Since the start of the pandemic, women—and particularly Black women—have started more small businesses than men overall. Women-owned businesses are beginning to catch up to male-owned businesses, and as of 2019, make up 42% of all companies in America. In fact, according to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, there are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. and those companies employ 9.4 million people!
However, despite the recent gains women have made, we still have quite a ways to go. Women founders tend to experience more hurdles when starting a business, particularly when it comes to securing investors or a business loan, which causes women-owned businesses to start out smaller and grow slower. And though research shows women are more likely than men to attain a four-year college degree, women in leadership roles are few and far between in the workforce. As of March 2022, there are only 74 female CEOs employed at America’s 500 highest-grossing companies, though this is up from just seven in 2002.
To help women-owned businesses continue to gain traction, here are seven ways you can support them in your own life:
1. Buy from women-owned businesses
Put your money where your heart is. According to the annual Biz2Credit Women-Owned Business Study, in 2021, women-owned business profits decreased from 2020, averaging $88,995, which is $47,152 less than the average for male-owned businesses ($136,147). The most direct way to support women-owned businesses is to prioritize purchasing from these companies over some of their well-known, male-owned competition—and especially from entrepreneurs who are women of color. Find your favorite national and local women-owned businesses and frequent them often!
2. Follow and share about women-owned businesses on social
Word of mouth has more power than you’d think. Share about the products or services offered by women-owned businesses that you like, using hashtags like #WomenOwnedBusiness or #BuyWomenOwned to expand your post or story’s reach. Also be sure to follow those businesses on social media and engage with their posts to help boost their presence in the social algorithms. Having a larger following also helps provide more credibility to those great small, yet growing brands trying to gain their footing in a competitive landscape.
3. Intentionally contract with women-owned business vendors
If you own a business, make it a goal in 2023 to intentionally support more women-owned businesses through the vendors you work with. If you need suggestions, companies like Packed With Purpose are great options for corporate gifting. Packed With Purpose was founded by Peace Corp volunteer Leeatt Rothschild and supports other women-owned businesses through its purpose-driven corporate gift boxes for all holidays and occasions.
4. Mentor women
It’s no secret, women in business face different challenges than their male counterparts. Successful women founders have a unique perspective that could help support aspiring women entrepreneurs as they venture into business themselves. If you have hard-earned wisdom to share, please do so! And if not, you can support women mentorship nonprofit organizations. You can also look into if your workplace offers mentorship programs for women—speak with your HR team, and if there isn’t one in place, suggest starting one in your office.
5. Donate to organizations that support women in the workforce
While there are several nonprofit organizations dedicated to assisting women in business, here are a couple you might consider:
- Step Up provides mentorship for young girls to support their personal and professional growth—you can donate your money or time by signing up to be a mentor yourself.
- Women’s Venture Fund helps women build successful businesses in urban communities, and even offers one-on-one sessions with an advisor. The organization is currently seeking volunteers with at least eight years of expertise in accounting, marketing, supply chain management and other areas.
- Astia is a global organization that aims to level the investment playing field by investing in high-growth companies with women leaders. It also provides an entrepreneur mentor program and access to expert advisors for feedback on business plans and more.
6. Invest in women-owned businesses
Women-led startups received only 2.3% of VC funding in 2020, according to data from Crunchbase—despite the fact that women founded startups ultimately perform better. Women-owned startups generate approximately “10% more in cumulative revenue over a five-year period.” If you’re in the position to invest in companies, diversify your portfolio by seeking out women-owned businesses.
7. Review women-owned businesses online
In our digital age, small businesses are competing with large corporations with equally large marketing spends. Another free way to support women-owned businesses is to write authentic reviews on sites like Yelp, Google and even Facebook to help boost their SEO searchability. Sometimes consumers are wary to purchase from a small business they’re unfamiliar with, and a detailed review of your experience might help them feel comfortable making the purchase.
Photo by G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock