When it comes to business, it’s no longer a man’s world. There’s a shift happening in our culture, and women today are becoming more powerful and present. Women-owned businesses generate more than $1.6 trillion and employ nearly 9 million people, according to SCORE. Women are also more likely to launch a business than men. When it comes to women’s small business loans, however, the news isn’t quite as positive. Men are more likely to seek funding and be approved for a loan, reports SCORE. They’re also awarded more money. In 2017, the average business loan for women was $57,097, while men received nearly double that amount at $103,604, according to CNBC.
It sounds like another example of gender inequality, but there are some hard reasons. Unfortunately, the average woman-owned business has a six-month shorter track record than a man-owned business and a credit score that’s 20 points lower.
So, what can women business owners do to level the playing field? Continuing to develop your business knowledge can keep your business growing, giving you a longer track record.
Resources for Women Small Business Owners
The gender divide doesn’t have to remain, with plenty of women-owned business resources available. Let’s take a look at a few:
DreamBuilder is a free program that provides women with information on a variety of areas relating to business ownership, such as pricing, marketing and management. Offered in English and Spanish, the online course also walks entrepreneurs through the process of creating a business plan.
The Women’s Business Development Council offers free in-person and online classes for female entrepreneurs, including financial planning, accounting and bookkeeping.
In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership offers in-person training and counseling coordinated through its local district offices. Female entrepreneurs can also get matched with a mentor through SCORE.
For women who want to go back to school to advance their education, several programs can help. For example, C200 is a global organization for female business leaders, working to advance women in business. The organization offers awards and training for female entrepreneurs as well as scholarships for women who are seeking their MBA.
The U.S. Department of Commerce is home to the Minority Business Development Agency, which can help minority female entrepreneurs gain access to business information, opportunities and consulting.
Women might also consider negotiation training on how to better negotiate contracts and financing opportunities. Plenty of books on this topic are available, including “Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want.”
When it comes to funding, it can be a smart idea to seek financing companies with a focus on women’s small business loans. By working with a lender who caters to women, female entrepreneurs can be assured they’ll be treated fairly. And when working with an alternative lender, you may qualify for a loan based on factors beyond your credit score.
Women-owned business resources can help female entrepreneurs get the funding they need to grow their businesses. With the combination of money and knowledge, it may soon be a woman’s world when it comes to business and business loans.