Women are now majority owners of 38% of businesses in the United States. And yet, when we look at funding, there is a disparity. The loan approval rate for women is 15-20% lower than it is for men, and women receive only 7% of venture capital investment money.
But financing for women business owners is important. It helps them stay competitive, by allowing them to invest in advanced technology, hire new staff, and fund new marketing initiatives. It also helps minor issues stay minor. A late payment from a client or for equipment repair can be frustrating, but can be much more than that if you don’t have a cushion to fall back on.
Here are some sources women can turn to for small business funding:
1. Angel Investors
There are networks of investors referred to as “angel investor networks.” The term originated from musical theater, when wealthy individuals would invest in theatrical productions. In the business world, this looks like affluent investors forming networks and funding start-ups in return for ownership equity or convertible debt. Some of these networks are made up partially or entirely of women. Some have specific focuses, such as reaching underserved markets or supporting tech startups.
Grants are a fantastic resource for any small business owner because you don’t have to pay them back. But you do have to pass a lengthy application process and reach specific eligibility requirements for the grant you choose. It can also be more difficult finding a grant as a for-profit business. Luckily, some private grants are specifically meant for women-owned businesses. A good place to start a search is Grants.gov.
3. Women Business Centers
The Small Business Administration runs around 100 women business centers around the country. Some fund money directly, and those that don’t can still serve in a mentoring capacity. This can be beneficial because it allows for a more individual approach since it is on a local level. A mentor can then send you in the right direction for a loan or grant that would be a great fit.
4. A Business Line of Credit
A business line of credit allows for more flexibility than a traditional loan type. You can use as a little or as much of the credit limit as you want upon being accepted. It’s also an easy way to have true separation of your finances. You can easily track which purchases are strictly for business, and look back on these reports when it is time for filing taxes. Also, some business cards report specifically to business credit agencies – so your personal credit score won’t be impacted while you build up your business and take care of necessary expenses.
Finding funding can seem intimidating. Some women choose to bypass the system and start businesses with their own personal finances, or borrow from friends and family. But there are people who can help! As the number of women entrepreneurs grows, so do their funding options. Don’t be afraid to ask for the funding you need to grow.
Author: Nick Rojas is a self-taught, serial entrepreneur who’s enjoyed success working with and consulting for startups. He concentrates on teaching small and medium sized enterprises how best to manage their social media marketing and define their branding objectives. Follow him @NickARojas