers and generate $344 billion in revenues.
- Since the recession, the greatest growth in the number of women-owned firms has been seen in the South. Eight of the top 10 fastest growing states and metro areas for women-owned firms are found in that region.
- Women-owned firms can be found in every single sector of the economy. In addition, over the past nine years the number of women-owned firms has increased at a rate faster than all firms in every single industry. That said, 6 in 10 (61%) women-owned firms are found in four industry sectors: personal and home services, healthcare and social assistance, professional/scientific/technical services, administrative, support, and waste management services.
2. Become a mentor for female small business owners or professionals.
Offer your professional expertise to aspiring or new female entrepreneurs. Be proactive in getting the word out through professional organizations, your own newsletter, or flyers. There might even be an organization in your area that can match you with an entrepreneur such as We.NYC or the Women Mentor Association.
3. Promote women-led businesses on social media.
Leverage your online presence to promote women-led businesses on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or wherever you share what you care about. LinkedIn would also be a great place to share content. Try posting one or two businesses a week, and talk about why you love them. Be sure to hashtag #WomenInBusiness to spread the word even further.
4. Patronize women-led businesses.
Make an effort to purchase products or services from women-led businesses. While exposure can be great for a business, there’s nothing like your cold hard cash to ensure its success. You can find women-owned businesses through the SBA 8(a) online directory.
5. Partner with a female-owned business.
Take your relationship with a female-owned business to the next level. Reach out to a female entrepreneur to see how you might mutually benefit from each other’s business—be it cross-customer exposure, product distribution, etc.
6. Donate to organizations that boost female entrepreneurship.
Dozens of organizations exist to help women-led businesses get off the ground, stay afloat, or provide services like mentoring and workshops for female entrepreneurs across the globe. And they would love to take your money! A few options include:
- Womentum: A pay-it-forward nonprofit crowdfunding platform for women entrepreneurs in developing countries. Discover entrepreneurs on their platform, donate to their initiatives for as little as $5, and get track progress of projects you back.
- Women Venture: A Minnesota-based organization that has been helping women create and grow sustainable and profitable businesses for more than three decades. Your donations will go toward WomenVenture loans for female entrepreneurs and a network of volunteers mobilized to train and mentor current and future female business owners.
- WENGlobal: A global network of international women entrepreneurs. Members come together to share knowledge, best practices, contacts, and benefit from strategic partnerships. You donation will support their events and activities to foster a community of female business owners across the globe.
- The Tory Burch Foundation: The legendary fashion brand’s foundation works to empower female entrepreneurs. Every dollar you donate directly funds programs in business education and mentorship for women who hope to one day run their own business.
- Women’s Venture Fund: Helps women’s businesses begin, grow, and prosper through various programs, financial services, and beyond. A $50 donation provides access to a newsletter of tips and advice for 50 women businesses. See what other donation amounts would provide.
7. Join a professional organization.
If you’re a female entrepreneur looking be a part of the women-led business community, see if there’s a women’s business association in your town, such as the National Association of Women Business Owners, American Business Women’s Association, or Catalyst.
8. Read a book by a female entrepreneur.
So many female entrepreneurs have generously shared their advice, vision, and success stories in great detail—it might behoove you to learn a thing or two from them! Suggestions include:
- Shark Tales: How I Turned $1000 into a Billion Dollar Business, by Barbara Corcoran: The “Shark Tank” wonder knows all-too-well the mistakes that women can make in their journey to business success, because she traveled that road herself. Corcoran walks you through her entrepreneurial journey, sharing lessons on life and business along the way.
- Become an Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are the Currency of the 21st Century, by Claudia Azula Altucher: More of a workbook than a memoir, this book provides months of daily prompts to “flex your idea muscle.” By completing these exercises, you’ll push yourself to think differently, expand your ability to problem solve, and tackle any challenge that comes your way.
- #GIRLBOSS, by Sophia Amoruso: A memoir from the NastyGal founder that shares how her personal experiences led the way to entrepreneurship. An inspiring story for any aspiring female entrepreneur who wants to make bold moves from all backgrounds.
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert: The Eat, Pray, Love writer provides a path to unleashing your creativity to help you produce quality work you care about while overcoming fears of inadequacy.
9. Give an inspiring book to aspiring female entrepreneurs you know.
Once you’re through with your own personal book club, lend our gift your favorite female-entrepreneurship themed book to your favorite current or future female entrepreneur. This will help foster community and education in women-led businesses.
10. Share your story.
Don’t be shy! If you are a woman who has started a business—be it a success or failure—tell the world all about it. The more women who talk about issues and successes in running a women-led business, the more we can all learn from them.
11. Offer workshops for aspiring female entrepreneurs.
You can be a super-mentor by offering your professional expertise to a classroom or webinar full of female entrepreneurs. Offer the class through an organization, like Skillshare, General Assembly, or your local learning annex, that has access to a network of potential pupils and help with advertising and sign-ups.
12. Host a panel about women-led businesses.
Get female entrepreneurs in a room together to talk publicly about issues and success stories in running an women-led business. Advertise on social media, create a hashtag for the event, and watch the sign-ups come flowing. You can make the panel a general topic or something specific.
13. Host a Women in Small Business networking event.
If panels aren’t yours style, just get a bunch of female entrepreneurs and professionals together in one room for drinks, snacks, and maybe some ice-breakers for business networking.
14. Advertise the month in your business’s brick-and-mortar.
Show your Women in Business pride with a banner or poster celebrating Women in Small Business Month. Sometimes awareness is all you can do, and that’s OK.
15. Offer special deals, discounts, or services in honor of the month.
A great way to support women in business is to make their lives easier in some way, even if it’s just for the month. With all the challenges female entrepreneurs face, a little something can go a long way.
16. Review women-led businesses online.
Show your support for your favorite women-led business by writing a positive note about your experience working with or patronizing their business on a review site such as Yelp, Angie’s list, or Foursqure. This will help bolster their visibility on these sites, which can often come with harsh critics.
17. Host your next event at a women-led business.
Have an event coming up? Use the SBA 8(a) business directory to find a women-led business to host it at.
18. Send a personal note to a female entrepreneur.
Let you’re the female entrepreneur in your life know how much you admire and appreciate her hard work. Send it via email or snail mail—helping brighten their day may be the push they need to tackle their next business problem.
19. Hire female professionals.
If you’re in a position to make hiring decisions, try to make the extra effort to hire women in your workplace. Sometimes, just getting the foot in the door is all a woman needs to foster the entrepreneurial spirit. And then you can say, “I knew her when….”
20. Be a female entrepreneur.
Easier said than done, of course. But if you’ve always wanted to run your own business, now’s the time to be part of one of the fastest growing business sectors in the U.S. You certainly won’t be alone in the endeavor.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to support women-led businesses. Take your pick and know that you’re doing a small part in closing the gender gap in business. Happy October!