There is nothing stopping women from being powerful entrepreneurs right alongside men, building companies and taking them to the top. This is an exciting time to be a woman in business!
Q: What is the latest growth data for women-owned businesses in the US?
A: Overall, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 74% between 1997 and 2015—a rate that’s 1.5 times the national average, according to the recently published “2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report” commissioned by American Express Open. African-American women blow that statistic away. The number of businesses owned by African-American women have grown 322% since 1997, making them the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country.
Women now own 30% of all businesses in the US, accounting for some 9.4 million firms. And African-American women control 14% of these companies, or an estimated 1.3 million businesses. That figure is larger than the total number of firms owned by all minority women in 1997, the report found.
Q: What are the top 5 reasons why it’s a good time for women to become entrepreneurs?
1. Freedom to work and live on your own terms.
As a business owner, you run the show by setting your own hours and hopefully creating the ideal blend of work / life balance. When you start your own business, you can enjoy having the liberty to make it happen on your own terms. Though it may take awhile to figure out your perfect schedule, you’re still the one in charge and you can make as many changes as necessary to adjust it to your liking.
2. The opportunity to build something for yourself.
There is a lot of energy that goes into creating and building something that is all yours, knowing that this is work for yourself, instead of someone else. There is a sense of pride that you get as a business owner because entrepreneurship has no boundaries. No matter what your background, education or experience level, you can succeed as a business owner with the right formula.
3. Unlimited earning potential.
According to the American Association of University Women, women are still only paid about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. There is truly no cap on your income potential when you’re running your own company. With hard work, determination and creativity, you can go from earning six figures to seven figures and beyond—giving you a chance to carve out your own financial destiny.
4. Multiple streams of income.
Many believe that having multiple streams of income is the real way to wealth. You don’t have to quit your job tomorrow to become an entrepreneur. Instead, you can gradually work yourself into full-time entrepreneurship or even remain an “intrapreneur,” earning extra money on the side through your business.
5. People are looking for something new.
When it comes to pitching your service or products, there is an advantage to being a new business owner. Many individuals and companies are looking for new partnerships that offer greater value. This doesn’t mean you have to have the lowest prices, but that you are able to provide the most value and efficiency around delivery and customer service.
Q: How can women find financial resources to assist in starting or growing their business?
A: The US Small Business Administration (SBA) provides resources to help women entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses, and compete in the global marketplace. With online resources, financing opportunities and Women’s Business Centers, the SBA is there to help you succeed.
Q: What is the difference between a grant and a loan?
A: Receiving a grant is basically ALMOST like receiving free money. It does not have to be repaid, but you DO have to prove that you used the funds for the intended purposes, and you usually have to match the grant money with funds from another source (your own money, or another grant). Grants are often smaller amounts than are available with a loan, and can have very specific criteria about who can receive them and how the funds can be used. There are thousands of sources for grants, and many go untapped.
Theoretically, a loan has much broader usage terms than the specific ones for grants – you just have to prove you can repay it. Loans not only have to be repaid, they have to be repaid on a timeline and with interest. However, you are usually free to use a loan for a broader range of needs for your business. Depending on how you guarantee the loan, you can secure a loan for much larger amounts than a grant. Sources for loans are common commercial lenders like banks, but there are also some private, nonprofit organizations that manage loans; in both cases, the SBA has programs that can facilitate a loan.
Be sure to read this month’s Message from Louise that inspires NAPW members to believe in their passions and pursue their dreams.