Business Formation Resources
There are plenty of great resources for women that will help you start a business.
Use our jump-to links to find a specific resource that will provide you with support when you begin your business journey.
In addition to the business formation resources listed below, you can also read our quick guide to starting a business.
Small Business Administration (SBA)
The Small Business Administration was created in 1953 to help support small business owners across the United States. Its services range from counseling to capital to grants, which entrepreneurs can access through the SBA website or at one of its many offices across the country.
For early-stage ventures, meeting with an in-person expert can be priceless (quite literally priceless with SBA). Also, we recommend thoroughly looking through the SBA resources available online like the Learning Center, which has free courses to help with running and starting a business, and the loans/grants informational pages.
The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) has an abundance of information specifically for women on topics like certification and funding for female-owned businesses.
Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Managed collectively by the U.S. Congress, Small Business Association (SBA), the private sector, and a number of colleges, universities, and state governments, the SBDC is a network of 1,000 local centers providing consulting and training to new or existing small businesses. While you can find a lot online, many entrepreneurs turn to the SBDC because of its free or low-cost in-person resources.
One of the SBDC’s key offerings is free, confidential business consulting. The experts can help talk you through a number of subjects ranging from starting or growing a business, disaster assistance, selling to the government, and succeeding as a female entrepreneur.
The other resource that women in business should be aware of is the SBDC’s business training to startups, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. A number of these programs are tailored specifically to female entrepreneurs and the obstacles they face.
A partner of the aforementioned SBA, SCORE is an official resource for business mentoring and education. The organization was created in 1964 and has served over 11 million entrepreneurs since. 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.
Women’s Venture Fund
The nonprofit Women’s Venture Fund (WVF) was founded in 1994 with a mission of helping women launch successful businesses in urban communities by providing funding and business development programs.
The best WVF resources for women starting out in business are the free one-one-one advisory services, events focusing on technical aspects of business formation like publicity and digital marketing, and the consolidated information about business loans (both below and above $10,000). So far, the WVF has helped over 17,000 firms.
According to the website, “[b]y troubleshooting specific challenges and encouraging women to share their experiences with other entrepreneurs, WVF is able to expedite the growth of businesses participating in our programs.”
Women Who Startup
Founded in 2013 by Lizelle Van Vuuren, Women Who Startup was originally a small group of business owners and colleagues. Since then, the organization has grown rapidly to become “a global community of women entrepreneurs and innovators.”
Women Who Startup connects female entrepreneurs through a number of programs like an annual rally, a monthly events series in several states, a podcast, and a foundation, which creates basecamps, digital education materials, grants, and technology for female entrepreneurs-in-need.
The biggest benefit of using this resource is becoming part of a larger community of women where you can float ideas, ask for advice, and gain inspiration
Association of Women’s Business Centers
Since 1998, the Association of Women’s Business Centers has used its 100 centers across the country to boost women’s economic and entrepreneurial success. These centers support over 140,000 female entrepreneurs every year through mentoring, business development, training, and financing services.
The AWBC also hosts an annual conference that women can attend to network and hear from industry trailblazers. It also has a wide selection of online learning resources (webinars and organizational development tools).
Women’s Business Development Center
The Women’s Business Development Center is a great place for early-stage entrepreneurs to find information and support. Their offices are located across the country and offer a huge supply of online resources.
Founded in 1986, the center’s goal is to accelerate business development and growth for diverse business owners in order to strengthen their participation in the economy. There is a whole section of the center’s website dedicated to startups and emerging businesses, offering tips on certification, access to capital, and more.
Additionally, as it’s a center geared toward female entrepreneurs, you can find a lot of resources tackling the problems faced by women in business (for example childcare). In-person resources include events, training, business advising, and mentorship.