“Women entrepreneurs tend to fund their startups with different sources of funding, including ‘bootstrap’ finances (personal money from savings and credit cards) and commercial loans,” according to go4funding.com. However, there are an increasing number of grants, government, bank, and specialized programs available to women entrepreneurs.
Read on for tips and potential funding resources for women with an entrepreneurial focus:
- Don’t Start At Home: Borrowing from family or credit cards is starting in a hole that’s often filled with family dissent and recrimination. Be able to clearly assess your financial position as is, what your current liabilities are, and what your first year costs will be. Do not start by borrowing from your sister to buy stationary.
- Tell A Friend: Make sure you network. All small business strategies – not just those of women entrepreneurs – should include networking with people who fund businesses, fund businesses like the one you’re thinking of, or fund businesses owned by women.
- Become an Expert: Educate yourself in what you need, what’s there for you, or what’s left for you to do. Access and read Women Owned Business in the 21st Century by the US Department of Commerce and Statistics Administration for White House Council on Women and Girls. Or, check out The American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Business Report for deep, broad, and easy-to-read material on what it’s like out there. Read about women entrepreneurs, especially women who succeed in your business line.
- Don’t Buy Advice: In time, you’ll need a lawyer, so don’t waste money on locating lenders you can find on your own. You can get all you need from the Small Business Administration on line. ($28 million in SBA funds went to 38 women run businesses in 2009; if you do the math, that’s not much of a distribution.) Still, there are funds available through The Food and Drug Administration, National Park Service, Department of Defense, Defense Logistics Administration, and Department of Transportation, some of which have women specific web pages. Be wary of paying for advice on line, and do not give up your credit card info at workshops or conventions.
- Be A Woman: Join other women entrepreneurs who do well and solicit those who help women. Successful women business owners generously share their experience and form alliances to foster and mentor. They can be your best “angel” investors.
- The Ada Project, has to do with women in computer fields.
- Some provide micro-loans or “Amber Grants” in the neighborhood of $500-1,100.
- The McCormick Foundation offers $12,000 plus continuing financial aid for a few years.
- The Pipeline Fellowship is made up of women owners who invest in start-ups by women entrepreneurs.
- Ellen Fisher sponsored businesses with sustainability and human rights focus.
- Count Me In is a woman based, women run, woman focused organization that promotes competition for $1 million.
- The American Association of University Women has a global network of contacts for women seeking opportunity in businesses where they have been traditionally under-represented.
Opportunities abound for women entrepreneurs! Women-owned businesses grew 20.1% from 2002 to 2007. The fastest rate of growth is in education services, administrative services, and construction. Advances in construction, mining, and other heavy services appear to be inherited or partnered with spouses or other family members. Women are densely involved in health care, social assistance, personal care, dry-cleaning, landscaping, and hospitality whil the lowest densite of women-owned businesses is in finance and insurance. Where does your opportunity lie?
By Steven Schlagel