Tips for Women Business Owners
On paper, things look pretty good these days for women entrepreneurs. Recent figures estimate that women own over 11 million businesses in the United States, employ nearly 9 million people, and generate $1.7 trillion in sales. But women still face specific challenges when it comes to business ownership, and Mercy Corps Northwest is here to help. Here's where to start:
Find your nearest Women's Business Center
The Small Business Administration established The Women’s Business Center Program back in 1988 to help women entrepreneurs overcome barriers to success. Today, more than 100 Women’s Business Centers across the country work every day to provide training and counseling to help women start and expand their businesses.
Mercy Corps Northwest is proud to host the only Women’s Business Center in the state of Oregon. Each year, we help over 1,000 entrepreneurs of all gender identities take the next step on their path to business success. Not based in Oregon? Check out this handy Women's Business Center locator to find the WBC nearest you.
Create a business plan
If you're new a business owner, the single most important thing you can do to set your business up for future success is invest time and energy in your business plan. Writing a business plan is often the most daunting part of opening a business, but it needn’t be. Our five-week-long Business Plan Workshop is designed to help you take your business plan across the finish line, allowing potential investors to understand your long-term business strategy.
Seek out the right funding
Speaking of investors, studies show that access to capital remains one of the main challenges for women entrepreneurs. Building a strong relationship with your banker is crucial to finding the right funding opportunities, but banks aren't the only game in town. Check out our biweekly Funding Friday webinar for an up-to-the-minute round-up of funding opportunities, including business loans and grants, for you and your business. We comb the latest offerings on the federal, state, and local levels so you don't have to.
Tell everyone about your business
Every successful business begins with a great idea, but a unique selling proposition will only get you so far. People can't buy what you're selling if they don't know about it. That means letting everyone in your life know what you're doing. Your friends and family, your acquaintances, should know exactly which industry you're in and what specifically you offer. Start with the people around you, then expand. One way to get ahead of this in the day and age of digital is by building and maintaining a strong online presence. Remember – you can make a large impact by choosing one online platform – such as a website, newsletter or social media platform – and maintaining it well. This makes it easy to drive all customers to one spot to stay updated with you and your business.
Network, network, network
Create a community for your business by creating and building out your network. In the Pacific Northwest, local groups like the MOB Nation, Mercatus, and XXcelerate are a great way to start. Whether it's referring a new client, finding an investor, or just needing to vent to someone who understands the joys and challenges of running a business, no one can empathize better than another female entrepreneur. Community events like our upcoming virtual Women's Speed Mentoring are the perfect way to build new relationships with like-minded individuals. Sign up here for our October 28th event>>
Not in Oregon? You can learn more about Mercy Corps Northwest’s business development services in your area under the Where We Work drop-down menu.