Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Upping the focus on women small business owners

August 3, 2022

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Despite decades of progress women still face many hurdles in the male-dominated business world, but more and more business-savvy women are finding they are their own best boss – and they have some great stories to tell business journalists.

The annual State of Women-Owned Businesses report, commissioned by American Express, found that from 2014-2019, women-owned businesses increased 21%. As of 2019, women-owned businesses represented approximately 42% of all U.S. businesses and generated $1.9 trillion in revenue. Yes, that’s trillion dollars. That’s remarkable considering that 90% of all women-owned businesses have no employees.

How do you find these women-owned small businesses?

Start by tapping into business owners in your community. Then research top-notch organizations and associations. Some helpful resources include the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), which has over 10 million members. This organization helps women business owners gain economic, social, and political power. The SBA’s Office of Women Business Ownership (OWBO) oversees Women’s Business Centers throughout the United States and is especially helpful to the economically disadvantaged. And the National Women’s Business Council is a federal advisory committee that focuses on encouraging women to start businesses in STEM fields and improving women’s access to capital.

Delving into the funding issue

If you choose the funding angle for your article, ask how they started their business and with how much money. Most women fund their businesses with loans, credit cards and personal savings. Enterprising women have also turned to crowdfunding. Your interview subject could be one of the few female entrepreneurs who received venture capital from investors. The Harvard Business Review reported that women-led startups received only 2.3% of venture capital funding in 2020.

That landscape may be changing. In 2021, Bank of America created the Bank of America Access to Capital Directory. This comprehensive resource helps women-owned businesses find funding sources. The Tory Burch and Bank of American Capital Program connects women business owners with affordable loans. Research some of these 10 VC firms dedicated to funding female founders.

Learn about their marketing

Another article angle is how did they market their businesses? Did they use local ads, social media or referrals to boost sales?

Shannon Trammell of Venice, Florida, recently celebrated the third anniversary of her Virasana Hair Salon. “I’m heavy on Instagram, stay on trend with TikTok. Many of my clients actually come from Facebook,” she said. Active in the community, she is a board member of the local chamber of commerce’s young professional group and a member of a service club that raises funds for a speech clinic. When asked the source of most of her clientele, she said: “Locals and word-of-mouth. Most of my customers are personal referrals.”

More article ideas

Women-owned small businesses have a huge economic impact on our country, but if you’re not
excited about exploring the funding and marketing aspects, increase coverage by covering other aspects of their businesses.

Since the pandemic, find out how limited childcare access affected these women’s businesses. For example, in just one week Helen Mayer’s business failed and her daycare shut its doors. This innovative mom of twins then founded Otter, a platform helping parents who need child care find stay-at-home parents to care for their children. You can also explore which companies stepped up. Bright Horizons is the largest provider of employer-sponsored child care in the U.S. Their chief HR officer, Maribeth Bearfield, said they launched 23 employer-sponsored centers and added more than 225 backup clients during 2020 and 2021.

Learn how businesswomen handle work/life balance. Ask if they still experience prejudice against women-owned or minority businesses. If you want an inspiring and BIPOC-related take, focus on statistics that show that businesses owned by women of color grew 43% and African American women-owned firms grew 50%.

Interview someone like Mirna Guardiola of San Ysidro, California. Her handbag business, Mujer Brave, was one of twelve Latina-owned businesses awarded a grant from the Eva Longoria Foundation in partnership with the nonprofit microlender, Accessity.

With approximately 4.65 million Latino business owners in the country, be sure to ask when and why they started their businesses. Guardiola is a driver for Uber and Lyft who began her business when work dried up during the pandemic. Guardiola says, “Mujer Brave is designed with the purpose of empowering each woman to believe in herself, to never give up, to fight for her dreams and to dare the impossible.”

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