7 Essential Resources for Women Small Business Owners

7 Essential Resources for Women Small Business Owners

by Jane Haskins, Esq., September 2017

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Women own more than 9.1 million American businesses but, in many ways, business can still feel like a man's world.

Women notably struggle to attract the attention of funding sources. Many report difficulty in developing strong business networks and finding mentors, especially in male-dominated industries like tech. And work-life balance is always a challenge.

The good news is, there are many resources to help women succeed in business, if you know where to look. Here are a few:

1. NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners

NAWBO is a dues-based organization whose mission is to propel women into greater economic, social, and political power worldwide. NAWBO has chapters in cities throughout the country that sponsor educational meetings and networking events, and NAWBO's website includes online entrepreneurial training and resources.

2. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

Located throughout the U.S. and its territories, the SBA's Women's Business Centers help women start and grow small businesses. Over 100 centers provide both training and counseling services on a variety of topics. The SBA also sponsors a Women-Owned Small Businesses Federal Contracting Program, designed to give women-owned small businesses better access to federal contracting opportunities.

3. The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

WBENC provides independent certification to women-owned businesses, opening opportunities to do business with major corporations. Its stated mission is "To fuel economic growth globally through access to opportunities, by identifying, certifying and facilitating development of women-owned businesses."

4. Local, Regional, or National Trade Groups

Your industry's primary trade group may have a women's section, committee, or networking group, or there may be a separate industry trade organization for women in your field. Annual conferences are a good place to connect with other women who are in your industry and face similar business challenges.

5. Meetup.com

Meetup.com is a resource for organizing and finding gatherings of people with similar interests in your community. Try searching for women's business groups, networking groups, or mastermind groups. Look for a meetup that seems active, with frequent events scheduled.

6. SCORE

Local SCORE chapters throughout the U.S. pair entrepreneurs with volunteer business mentors in a wide range of industries. The SCORE website offers a wide range of resources for women entrepreneurs, including educational blogs and success stories, and webinars on women's entrepreneurship and general business.

7. Entrepreneurship Websites

The internet is full of sites designed to inspire, educate, and empower women. Some offer free content, some are membership sites, and some are geared toward conferences or education. Popular sites include Ladies Who Launch, She Owns It, the Female Entrepreneur Association, Women Who Startup, and Marie Forleo's blog. You can find others by searching for websites and blogs for women entrepreneurs.

Women face unique challenges in business, but you don't have to sort things out alone. By combining community and online resources, you can position yourself for success with knowledge, financing, mentoring, and a strong professional network.