Did you know: there are over 9 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. today?
The latest census data shows that, over the past 15 years, these women-owned firms have grown at a rate 1.5 times of other small businesses.
What financing options are available for women business owners?
The ability to obtain business funding, including short-term loans and day-to-day working capital, is crucial in enabling even more women to launch their dream businesses and keep them successful. But first, it’s important for women entrepreneurs to understand the various loan options that are available to them and how they may benefit their enterprise. Today, business owners have a variety of financing options to consider beyond the traditional methods.
Here are five tips that can help women business owners secure startup funding and keep their businesses financially strong:
1. Federal and State Grants for Women
You are not required to pay back grants, which makes them advantageous for cash-strapped new women business owners. Grants are typically described as “free money,” although they come with prerequisites and you’ll be competing with many other applicants for that same pool of money. First, you have to devote time and energy to researching and finding a grant that you’re eligible for. Then, you have to get familiar with the application and eligibility qualifications. Finally, you have to wait for approval. If you’re awarded a grant, you must report on how you used it. In other words, free federal money is not “just a click away” like you’ve been led to believe by ads, so be prepared for a complex application and approval process.
2. Types of business loans for Women
Funding doesn’t always have to come from a family member, personal savings or your personal credit card. Open up your financial horizons by researching Small Business Administration Loans, bank loans and crowdfunding. Online fundraising platforms, like “GoFundMe” or “Kickstarter,” are a modern and popular option for obtaining business funding online. Like grants, you don’t have to pay back the people that contribute to your crowdfunding campaign. But you do have to make a concerted effort to convince your audience to contribute. If you prepare a compelling case for your business and convince enough contributors, your financial dilemma could be resolved.
3. Join women business owners organizations
There are many organizations dedicated to helping women find the right financial tools to successfully launch and grow their business. A quick online search can result in a list of global networks of female innovators, investors and influencers who are dedicated to supporting other female entrepreneurs by providing information on financial resources. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a network of over 100 women business centers across the country aimed at helping women who own small businesses. Also, consider joining the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), which has chapters across the country that offer professional development programs for members.
4. Female-focused funding
There are early and late stage venture capital funds and firms who want to invest in female-owned businesses. Some opportunities are niche-specific (for example: consumer technology, internet or mobile start-ups), while others are general and open to all talented female leaders striving to create lasting impact. A quick internet search for “women’s venture capital fund” or “female founders fund” will result in a dozen or so venture funds.
A search for “women’s angel investor network” may also generate a list of angel investment groups who provide financial backing for female founders.
5. Invoice factoring for women owned businesses
After you launch, you’ll have to meet the monthly, weekly or even day-to-day financial demands of your business, including payroll and compensating suppliers and contractors. That requires consistent positive cash flow. If you’re in a financial rut, invoice factoring is a great way to get cash flow moving again.
Invoice factoring is not really a loan. Instead, it’s an innovative way to turn your invoices into immediate cash. When you factor your invoices, you receive an advance on the customer invoice, so you don’t have to wait weeks and months for payment. Compared to other options, factoring is straightforward and involves minimal paperwork. The approval process is quick, typically taking just one day. In addition to speeding up cash flow, invoice factoring companies provide clients with other valuable services, including customer credit checks and customer account reporting.
Seek out lenders with a commitment toward women business owners
As women-owned and operated businesses continue to make a tremendously positive impact on our economy, we want to do everything we can to help them prosper. Led by a team of 90 female managers and staff, Interstate Capital is committed to providing financial support for women-owned businesses.
Because our application process is easy, fully automated and online, Interstate Capital can quickly provide small-business funding without all of the strict requirements and documentation of other methods.