In the past two decades, female-owned businesses have exploded.
Since 1997, the number of women-owned businesses has increased 114%, more than 2.5 times the national business growth rate of 44% for all businesses, according to American Express’ 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. This growth represents a key portion of U.S. firms, with 39% of total businesses in the U.S. owned by women and women-owned businesses generating more than $1.7 trillion in revenue.
With a growing number of women business owners, a host of valuable resources for female business owners have become available. Here, we highlight 15 resources for female business owners:
- U.S. Small Business Administration. With a specific division for women, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership strives to “enable and empower women entrepreneurs” through training that covers finance, management, marketing and the internet. The division also offers access to counseling and advice about starting a business, financial assistance, consulting services, assistance for socially or economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs, specific information from Women’s Business Ownership Representatives and international trade loan programs. In total, there are more than 100 educational Women’s Business Centers across the U.S.
- National Women’s Business Council. Through data, an annual report, resources, research, news and public engagement, the National Women’s Business Council advises on impactful and important issues for women business owners. The council offers multiple resources, including a vetted source of resources for growing business through Grow Her Business, Accelerators and Incubators, Alternative Lending Programs, cash-prize funded business competitions, conferences, crowdfunding, matchmaking with other entrepreneurs, mentor groups, education, localized industry programs, supplier development programs, and technical assistance programs.
- National Association of Women Business Owners. Since its founding in 1975, this dues-based, national organization strives to influence economic, social and political arenas to advance women enterprises. To this end, the NAWBO builds strategic affiliations, coalitions, and alliances, influences publish policy, and champions change in business culture. The association offers an institute, vetted resources, conventions and advocacy.
- American Business Women’s Association. Aiming to connect business women across occupations, the American Business Women’s Association hosts business and networking meetings nationally, co-hosts events for partnership and outreach, and encourages ongoing learning through its online courses and webinars.
- 37 Angels. A community of women investors, 37 Angels works to educate early stage investors through angel investment boot camp courses, mentorship, and networking as part of its membership. For founders looking to invest, 37 Angels hosts a time to pitch to the network, as well as an online application to launch the process. The network also equips the organization to invest sums larger than the typical angel investment of $25K, offering an estimated $50-150K to each company, according to the website.
- Digital Undivided. Since its 2013 founding, Digital Undivided has focused on leading Black and Latinx women founders from ideation through execution in the “startup pipeline.” Through their 9-month-long BIG incubator, the organization selects high potential cohorts to join the incubator, working through customer, product and company development. Through ProjectDiane, the research arm of the organization, Digital Undivided conducts a biennial demographic study to understand the state of Black Women Founders and their startups. Finally, through their invitation-only network, Tower, Digital Undivided offers networking and resources to members.
- EY. Through its Entrepreneurial Women Winning program, EY identifies high-potential women business owners through a competition, and then partners with winners in its executive leadership program. This includes access to information, connections to investors, partnership, customers, or suppliers, individual mentorship, and visibility with the national program.
- Female Founders Fund. This early-stage venture capital fund invests in female business owners, looking specifically for disruptive or innovative ideas, particularly in e-commerce, technology marketplaces, web-enabled services, or technology connected platforms. In addition to investment, Female Founders Fund provides female business owners connections to operators and industry experts.
- SoGal Ventures. Billed as the first female-led, millennial, venture capital firm, SoGal Ventures is a venture capitalist firm that invests in the seed stage as the first institutional investor for a company. SoGal Ventures focuses on businesses poised to impact lifestyle, work and health. The firm is international in scope, with investments in the U.S., Asia, and Europe.
- Tory Burch Foundation An entrepreneur herself, designer Tory Burch launched her foundation with the aim of empowering female entrepreneurs through a Capitol program partnership with Bank of America, an education program partnership with Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Business program, and mentoring and network opportunities. Core drivers of the foundation are to provide resources that help women to grow their business and benefit their families and communities, according to the website.
- Women Who Startup. With a global reach, Women Who Start Up connects female business owners and innovators in a network with other like-minded entrepreneurs alongside mentors. The organization offers a monthly chat for startups, monthly guides that aimed at the startup journey, podcast-based action lists, and a Basecamp event for local chapters (currently in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Phoenix, but set to expand to Seattle, San Francisco, Austin and NYC). In Denver, they host their Women Who Startup Summit, where the organization spotlights exemplary women business leaders.
- Women’s Venture Fund. Since 1994, Women’s Venture Fund has supported female-owned businesses by equipping women in urban communities with funding and business development programs required to launch a successful business. Services include entrepreneurial training, technical support, advising and small loans.
- The BOSS Network. A membership-driven organization, The BOSS Network offers a Business Directory, expert tips, access to their Success Center with monthly online workshops, promotion on their membership site and to the network, partnership discounts for conferences, events, and other sponsor and partner-provided opportunities.
- Ladies Who Launch. A free website, this resource was founded by Victoria Colligan and developed to a network of more than 100,000 women. The site offers expert advice, business resources, success stories, role model profiles, and templates for everything from the business plan through employee hiring.
- U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. A collective of women, this organization works to support members to grow business and also seeks to influence government policy that will better support women across roles, including as students, employees, mothers, breadwinners, business owners, caregivers and retirees. Members can attend meetings, act to influence policy or pursue several business certifications.