Starting a business is one of the biggest undertakings of a lifetime. Doing it without any support is even harder. That’s why there are organizations to help, especially women who have entrepreneurial ideas.
Starting and growing businesses requires a lot of assistance. Obviously, finding capital is essential, whether through grants, loans, or private donations. Business advice to help navigate the bureaucracy involved in forming a business is also essential. But perhaps most crucial in the long run is networking—the ability to connect to other entrepreneurs and to the consumer groups your business caters to. Without being in the loop, a business may not make it; in fact, research suggests repeatedly that most new businesses fail within the first few years of operation.
So, where do you look for help if you need it?
Generally, you have three sources.
The first is governmental. Recognizing the importance of backing women entrepreneurs, agencies such as the Small Business Administration are in position to help. There are many other resources, such as the National Women’s Business Council, a non-partisan advisory group which prioritizes different entrepreneurial projects, and the Minority Business Development Agency, which is part of the United States Department of Commerce. The agency, SCORE, which partners with the SBA, also provides resources and mentorship for thousands of women entrepreneurs.
Another place to look is the private sector. For example, the National Association for Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is a 10-million strong networking, education, and resource giant that provides assistance in startups and counsel to existing businesses. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council is also a leader in facilitating resource and networking opportunities. Regional associations, such as New York City Women in Business, or the 9-state Midwest not-for-profit Women’s Business Development Center, are easily accessible to local business owners.
Finally, the academic world is limitless in its support for women entrepreneurs. In addition to student-centered activities, most campuses offer educational seminars or networking opportunities to the greater community. Ohio University, for example, hosted a Women’s Entrepreneurship Week in 2021. The Jim Moran Speaker Events at Florida State University and Babson College’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership sponsor programs tailored for women in business. To find out what’s near you, contact your local university business college or women’s studies department to see what is available.
Your business can make it! Your strength and determination will see to that. But along the way, don’t be hesitant to ask for back-up. It’s all part of being a wise entrepreneur.