Good news for female entrepreneurs: The number of women-owned businesses has grown 114 percent over the past 20 years, and women open an average of 849 new businesses per day, up three percent from last year, according to American Express’ State of Women-Owned Business Report. And revenue from women-owned businesses has doubled over the last 20 years — now it’s up to $1.7 trillion.
While women-owned businesses are seeing positive results across the board, the report found that female entrepreneurs are especially successful in midsize cities including San Antonio, Indianapolis, Austin, Salt Lake City, and Raleigh.
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According to the report, these five cities showed the greatest employment vitality and economic clout for women-owned businesses. What does that mean?
- Employment vitality is the employment growth rate of women-owned businesses and the average number of employees per women-owned business.
- Economic clout is the growth in the number of firms and growth in employment and revenues.
It’s not just midsize cities that are promising places to launch businesses. Seattle and Washington, D.C., rank in the top 10 for employment vitality, while Dallas is in the top 10 for economic clout. As for the best states, California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Georgia actually have the most women-owned businesses.
But women entrepreneurs don’t need to relocate their businesses to grow. Women entrepreneurs can grow their businesses wherever they are with a few key tactics.
4 Ways Women Entrepreneurs Can Grow Their Business
1. Build your network
Studies show that businesses with larger and more diverse networks grow more. And it makes sense: The wider your network, the more exposure you have to other ideas.
So connect with other entrepreneurs (especially women) to get their advice, and reach out to other local business owners to develop strategies for mutually beneficial promotions, events, and advertising campaigns. And don’t hesitate to get involved with your community and local business organizations.
2. Seek mentorship opportunities
As you build your network, think about the people you know — both new acquaintances and longtime contacts – who could serve as mentors, advisors, and sounding boards as you expand your business. Try to remember that asking for help and advice isn’t a sign of weakness, but a savvy move.
3. Increase your access to capital
Growing your business takes money, and women don’t have to boot-strap their businesses. Instead, take some time to research the many available small-business loans and grants for women.
If you’re looking for a loan, do research and look at a variety of lenders. Instead of looking at loan rates, though, compare lenders by the total amount you have to pay back and how easy it is to actually pay it back. Here’s some advice on other things to look for in a loan offer.
For grants, there are both private grants and government grants. For government grants, check grants.gov. Try searching the keyword “women” and click “grant” as the funding instrument type to narrow your results. Also, check the U.S. Small Business Administration for (non-women-specific) grant opportunities through the Small Business Innovation Research and the Small Business Technology Transfer programs.
Your business might offer the most incredible products and services, but if you don’t get the word out, you won’t gain new customers and expand your business. There are so many ways to get the word out about your business — here’s how to establish a social media presence, dive into paid marketing, develop email marketing campaigns, and host events like pop-ups.