The number of women-owned businesses in the country is growing faster than ever. This is great news! New businesses create new jobs and boost our local economy. However, women entrepreneurs face unique challenges which often result from gender bias or perception. Here are three of the common challenges women face when owning a business:
Women are increasingly finding ways to become self-employed but are facing challenges acquiring funding. Access to capital is vital to any small business’ growth. But women entrepreneurs are faced with larger obstacles than their male counterparts when it comes to venture capital and borrowing from financial institutions. The good news is there are more alternative funding sources available for business owners looking for smaller loan amounts to help launch or grow their companies. Kiva is one such alternative platform that offers 0% interest micro loans that can help women expand and fund their business ideas and establish their business credit score. Learn more about Kiva US Loans.
2. Limited Access to Mentors and Industry Networks
Mentorship and networking play a significant role in the success of business owners in particular for women who are just starting their entrepreneurial journeys. Women entrepreneurs can learn the rules of the game from experienced mentors, as well as build and foster critical business connections. But, even with the rapidly growing number of female business owners, connecting with fellow entrepreneurs isn’t always easy.
Many networks are still male dominated and often tight-knit clubs that are hard, or costly to get into, especially for women. Fortunately, there are online communities like Ellevate Network and MicroMentor.org that help entrepreneurs, and experienced professionals work together to invest in women to help reach personal and business growth.
Southwest Florida women and leaders can also become involved with ElevateHer SWFL an initiative which provides a platform for Southwest Florida professionals to network, learn about issues impacting women and girls, and effect change in their community.
3. The Fear of Failure
According to Babson College’s 2014 Global Entrepreneur Monitor – USA Report the fear of failure is the primary concern of women who are starting their business. Fear of failure is a concern for both genders, but it’s higher for female entrepreneurs than their male counterparts. Women business owners tend to have lower perceptions of their entrepreneur abilities than male business owners and these perceptions often prevents or hinders women from starting or growing a business.
Ladies, You Got This!
Here’s some good news to help overcome the fear of failure: More women than men are starting businesses in consumer products and services that are highly saturated and require constant innovation to grow. Women are outperforming male counterparts in innovation, are better-calculated risk takers, less prone to overconfidence, and are more likely to take the long-term view. Women might need to work harder to access capital or join private professional networks, but once they are in, they tend to be great networkers.
Helping women-owned businesses overcome challenges goes beyond the need for gender equality. Female entrepreneurs have great potential to affect the growth of the economy. Therefore, it’s good business sense to support and aid women entrepreneurs for overall benefit to the economy.
Are you a women entrepreneur? What are some of the obstacles you face daily?[/cmsms_text][/cmsms_column][/cmsms_row]
Traditionally, non-profit organizations have addressed the needs of the community by filling service gaps and developing programs to help communities in need. This is often achieved by raising funds/goods to support a cause, and by distributing those funds/goods to those in need to fulfill the nonprofit’s mission.
But is this approach working? Are nonprofits helping the needy and developing long-lasting results to address issues of inequality, poverty and lack of access to education? The answer to this question is often a resounding NO.
A common problem in the nonprofit world is that emphasis is often placed on addressing the immediate symptoms of a problem, but the cause of that problem is often ignored.
We treat hunger in our community by opening food banks; open shelters for those who need a home, etc. But in doing this, we are not addressing the problems that caused an individual to need those services; we are only putting a Band-Aid on the problem.
“Giving to those in need what they could be gaining from their initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people.” – Robert D. Lupton, Author of the book Toxic Charity
Organizations who provide immediate relief for hunger, shelter and natural disasters are crucial to our community. However, a nonprofit’s work should not end there.
Treating the symptoms is only a temporary fix as the problems usually repeat, creating an endless cycle that promotes dependency and marginalizes those it’s meant to help.
The concept of charity is now outdated. We shouldn’t look at community service or charitable gifts as charity work. Instead, we should move from a culture of giving and enabling to a culture of empowering. At the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida, we are on a path to creating and supporting programs that promote self-efficacy.
Our Matched Savings for Education Program offers applicants the opportunity to save for education and participate in individualized financial training while receiving Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida matching dollars to cover their college tuition!
Our Kiva program for entrepreneurs gives local women-owned businesses access to the capital they need to grow and expand their business, and our ElevateHer SWFL initiative is helping raise funds for initiatives that drive lasting impact for SWFL women and girls.
