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Published on October 6th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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SBA Celebrates National Women’s Small Business Month

By Erin Andrew, SBA Official

Women’s entrepreneurship is on the rise, according to preliminary data from U.S. Census Bureau, which shows that women are increasingly becoming small business owners. U.S. business ownership rose 27.5 percent for women, and overall, America added one million net, new businesses from 2007 to 2012, a period in which U.S. employment fell by 3.8 million.

This is exciting news, and as we celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month, it is important to not only recognize the contributions of women-owned businesses, but to help more women get started. Women still face many challenges when it comes to business ownership, and the SBA has the resources and assistance help Woman-Owned Small Businesses over the hurdles to start-up.

The SBA broke some really significant records last year: small loans under the SBA’s Community Advantage loan program went from $56 ½ million to $200 million – that’ an 80% jump. More importantly, we were able to get more capital those who need it the most.

  • Women’s lending was up 19%, and
  • Minority lending was up 26.5%.

We also broke the record for contracts to women-owned businesses, nearing our 5% goal for government contracting. Starting next month, for the first time, eligible women-owned business can bid for sole-source contracts. This is a great victory for women because now women-owned firms will have the same access as other underserved businesses in federal contracting. We’re now pushing forward on our process to get more 3rd party certifiers so more women entrepreneurs can benefit from the Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Program.

We are also excited about the SBA’s second round of our InnovateHER Business Challenge, building on the success of our 2015 challenge, where more than 100 organizations took part, reaching 1,000 entrepreneurs across the country. The SBA is looking to unearth products or services that have a measurable impact on women and their families, fill a need in the marketplace, and have the potential for commercialization. The semi-final competition winners will be invited to the National InnovateHER Summit in March 2016 in Washington, D.C. during Women’s History Month. The finalists will pitch their products and ideas to a panel of expert judges and compete for $70,000 in prize money provided by Microsoft.

Woman-Owned Small Businesses: How to Get Started

Designating your business as an official Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) can potentially open your business to additional opportunities. For those of you thinking of registering as a WOSB, here are some steps to consider:

The first step is to make sure that you are running a legal business. Business registration includes everything from obtaining a tax ID to naming your business, registering with local government, and applying for local business licenses. Visit this page to get started.

The next step is asking yourself if you need a woman owned designation. Is it a must-have? Not necessarily – but there are certainly benefits to the designation. For example, some government contracts are set aside for businesses with specific designations including women, minority, veteran, and disabled-veteran-owned businesses. You must obtain a certification to designate your business as one of these business types if you want to be considered for set-aside contracts. For more information regarding contracting visit the contracting support page.

To bid on state contracts, you have to register with your state procurement office, which can also provide you with useful tips on doing business with your state as well as a list of current opportunities. Similar to the Federal government, state governments set aside business opportunities through government contracts for specific business types. These contracts and their requirements differ from state to state, but typically, you need to be certified as a specific business type to take advantage of these programs.

Visit the State Contracting Opportunities page to find out more about your state’s certification programs.

In addition to Federal and state designations, you can register your business with non-government organizations and certification agencies. Each certification body offers different benefits for businesses that qualify, including business fairs, networking opportunities, training programs, financing options, and more.

Designations such as WOSB help to level the playing for women who own small businesses. Although there has been an increase in female business ownership, we still have work to do! SBA services and resources are there to help you lead the charge in supporting woman’s equality, especially as it pertains to small business ownership.

What WOSB are you celebrating for National Women’s Small Business Month?

Additional Resources
SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership
SBA’s Women’s Business Centers
DreamBuilder {online curriculum focused on business plan building for women entrepreneurs}
Resources to Help Your Woman-Owned Business Succeed
Find a Mentor or Counselor

 

 

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