In support of female entrepreneurs, in the third quarter of 2023, Truist surveyed 502 women who own small businesses (Truist 2023 Women-Owned Small Business Survey) and found that survey respondents were increasingly concerned about sales and cash flow in an unsettled economy.Disclosure 1 Owners surveyed said they’re turning to fellow entrepreneurs, educational programs, and mentors to find help managing these challenges.
To help women owners address the issues that concern them most, we’ve identified resources for women business owners that include networking, finding access to capital, entrepreneurial education, and business advice.
Where woman-owned businesses want support
Percentage of women small business owners surveyed who want resources to help with:
Networking groups help connect women business owners with fellow entrepreneurs to learn from each other’s challenges and successes. These groups support business owners with education, connections to resources, referrals for new customers, and informed advice on a variety of business issues. Groups focused on women are designed to help women owners address their challenges, such as balancing business and family as well as navigating situations where they feel they’re not being taken seriously as business owners.
Networking groups that support women business owners
- General networking groups:
- Local, state and national forums for CEOs to help with networking and business growth
- Small Business Administration (SBA) events
- Local chambers of commerce
- Groups focused on woman-owned businesses:
- American Business Women’s Association (ABWA)
- National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
- SBA Women’s Business Centers
- Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC)
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
- Ladies who Launch
- SBA Office of Women’s Business Ownership
How to take advantage
Start by defining your goals for networking. Are you looking for help in addressing a specific business challenge? A CEO forum or roundtable may be best for you. Do you need referrals for suppliers or partners? If resources or leads for generating new business are your top priority, then a lead-oriented group where there is only one person per industry—and no competitors—might help. Consider researching woman-only business groups if you feel a network of other woman business owners might provide a more supportive environment for you to seek honest feedback and freely express concerns and doubts.
To get different perspectives, talk to other entrepreneurs you respect about groups they have found useful. Commit to actively participate when trying a new group or organization. You might want to set a checkpoint at six months to see if your goals are being met.
Finding access to capital
According to our Truist survey (Truist 2023 Women-Owned Small Business Survey), women business owners report access to capital as their greatest challenge. In fact, many small business owners could use access to additional capital to start or grow their businesses. Fortunately, there are several funds and programs that can help women get the financing they need.
Sources of capital for women business owners
- Bootstrapping with your own reserves is the most common way to fund a business, especially in the first year. Many women also turn to family and friends for help either as a loan agreement or a gift of support.
- Banks offer a variety of options such as business credit cards, business loans, and business lines of credit. Bank representatives can help you in selecting financing vehicles to better manage your cash flow.
- Angel investors for early-stage companies, venture capitalists, and other private equity can all provide funds in return for ownership and a share of your profits.
How to take advantage
- Learn more about credit options to finance business expansion to determine which are most likely to meet your business’s needs.
- Focus first on the sources you’ve prioritized and gradually expand your search as needed. Seeking capital takes time, and you don’t want to waste precious time and energy that could be used to build your business.
- Enlist help from business contacts. Ask a mentor, business peer, or an advisor with experience for help with introductions to investors, or advice in putting together a strong pitch or application.
Continuous learning can help owners acquire new skills or gather information on trends and technology. Fortunately, there are many informational resources. You’ll want to do your homework on which educational and information resources warrant your time.
Entrepreneurial education resources for women
- SCORE offers several educational programs (some in partnership with Truist) for women entrepreneurs from start-up tips to topics like hiring and strategy for more developed small businesses.
- Dreambuilder helps women with free entrepreneurial education in English and Spanish.
- Truist also has an in-depth resource center with educational content for small business owners. Women business owners can also sign up for ongoing webinars and articles addressing issues faced by women entrepreneurs.
How to take advantage
- Identify your learning goals. Do you want to answer a specific question, learn a skill, or generally stay informed?
- Ask business peers or advisors where they go for information or advice. With a specific goal in mind, conversations with others about their learning experiences can lead you to the best answer.
- Carve out time for learning. For many, this means signing up for a course or program to expand knowledge or gain skills. It can be difficult in the fast-paced world of running a business, but time devoted to your personal development as a business owner can pay off. Create a list of blogs, email digests, and websites that you find valuable and subscribe to them, so you stay current.
You don’t have to go it alone. Fifty-seven percent of woman-owned businesses who responded to the Truist survey (Truist 2023 Women-Owned Small Business Survey) look to business mentors or coaches for help with business challenges (link to Truist women-owned business infographic page).
Expand your base of support by building a group of trusted confidants who can help where you need it most, whether in sales, finance, or hiring.
Sources for mentors and business coaches
- The SBA Women’s Business Centers
- SCORE mentoring is a free service offered to any aspiring or established owners of a U.S.-based business.
- Business peers
- Friends and family
How to take advantage
Before you meet with an advisor, it’s a good idea to prepare specific questions or outline areas where you need help. You’ll want the advisor to know that you respect not only her help but her time.
Stay in touch regularly to sustain your advisor’s interest in helping you succeed. Keep advisors engaged with regular reports on the actions you’ve taken since your last meeting and update them on your progress toward the goals you’ve set.