As female business owners, we are used to overcoming many obstacles that block our path to success. Whether it is time constraints or juggling family demands, owning a business can obviously be tricky at times. While these are very real issues many of us face, too often a lack of funding and capital is our greatest struggle when it comes to running our companies and keeping our businesses relevant and thriving. Thankfully, there are a variety of funding resources available to female business owners that can help us continue our work, expand, relieve a little of the stress we face, and help us celebrate our successes.
Scroll through the following list of ideas on how you can find funding as a female business owner:
Look into grants. Women entrepreneurs often struggle to find places for funding, but there are a few grants available from the government that you might qualify for. For example, if your business helps the community you might be eligible. For example, if your business provides energy-efficient technology or expands child-care availability, you are saving the state money and helping residents. Visit the site Grants.gov, a database of federally sponsored grants, to see if your business qualifies. To find grants that are geared specifically for your small business, use the filter on the left side of the site under “eligibility”. Also, check out federal agencies, such as: the departments of Defense, Agriculture, and the Health and Human Services to see if there are possible grant opportunities.
Join the InnovateHER Challenge. This annual contest is hosted by The U.S. Small Business Administration for businesses that have marketable products or services that affect women and families in a positive way. To take part, you will need to enter and win a local InnovateHER Challenge. If you succeed, you will then advance to the national semifinals. In 2017, for instance, the top three finalists at the national level were awarded $40,000, $20,000, and $10,000 respectively. For more information about upcoming challenges, please contact WomenBusiness@SBA.gov for more information.
Find a Women’s Business Center near you. The U.S. Small Business Administration sponsors close to 100 Women’s Business Centers around the nation with the sole purpose to help female business owners develop and finance their operations.
Visit your local Economic Development Office. Many cities and towns, along with every state, provide economic development resources that are dedicated to developing a strong local economy. These offices offer consultations to develop viable business plans while directing you to a variety of resources, funding, and opportunities available locally and nationwide.
Apply for private small-business funding and grants for female business owners. A few businesses and private organizations sponsor grant programs to encourage entrepreneurship. The Amber Grant Foundation awards money to U.S. and Canadian women-owned businesses money every month and Eileen Fisher, a retailer of women’s clothing, gives up to 10 female business owners awards totaling $100,000 every year. Check out the sites and requirements to see if your business qualifies for the grants. Two other options for small business grants to consider (just be warned that they aren’t specifically geared toward women) are the FedEx Small Business Grant which gives money to 10 small businesses every year and The National Association for the Self-Employed which awards $4,000 to small businesses.
Take out a loan. Grants can take a lot of time and effort, but sometimes they don’t meet all of our needs. If your small business needs more capital, consider traditional loans. Currently, data is showing that big banks are approving over a quarter of their requests from small companies and regional banks are approving 49 percent of loan applications. Many companies also qualify for business lines of credit to use as needed. Besides banking institutions, The Small Business Administration offers government backed loans which typically feature low interest rates and ACCION, a non-profit lender, offers microloans.
Find investors. This might be intimidating, but consider asking investors to help fund your company for a share of the profits. Often you will have to approach numerous potential investors before you find one willing to support your pursuits. You can also find support on crowdfunding sites that connect you with people who are seeking to fund new ideas and dreams. Finding an investor is just one avenue female business owners can consider.
How do you find funding as a female business owner?