Business Formation Resources for Female Entrepreneurs
Small Business Administration (SBA)
The Small Business Administration is a federal agency dedicated to helping small businesses through “counseling, capital and contracting expertise as the nation’s only go-to resource and voice for small businesses.”
SBA’s resources for women entrepreneurs are seemingly endless, ranging from business guides on launching and managing your business to in-person local assistance. The agency also provides funding programs or federal contracting help, along with an online learning center which fills in all the gaps.
SBA’s offerings can be accessed at all times of the year either through the website or through its physical offices across the country — regional offices, district offices, disaster offices, or loan and guaranty centers.
Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the SBA is offering disaster loan assistance to small businesses in all U.S. states and territories. Visit our guide to COVID-19 Small Business Resources to access more relief assistance in your state.
Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
With 1,000 local centers that offer no-cost business consulting and inexpensive training to emerging or blossoming businesses, the Small Business Development Center serves as the “most comprehensive business assistance network in the United States.”
You can use the SBDC website to find the center closest to you and take advantage of its available small business resources for women.
The SBDC also has various online resources for women business owners like unique offers for specific company must-haves, e-learning, and cybersecurity assistance. SBDC also hosts an annual conference that covers all topics for small businesses, featuring networking, vendors, and a tradeshow.
SCORE — a partner of the Small Business Administration — is an official resource for business mentoring and education.
With over 10,000 expert volunteer mentors waiting in the wings, SCORE offers invaluable help to small businesses hoping to establish themselves or expand to achieve their goals. The mentoring services can be accessed at one of the 300 local SCORE chapters or via email, phone, or video,
Additionally, female founders can take advantage of webinars and courses on demand, as well as low-cost local events and an expansive library of online resources.
SCORE does not require membership — you simply need to submit a mentoring request or find your nearest local chapter and see what it has to offer.
SCORE is offering small business guidance, resources, and remote business mentoring sessions during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Financial Resources for Women Business Owners
WomensNet prides itself on being one of the few places offering grants to female-founded small businesses. Opting to ditch the endless paperwork required for government grants, WomensNet makes the process quick and painless, asking just one thing of its recipients: “‘pay it forward.”
Recently doubled to $4,000 for 2020, the WomensNet Amber Grant is awarded to one female-founded business each month, with the opportunity for a winner to earn an additional $25,000 grant at the end of the year. All it takes is a $15 fee and a handful of persuasive answers to the short application.
National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
Since it was founded in 1975, the National Association of Women Business Owners has grown rapidly to support over 10 million female-owned companies. NAWBO’s goal of being a “one-stop resource to propelling women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide” is accomplished through unifying its members in strategic alliances.
NAWBO provides resources to strengthen the wealth creating capacity and economic development of its members, and influences both public policy and business culture standards in favor of women.
The organization has chapter sites across the country with frequent meetings and an annual conference: the National Women’s Business Conference. If you don’t live near a chapter, you can still take advantage of the NAWBO Institute, a new virtual online learning program.
NAWBO has several levels of membership with different responsibilities and benefits. To become a non-voting introductory member, for example, you create a NAWBO profile, pay a $100 one-time member initiation fee and monthly installments of $29.95.
Stay connected amid the COVID-19 outbreak by attending NAWBO's virtual women in busines events.
Networking Resources for Women Business Owners
As its name suggests, eWomenNetwork is a small business networking resource for women entrepreneurs. With 118 chapters across the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, the network has already grown to a considerable size, connecting over 500,000 women and men.
The organization facilitates community-building through several core initiatives, such as its annual conference, Women’s Success Summit, SpeakersNetwork, success coaches, and monthly Sip, Tip & Talk events for women in business.
Becoming a part of this ever-growing network and gaining access to exclusive resources for women business owners such as chapter meetings or private coaching sessions is simple. Interested parties just create a profile and pay a one-time, life-time initiation fee of $357 and $19.95 per month. For Platinum membership, you’ll need to add your name onto a waitlist.
eWomenNetwork has created a list of mindfulness tips to help you maintain your energy and mental wellness during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Ellevate Network is another brilliant resource for women in business looking to become a part of an entrepreneurial community. The network brings together ambitious women and world class speakers for in-person or online events.
Ellevate also offers online networking opportunities, development resources for women business owners, and personal time with Ellevate Experts. The organization has national chapters in major U.S. cities, as well as international chapters in countries like China, England, India, and Spain (to name a few).
You can apply for membership on the Ellevate website, but bare in mind that the network is looking for people who share the same values of inclusion and mutual support. Additionally, the different levels of membership depend on where you are in your entrepreneurial journey. For example, emerging entrepreneurs can pay $100 for one year of access to the community; or if you’re at the top of your game, you can pay $1,000 for access to the Executive Council.
Ellevate Network has posted a COVID-19 update on their events and resources moving forward.
National Women’s Business Council (NWBC)
The National Women’s Business Council is a federal advisory committee that focuses on issues impacting women entrepreneurs and their small businesses, making the information available to women through news, data, and public engagement activities. This is a useful resource for women interested in the bigger picture of trends affecting female entrepreneurship.
The principal avenues for accessing NWBC’s offerings are the events, such as the Small Business Roundtable Series, public meetings (usually taking place in major U.S. cities like Washington D.C. or New York), and detailed annual reports. Using these resources is free and does not require membership.
Female Entrepreneur Association
Female Entrepreneur Association is one of the largest global communities for female entrepreneurs hosting over 650,000 women from 67 countries in its network — from all industries, at all stages of company-building.
While the association offers resources for small businesses like weekly videos, a monthly magazine, and books/audiobooks to all female entrepreneurs, the real benefits come from membership; it includes free training sessions and access to the exclusive membership community of 5,000 women business owners who meet frequently to network and share experiences and advice.
You can only apply to be a member during certain times of the year, so you’ll need to sign up for the waitlist to receive enrollment notifications.
Certification Resources for Women Business Owners
Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council helps legitimize and expand women-owned businesses by acting as the “largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S.”
But certification is not WBENC’s only useful service. The organization offers networking opportunities, events and programming, as well as resources to support women with the obstacles they face in entrepreneurship.
Another initiative of WBENC is creating community through engagement in the form of awards programs, ambassador programs, enterprise forums, and advisory councils. Much of this takes place at WBENC’s Regional Partner Organizations, which are spread across the country.
Women business owners can use the WBENC website to find out more or apply for certification. Alternatively, corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits that have or are starting a supplier diversity program are eligible to apply for WBENC corporate membership which grants access to unique tools and resources, as well as unlimited national access to 15,000+ certified WBEs and WOSBs.
You can visit WBENC's COVID-19 Resources for Women-Owned Businesses page for further information and support during this time.
The National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC)
NWBOC provides a national certification program to both WOSBs and EDWOSBs. Visit the website to find details about the application and its requirements concerning ownership, control, size, and NAICS codes.
NWBOC also offers an application kit to help business owners through the process. There is a $400 minimum application fee and it can take from 6-8 weeks to process the certification.
NWBOC is appealing for women business owners who want national certification and who wish to benefit from further resources such as mentoring programs, training opportunities, and funding.