Although we may have started our business as a side hustle just to have that extra income, our entrepreneurial spirit pushed us to work smarter not only harder. Maybe you don’t consider blogging a real business, but as I mentioned in previous posts, the mommy blog industry is about 3.9 million moms writing about ket topics and earning around $50,000 in a month. According to Mediakix, it is expected to grow into a $10 billion industry at the end of 2020.
What about life coaching? Training? Recruitment and executive search? What about cleaning services? Beauty supplies? Fashion retail? Handmade bags? STEM classes for girls? Matchmaking for executives? Digital marketing and publishing? Organic cleansers? Catering? The majority of the businesses I mentioning started as a side hustle or a small business idea that after hard work and smart strategies grew into a stable, profitable business.
Women need role models and mentors
Identifying role models and mentors is especially important for women to succeed in their entrepreneurial abilities (and in life), female business owners need relatable role models, not only the 33 Female CEOs who made it into the Fortune 500.
When you have the opportunity to meet and learn from role models who look like you, that is, a female entrepreneur. The likelihood for you to thrive increases simply because of the priceless resources she shares with you, like introductions to the right business partner, pointing out flaws in your model, feedback on your strategy, and why not? Maybe investing in your company.
Kauffman Foundation reports that a lack of available mentors or advisors is also a top challenge for women-owned businesses.
Of course, you’ve heard of SCORE, which is the nation’s largest network of volunteer business mentors, with more than 10,000 volunteers in 300 chapters. Women now represent roughly 58 percent of SCORE’s current clients. Still, only 20% of the volunteers are women, which makes it harder for female business owners to find a mentor they feel comfortable with. Luckily, the organization is focusing on working to recruit more women mentors, like myself.
I mentor other mothers who want to become entrepreneurs, and I guide them on NOT TO DO what I’ve done wrong, I try to save them time and money by helping understand where they stand, what goals they have and how to achieve them. Sounds easy, but usually is more complicated than that.
My first advice to my mentees is: Find a good role model you can shadow and learn from her, and I’m not talking about a superstar (sure you can read a biography or follow their career), but rather look for someone from your community that you can learn from. Join a networking group, online or not. Find your tribe and ask.
That’s how Back2WorkMom was born, it started with a failure, then an idea, some mothers asking for help, workshops at the public library and now I’m running a business, not a side hustle.
Women ask for less funding.
On average, women ask about $35,000 less than men when asking for funding, and rely more on personal sources of financing like savings or credit cards (been there, done that) to start their businesses.
Truth is, women entrepreneurs face more hardships in gaining access to capital because:
- They don’t know people who might do the right introductions to investors,
- There is a lack of information on financial resources at the local and state levels.
- Female investors are underrepresented in venture capital firms, only 8% have women investors.
- Investors ask women entrepreneurs about losses and work-family balance but to male entrepreneurs, investors pose different questions focusing on opportunity and the potential for gains.
Only 8 out of 100 top private investors are women, which results in venture capitalists funding entrepreneurs who share similar backgrounds, understand the gender approach, experiences, and perceptions. It is hard to break gender barriers to financial resources with so few female investors in decision making positions.
Access to resources goes beyond funding.
Sometimes a small business owner’s main challenge is not funding, but training, marketing, or counseling. The Women’s Business Centers are a nationwide network that provides business training, advice, and other resources to help women start and grow successful businesses. You can also stop by any Small Business Development Centers (they have nearly 1,000 centers across the country) where you can get counseling and training, a fascinating fact is that women make up approximately 45 percent of SBDC clients.
If you need capital, think outside the box!
Not everything is about commercial loans or investors. Use crowdfunding, with platforms like Kickstarter and Indigogo, or Prosper and Kiva for lending-based platforms.
There are specific platforms that only fund women-owned businesses like iFundWomen
“iFundWomen is a startup funding platform that provides access to capital through crowdfunding and grants, expert startup coaching, and lucrative connections that will power you up throughout your startup journey. No more waiting. It’s time to get funded.”
Or Women’sNet, who through The Amber Foundation, helps women start businesses and helps existing ones grow. The grants may go from $4,000 up to $25,000 with the sole purpose of getting you started. There is no requirement or expectation to repay the funds.
A long road ahead
According to American Express OPEN, the 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, there are an estimated 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. that employ nearly 9 million people and generate more than $1.6 trillion in revenues.” Still, there is so much to do regarding access to capital, equal pay, motherhood, and the labor market, but that will be for later posts.
For now, I find it essential to say that it is crucial to strengthen the SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs. Incentivize SBA lenders to make more loans to women and allocate more funds to business training services for women entrepreneurs, rural women’s entrepreneurs, women in STEM, and female minority business owners.
And most importantly, for venture capital firms and private investors to recognize that women, and our ideas, are the future of entrepreneurship and that a women-owned business is not a side hustle.