What You Need To Know To Support Female-Owned Local Businesses

When one looks at the statistics, the data on female-owned local businesses look very promising. According to an American Express report, there are almost 13 million women-owned businesses in the United States alone, representing 42% of all U.S. companies, generating $1.8 trillion annually. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, more women started a business than men. However, in day-to-day reality, women entrepreneurs face challenges that the statistics don’t quite capture.

According to a study, compared to men, women were more likely to start their own businesses from scratch and were also more likely to do it solo than with partners. This poses various challenges unique to female-owned businesses. Here’s what you need to know about the obstacles that female entrepreneurs have to go through, and what you can do to support female-owned businesses. 

Limited Funding

Although both men and women face limited funding challenges in the course of starting and building their businesses, women encounter more obstacles in getting funding. According to recent data, only 2.3% of venture capital goes to women, which fell significantly in 2020. Due to this funding disparity, only 2% of women-owned startups yield $1 million, while men are 3.5 times more likely to achieve this. This is because venture capitalists tend to invest in startups owned and run by people of their own “tribe,” which are mostly men. Only 6% of venture capital firms in the United States have women partners, who are more likely to invest in women-run startups.

Gender Biases 

Even in the 21st century, gender biases against women starting and running their own businesses are still rampant, especially in traditionally male-dominated industries like construction and technology. Carryovers of patriarchal mindsets still linger, consigning women to “feminine” industries like beauty and fashion, food, clothes, children, caregiving, healthcare, and education. Many of these biases are unconscious, making it more difficult for them to be identified as biases that need to be changed. They are usually even codified into business and industry practices as acceptable norms. Women who exhibit exceptional business acumen are commonly viewed as “doing business like a man” or “one of the boys” when business talent and skills can be exhibited by both men and women.

Work-life Balance and Support

Multiple burdens are still the lot of most women, whether they are in business or not. Their work never ceases, whether it’s in home-making, child-care, or in their careers and businesses, so much so that this has given rise to the “hurried woman syndrome.” This is compounded further when a woman goes into business for herself, as a business can take up so much of one’s mental, physical, emotional, and psychological resources, in addition to one’s attention, time, energies, and money.

Usually, on top of their many responsibilities at home and in their business, they even do their own social media marketing campaigns, too, which is a necessity to stand out in today’s competitive business world. In addition, forty-eight percent (48%) of women business founders report that it’s a challenge for them to find competent advisors and a community of support for their entrepreneurial journeys. Given these challenges, what can you do to support your women friends with businesses? Here are three practical ways to do this.

Buy from Their Businesses

Obviously, nothing makes a business succeed more than customers buying from them frequently and in large volumes, as much as possible. Support your local female-owned businesses by making a conscious effort to prioritize buying from them. Feedback them on what needs you have that they can help meet, and how they can provide better products and services. Let them know that you support them and that you’d like to see them succeed in their business. Seek them out in your community, and even make a directory of who and where they are. Perhaps, you can use this list not only for yourself but to spread the word to other people as well.

Recommend Their Businesses to Your Networks and Spheres of Influence

Refer your family, friends, and colleagues to these female-owned businesses. Post your list/directory of local women entrepreneurs on your own social media accounts. Promote and give a review for your favorite women-owned businesses on social media. Follow their business pages and share their social media posts. Comment on their feeds and tag friends who might be interested in what they offer through their businesses. When you give them a 5-star rating in your reviews, give detailed reasons as to why you rated them so. Your review might just be the information other people need to buy from their business, too.

Host a Gathering of Women Entrepreneurs and Provide Mentoring Opportunities

It can start with a small, informal coffee chat that could later grow into business luncheons. Invite women entrepreneurs to a gathering with guest resource speakers who can talk on topics they might need in their entrepreneurial journeys. Or, they can take turns being the guest speakers at each meeting, sharing with and learning from each other about their best practices and lessons learned. You can also support them by volunteering to help them out with business tasks like bookkeeping or writing website content copy for them if these are your specialties, or by offering your services at a discount. Link them up, too, with other women entrepreneur groups and women-focused networking events like eWomenNetwork, WIN Conference, Ellevate Network, and Bizwomen.

Women in business need all the support they can get because they face challenges unique to their being women, especially in gender-biased contexts. However, one strong gift women share in common, too, is their ability to multiply what they have and what they’re given through the power of connection and community. Harness this strength in helping women lift each other up through their business endeavors. Empowered women empower other women. Together, they can also empower not only the people they engage with in their businesses but also their families, their communities, and ultimately, the bigger society.

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