- Women own 42% of businesses in the United States.
- Women-owned businesses generate $1.9 trillion annually.
- Women of color account for 50% of female business owners.
October is National Women's Small Business Month, which means it's time to celebrate women-owned businesses everywhere, as well as the outstanding progress female entrepreneurs have made over the years. If you're looking for creative ways to celebrate and support female entrepreneurship, keep reading.
1. Share the exciting facts about women in business.
Most articles about women in business (especially in STEM fields) focus almost exclusively on inequality and harassment, rather than on success, progress, opportunity or resilience. In celebration of National Women's Small Business Month, consider sharing some positive facts about women in business on your social media. After all, the best way to inspire young women to go into business is by encouraging them with success stories.
These three facts can get you started, but there's a lot more information in The 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, which is published annually by American Express and worthy of a full read.
- In 1972, women only owned 4.6% of all businesses in the United States. As of 2019, women owned 42% of all businesses.
- Women-owned businesses grew 21% from 2014 to 2019, and businesses owned by women of color grew at double that rate. Numbers for black women entrepreneurs grew the fastest, with an increase of 50%. In fact, as of 2019, women of color accounted for 50% of all women who owned businesses.
- There are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the United States, employing 9.4 million workers and generating revenue of $1.9 trillion.
If you have your own story of female entrepreneurship, be sure to share that as well, especially in online business communities. It's vital for young women to see business ownership as a viable option for them, which often means having visible role models.
2. Get certified as a woman-owned business.
If you're a female entrepreneur and you want to throw your hat into the ring for government contracts, now is the perfect time to get certified as a woman-owned business. The Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program helps female business owners get a fair shot at government contracts, and the more businesses compete, the better. You can create a profile now and see if you qualify for the Women-Owned Small Business Program. Once you certify, you need to change your profile status to let government organizations know you're eligible for work.
3. Volunteer or become a mentor.
Speaking of role models, if you're a thriving female entrepreneur, consider giving back by either volunteering with organizations that support women in business or becoming a mentor. Nonprofit organizations like the well-known Big Brothers Big Sisters of America are great places to start, but you can also begin at work, or by joining an online community.
Adding your voice to those of other business owners might not seem groundbreaking, but representation matters, even if it's online. The more visible female business owners there are, the likelier young women are to go into business for themselves. It doesn't matter if you're a CEO with hundreds of reports or a small cottage business owner working part-time hours from home – your voice can make a difference.
4. Invest and donate to help women in business.
If you're too short on time to get into mentorship or advocacy, you can support female-owned small businesses by investing, donating or patronizing.
There are many causes that help underprivileged women go into business for themselves, like Kiva, which allows individuals to microlend directly to female entrepreneurs around the world. If you have access to larger amounts of capital, consider going the full venture capital route and investing directly in small women-run businesses.
There are also nonprofits that empower women to achieve financial independence, like Dress for Success, which helps women in need get appropriate attire for interviews and navigate the professional world with confidence. Nontraditional Employment for Women is another great charity, helping women enter trade careers that pay well and do not require degrees – and in which women are vastly underrepresented. The Center for Women & Enterprise helps women in the United States start their own businesses by providing them with valuable guidance, access and resources.
Of course, before donating to these or any other charities, check them out on Charity Navigator so you know how efficient and transparent they are. If you want to raise extra awareness for National Women's Small Business Month, consider starting a fundraising campaign on Facebook for one of the charities listed here (or another organization that supports women in the workforce).
5. Network with other women in business.
Even if you're not a small business owner, this month is a great time to connect with women in your field and build meaningful connections. Professional meetups as well as established local business groups can help women in various fields find like-minded peers.
Larger organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners, Women's Business Enterprise National Council, National Association for Female Executives, American Business Women's Association and National Women's Business Council all host events and help connect women with similar business interests. You may also want to reach out to your local branch of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, even though it isn't a female-specific organization, as it is the largest small business advocacy group in the country, and attending a few local events may help you meet other female entrepreneurs.