5 Great Resources for Women Entrepreneurs
Starting a venture is difficult for anyone, but it can be particularly challenging for women. There are fewer female angel investors and venture capitalists out there than men and, as a result, women entrepreneurs may be outside of the networks that angels and VCs rely on for potential deal flow.
But funding is only part of what’s needed to get a business off the ground. Among other things, you need to create your business plan, your pitch, figure out who to hire, oversee your product’s development and make sure your taxes are paid.
To help, we’ve found five great resources for women entrepreneurs to leverage while they’re building the next Cisco Systems (like co-founder Sandra Lerner) or the next Flicker (like co-founder Caterina Fake).
- 37 Angels: Women invest $50,000 to $150,000 in early stage companies. Female entrepreneurs should approach 37 Angels with fantastic teams and big market opportunities.
- Illuminate Ventures: A women-led micro-VC firm that invests in early stage companies focused on Internet platforms and SaaS applications.
- Women-owned Small Business Federal Contract Program: The Federal government sets aside specific contracts for women-owned and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses.
- National Association of Women Business Owners: A trade group of women entrepreneurs that focuses on economic, social and political spheres of power, offering a wealth of resources including CEO and leadership boot camps.
- U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce: A national organization dedicated to helping members grow their businesses and careers.
Angels and VCs
Venture-backed startups with at least one woman founder receive a smaller slice of the investment pie. Last year they landed only 13 percent of U.S. deals, according to research firm PitchBook.
37 Angels not only funds women entrepreneurs, it offers an extensive list of pertinent resource links. For example, the list includes the global community Astia, which provides access to capital and training support, and the Cartier Women’s Initiative, a business plan competition for women founders that is international in scope.
Illuminate Ventures also funds women entrepreneurs. Cindy Padnos, its founder and managing partner, told Dice News that, “Gender shouldn’t be a criteria for funding. But it also shouldn’t be a barrier.”
Many founders don’t consider the idea of pursuing government contracts to help build their business, but a number of provisions set aside work for women-owned businesses. For example, there’s the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, which certifies women entrepreneurs who own and manage 51 percent of a company’s daily operations so they can apply for government contracts. The Small Business Administration offers training classes and other resources to learn how to qualify and go about bidding.
“The government buys a lot of technology and services,” says LeAnn Delaney, assistant director of the SBA’s Office of Contract Assistance. “The first thing a woman, or any entrepreneur, needs to do is register at SAM.gov (System for Award Management) and establish a user name and profile.”
Building a business doesn’t have to be a lonely venture, even internationally. For example, there’s the National Association of Women Business Owners, which serves members in 60 countries. The majority of its members — approximately 68 percent — have employees. Then there’s the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, which not only serves members from California to New York but also Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Finally, Ladies who Launch focuses on communities of women entrepreneurs through its various chapters in the U.S. It offers services and resources that include how to use public relations, promoting your business and tracking sales.
Image: Wikimedia Commons