The National Women's Business Council estimates that there are more than 13 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., generating nearly $2 trillion in annual revenue.1 To aid in these impressive efforts, many governmental and private organizations have committed to improving the resources and aid available to women-owned businesses. From grants and loans to federal contracting aid, read on to learn more about four unique opportunities for women business owners to grow their businesses.
Network with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
NAWBO is a membership-based organization that focuses on connecting women in business with each other so they can learn from others' experiences. Networking can be a challenge, especially for those in male-dominated industries. NAWBO attempts to level the playing field by connecting women with others in similar industries or business types. NAWBO also offers online discounts and educational resources for its members.
Get Federal Contracts with the Small Business Administration's Federal Contracting Program
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a variety of programs targeted to women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs. Its Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program focuses on improving access to technical industries.2 Federal law requires government agencies to set aside a certain number of contracts for qualified economically disadvantaged WOSBs, which helps these businesses get a leg up when competing against larger or more established businesses for government contracts.
Apply for Grants and Loans Designed for Women-Owned Businesses
There are a variety of grants available for women in business, both through the SBA and through other governmental and private organizations. Just search for "women-owned business grants in [state]" and you'll find a variety of federal and state-level grant programs you may be able to take advantage of.
The SBA also has a Women-Owned Business Program, which has grants and loans available to any businesses that are at least 51 percent owned and controlled by women. Your local SBA office will have more information on the programs in your region.3
Gain Certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) or the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce (USWCC)
The WBENC certifies women-owned businesses through a formal assessment and site visit. Having this certification can make it much easier to apply for grants, loans, and scholarships targeted to women-owned businesses (including SBA grants and loans).
Another organization that promotes and advocates for women business owners is the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce. The USWCC also certifies women-owned small businesses and was one of the pioneers in advocating for equal pay and contract access for women-owned businesses.
The number of women-owned businesses continues to grow, and the opportunities listed above have helped drive this trend. By taking advantage of these resources and working as a mentor to other women entrepreneurs, you can work to level the playing field both for your own business and for the other women-owned businesses that come after you.
Content in this material is for educational and general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.
This article was prepared by WriterAccess.
LPL Tracking # 1-05376138
1 "NWBC 2019 Annual Report," www.nwbc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/20204228/NWBC-2019-Annual-Report-508compliant.pdf
2 "SBA Small Business Contracting Assistance Programs for Women,” sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/women-owned-small-business-federal-contracting-program
3 SBA Regional Offices, www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/regionaloffices