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 Office of Women's Business Ownership 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. International Association of Women (IAW)
The International Association of Women provides its members with in-person and virtual networking events, professional development opportunities, career and business development services, and promotional opportunities. Women from a wide range of backgrounds and professional fields come together to form this dynamic community of accomplished women.
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.