Question: I am thinking of starting a small business on Cape Cod. As a woman, where can I get resources to assist me in planning and launching my business?
Answer: According to the 2017 State Of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express, businesses now account for nearly 40 percent of all companies in the United States. With the increase in the number of women-owned firms a 114 percent (compared with the 44 percent increase among all businesses) from 1997 to 2017, it's evident women entrepreneurs are a powerful force within the U.S. economy.
Entrepreneur, author and small-business advocate Nellie Akalp lists some helpful resources to help female entrepreneurs as they start and grow their companies. Several to have on your radar include:
Cape Cod Women’s Association: This nonprofit organization was formed to bring together women to build relationships professionally and personally, through networking, education and personal development, whether members are in business or transition. Meetings are held the second Tuesday of the month (except July and August) with networking starting at 5:30 p.m., followed by the dinner meeting at 6 p.m. Each meeting features a guest speaker, member spotlight and networking opportunities. Members are free to bring information about their business to display. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
United States Small Business Administration: The SBA has online guides to help entrepreneurs plan, launch, manage and grow their businesses. The organization also provides a number of funding programs including loans, investment capital, surety bonds, disaster assistance and grants. Boston district office: 617-565-5590.
SCORE has a section of its website score.org devoted to female entrepreneurs. You can find a variety of resources there, including webinars and articles about overcoming business challenges and funding opportunities.
National Association of Women Business Owners: NAWBO is a dues-based organization that represents the interests of all female entrepreneurs in all industries and across the nation. Local chapters can be found across the country. There are no chapters on Cape Cod. Go to nawbo.org.
Women Who Startup – Radio Podcast: Women Who Startup is a network of female entrepreneurs who are supported by accelerators and investors in Denver, Colorado. Founder Lizelle Van Vuuren founded the organization after asking herself where were all the women in the room in corporate networking and startup events. Women Who Startup holds regular base camp events in Denver and Boulder, and there’s also Women Who Startup Radio, podcasts featuring insightful and inspiring interviews with female entrepreneurs. Go to womenwhostartup.com/thepodcast.
Association of Women’s Business Centers: AWBC is a national nonprofit that supports and sustains over 100 Women’s Business Centers throughout the United States. The centers provide training, mentoring, business development and financing opportunities to over 140,000 female entrepreneurs each year. The closest Center for Women & Enterprise is in Providence: email email@example.com or call 401-277-0800.
Walker's Legacy is a global platform for professional and entrepreneurial women of all cultures. The organization provides training programs, multimedia content and special events to empower and inspire. Walker's Legacy is also partnering with SCORE, connecting women entrepreneurs with mentors who can help guide them through startup and business management challenges. Go to walkerslegacy.com.
The Women’s Venture Fund is a New York- and New Jersey-based organization that offers training programs, one-on-one advisory services and business loans to female entrepreneurs. Their goal is to make information and resources available so that their clients’ businesses can succeed.
Women’s Tech Radio is a podcast produced by Jupiter Broadcasting that hosts conversations between women who work in all areas of the tech world — from coders, developers and engineers to founders and entrepreneurs. If you’re looking for community and role models, this is a great place to turn.
In Good Company is a New York-based co-working space that also offers much, much more: networking sessions, group "get S$% done" sessions, classes and peer mentorship opportunities for female entrepreneurs. Beyond simply providing resources for women, In Good Company aims to help women empower themselves to succeed in business. Their blog offers refreshing advice on topics from dealing with sexism to figuring out how to take maternity leave as an entrepreneur.
37 Angels addresses the untapped potential that women can bring to investing, with the goal of achieving gender equality in angel investing. The vast majority of investors are men, and 37Angels thinks including more women in the process can result in greater innovation. Their mentorship network works with women who want to become investors, and their investor training boot camp empowers female investors with knowledge and resources. Go to 37angels.com/#focus.
Astia based in San Francisco identifies and promotes high-potential women-run ventures, providing networking opportunities, mentorship and, crucially, access to investors and capital. By involving entrepreneurs, advisers and investors, they’re working to change the startup ecosystem. Go to astia.org.
While the startup world can still be a challenging place for women, there’s no reason that it needs to stay that way, and these groups are changing it for women at all levels of entrepreneurship.
— If you or a woman you know has dreamed of starting a business or is striving to grow an existing one, consider tapping the expertise and tools the above organizations offer. A good place to start is by contacting a SCORE mentor who can help you assess your needs and plan your next steps. SCORE also offers free and confidential mentoring to entrepreneurs at its over 340 chapters across the United States and via phone, email and video call (Skype and Google Hangouts). Contact: www.capecod.score.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 508/775-4884. SCORE’s Hyannis office is located at: 270 Communications Way, Ste 5a, Hyannis, 02601