Features

Published on September 1st, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Making Women Equal in Business – SBA Recognizes Women’s Equality Day

By Erin Andrew, SBA Official

It was in 1920 when women in the United States were granted the right to vote, and women have continued to move in an upward direction ever since. Women’s Equality Day is a chance to reflect on how far women have come and on the glass ceilings we have yet to break.

There has been a significant cultural change the past half-century, and the SBA has helped many women overcome the barriers to successful business ownership in many ways. Just four decades ago, women were still required to have a male cosigner on a loan. Women today make up nearly 29 percent of all U.S. business owners.

New preliminary data by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that there has been an incredible increase in the number of women-owned small businesses.

U.S. business ownership rose 27.5 percent for women during the period between 2007 and 2012, and there are currently 9.9 million women-owned businesses in the United States. That’s an increase of 2.1 million businesses (or 27.5 percent from 2007).

The data also shows that women-owned businesses increased their receipts by 35 percent, producing $1.6 trillion in sales in 2012 compared to $1.2 trillion in 2007.

These preliminary numbers show that women entrepreneurs have certainly moved in a positive direction, and the SBA wants to be a partner to help even more women hammer their way to the top of their entrepreneurial dreams.

We know that women entrepreneurs face challenges when first launching a business, but we also know that it can be done, and done very successfully. To improve the odds for business success, a woman entrepreneur must think beyond a “really good idea” and flesh out the vision for her enterprise.

The SBA has the tools and resources available to help women entrepreneurs. Here are five ways to level the playing field:

Have a plan. Whether it is a business plan or a marketing plan, these will help to get the results you desire. Think of a business plan as a roadmap whose goal is to identify the route you will take to meet your financial and growth objectives. Creating a marketing plan can help ensure that you maximize each marketing dollar you spend and that your marketing message is getting across to your target customers. The SBA’s Women’s Business Centers can help you create and review both. A great tool is DreamBuilder, an online curriculum focused on helping women entrepreneurs build a business plan.

Know your competition. A market analysis will identify your target market, its size and other distinguishing characteristics, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. The SBA website has a great tool called Size Up to help identify your target market. Once you have that information, you can include it in your business plan.

Market your business effectively. Marketing is the process of creating sales, and it’s different for every business. Develop an overall marketing strategy which includes how you’ll communicate with your various audiences.

Have an exit strategy. Most business owners have no plan to handle the unexpected such as financial hardship or a disability, nor do they have a plan for succession or transferring ownership.

Get started. We know that entrepreneurs who get good counseling and training stay in business longer, generate more revenue, and hire more employees. The SBA has an extensive support network leveraged through our resource partners and available to small businesses nationwide. The network includes more than 100 Women’s Business Centers, over 900 Small Business Development Centers, and more than 300 chapters of SCORE volunteers who provide training and counseling to entrepreneurs.

There’s no better time to start a business than today, and the SBA has free online courses that can help women entrepreneurs to not only start but to grow.

Women have been a vital component to our nation’s economic growth and we want to continue to make our mark during the next half century.

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