How can we look beyond the Band-Aid approach? Do you think self-efficacy is important when developing charitable programs? Leave us your comment below!![/cmsms_text][/cmsms_column][/cmsms_row]
Florida ranks 1st in the country for growth in the number of women-owned businesses, according to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN. For Florida, a state in which many women still struggle with a considerable wage gap this news can be great! Let’s use Southwest Florida earnings as an example. 85% of Southwest Florida women earn $50,000 or less per year, and while engaging community leaders to improve local wages is key; fostering entrepreneurship can also pave the way towards developing the economic power of SWFL women.
The American Express Open report estimates that there are 971,000 women-owned businesses in Florida as of 2016 which employ about 500,000 people; this means that the vast majority of Florida women-owned startups are one-woman businesses who only use contractors when they need outside services.
Women are finding ways to become self-employed but are facing challenges acquiring funding, balancing their business needs, and finding the resources to hire and create employment opportunities.
Unfortunately, women are still finding it more difficult to get business loans than male business owners even when accounting for factors such as industry and credit score. We believe that allowing women to fund their ideas is the first step to helping them expand, and we’re putting our beliefs into action. This month, we are helping Maria Hayes, owner of CPA and Associates in Naples raise the funds she needs to expand her SWFL business through our Kiva initiative.
Kiva is a great platform that offers 0% interest micro loans that can help women expand and fund their business ideas and establish their business credit score. Maria is rapidly moving toward her goal of borrowing $10,000 interest-free from lenders like you! 18 Lenders have already supported Maria’s Campaign Including matching funds by Capital One! Please consider making a loan towards her goal. You can give as little as $25 – it’s easy and fun. You will help a small business grow in your community – plus be repaid for your contribution!
Check out Maria’s Kiva Profile HERE
There is no doubt that volunteering is good for the spirit. However, it can also be good for your career. We talked to our Board Chair, Nancy Merolla to see how getting involved in your community can positively impact your professional life. Check out our top 3 ways in which helping others can help you!
“Being on the Board has given me a chance to get to know many passionate and committed women who are truly a force of influence and a powerful energy moving together to address the issues of women and girls in SWFL.” – Nancy Merolla, Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida Board Chair
Participating on a non-profit board is an excellent opportunity to expand your network. It enables you to gain unique access to business leaders in your area and allows you to demonstrate professional value through your participation and interactions in board meetings. This may result in new business leads or networking opportunities that could help advance your current career.
By engaging and joining forces with others in the community, Nancy now has a group of women she calls fellow members, colleagues, and more importantly friends. Such connections are priceless
Having a title does not naturally make you a leader. Good leaders learn from others and share their wisdom to help peers advance their skills. Whatever your career, you likely have valuable knowledge that you could pass onto others to make an impact in their lives. As you share knowledge, you become aware of the challenges facing your community and can use your voice, experience, and skill-set to lead and advocate for change.
Board service can provide you with invaluable opportunities for professional development and experiences you might not have at your current job. As a board member, you could be asked to speak for the organization you represent in events, as well as in the media. These opportunities enable you to build your confidence with public speaking and with making public appearances. Most boards are interdisciplinary, which creates an opportunity for you to learn from fellow board members who are often experts in fields that may differ from your own. A few of the expertise commonly found in non-profit boards include accounting, strategic planning, communications, marketing and business law.
If you are looking to join a board or get involved in a philanthropic process, Nancy’s advice is to join for the mission. Find an organization to serve that you are genuinely passionate about.
Joining a Board should not always be a business-driven decision, but should be a decision that you can personally and professionally make the commitment through time and effort.
It is not always about personal giving if you are not financially able – but also about the connection and doors you can open.
Nancy says that being a board member is much more than just an opportunity to socialize for an hour or two per month. She recommends that you share your expertise and lead by example and learn as much as possible about the agency to help attain its mission.[/cmsms_text][cmsms_text animation_delay=”0″]
Nancy Merolla has been serving her community for nearly 30 years. She is a founding board member of the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida and the current Board Chair. You can learn more about Nancy HERE
Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want ♫
The internet is going crazy with this video created by the Global Goals for Sustainable Development designed to push for change towards the most common inequalities encountered by women and girls. We’re channeling our inner 90’s teen and dancing to our favorite Spice Girls songs to join the cause. We share the same goals of creating:
What do you want for SWFL girls and women? Share your photo with a sign or tell us on social media using the hashtags #WhatIreallyWant #FundWomenFL
Need some inspiration? Visit the http://www.globalgoals.org/ to see how others are advocating for change!