Key takeaways

  • As you research funding options for your business, options to review include women business owner groups, accelerator funds and industry-specific grants.

  • Advisors, mentors and sponsors can provide valuable support and advice at every point in the business lifecycle.

Women own nearly 13 million – or 42% – of all businesses in the U.S.1

If you’re preparing to join this growing community of women entrepreneurs and business owners, following are resources you may be able to leverage to give your new business an edge.

Develop a support system of advisors, mentors and other women business owners who can help play a role in how your run your business.


Seek funding options

In the planning stage of a business, funding should come first. When it comes to finding those funding opportunities there are several paths you could follow, including:

  • Women business owner groups: There are various organizations dedicated to helping women business owners, such as:
    • Women’s Business Centers: The U.S. Small Business Administration offers training and funding opportunities specifically for women, including Women’s Business Centers (WBCs). These centers are part of a national network of entrepreneurship centers and provide business training, counseling and access to funding.
    • Private grants: This option requires some research, but organizations such as the Amber Grant Foundation and the Cartier Women's Initiative offer national programs for women entrepreneurs.
    • Business programs: Graham & Walker is a network for women business owners that provides fundraising opportunities and other programs to support female business owners.
  • Angel investors: Angel investors like 37 Angels and Topstone Angels can provide funding, industry knowledge and insights to help your business. However, it’s important to remember that they may seek to own a piece of your business as part of their investment.
  • Accelerator funds: These funds may be particularly beneficial because they can provide funding, mentorship, access to industry connections and educational opportunities to give your business a running start. Accelerator funds like The Refinery are selective and have an application process, so it’s important to do your research and choose one that will work best for your business. Once you’ve chosen the right fit, you’ll need to demonstrate that your business is worth the investment. Present a strong business plan, emphasize the potential and knowledge of your team and be ready to defend your idea.
  • Industry-specific grants: Finding grants targeted toward businesses in your chosen industry is another option. Research any associations or other organizations that support your industry, as some may have grant programs. State and local governments might also offer grants to new small businesses. In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration has a number of grants with varying criteria that your business might meet, including some grants specifically for women-owned businesses.
  • Traditional lending options: These include loans or lines of credit from a financial institution. However, the availability of those options may depend on which stage you’re at in the business lifecycle.
  • Friends and family: Beginning entrepreneurs may want to default to this path when seeking funding. However, consider pursuing this as a last resort, and then establish clear parameters when borrowing from loved ones.

Since finding the right funding resources is key in starting – and supporting – your business, it may be helpful to seek advice to find the right options for you.


Consult professional resources

A team of trusted advisors is valuable at every point in the business lifecycle, whether you’re just starting your business and need help creating a plan, or your business is growing and you need help meeting demand.

A financial professional, legal advisor and CPA can help you find a balance between your personal and business finances.


Grow your network

Develop a support system of advisors, mentors and other women business owners who can help play a role in how you run your business. Successful women entrepreneurs with different professional backgrounds may be able to offer guidance on business ownership, regardless of their industry, and the challenges that come with it. Networking events such as Startup Week can be a great way to find connections.

You may also want to look for organizations that provide sponsorship for women entrepreneurs. When searching for sponsorships it’s important to distinguish between a mentor and a sponsor. Although both are valuable, they serve different purposes:

  • A sponsor provides financial funding and influence in exchange for something from you. Look for sponsors who can make further connections for you, such as introducing you to new clients or investors. Identify what you can offer so you can communicate it to potential sponsors.
  • A mentor is someone who guides you and provides advice based on their personal experiences dealing with similar situations. Seeking out mentors is equally important as obtaining the financial backing of a sponsor. In fact, entrepreneurs with a mentor are five times more likely to launch their business than those without, and 80% of businesses with a mentor last past the first year compared to 75% of those without.2

Learn how we can help you work toward your business and personal financial goals.

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  1. State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. Commissioned by American Express. 2019.

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