Ultimate List of Resources for Female Entrepreneurs and Women-Owned Businesses

Are you a woman looking to start your own business? If so, you would join a growing number of American businesswomen looking to found, fund, and start up their incredible ideas. Now, partially because there are 114% more female entrepreneurs than two decades ago, there are so many resources for women starting a business, from grants to networking groups to business plans. We’ve assembled this guide to be a great jumping-off point for getting your startup started, with plenty of helpful tips for women in business.

Statistics about women and small business might be a bit sobering, but it’s important to talk about them. And it’s time to change these ratios:

  • There are about 12.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., making up about 40% of U.S. businesses.

  • Only 1.7% of women-owned businesses have generated more than $1 million in revenue, and they only receive 7% of venture funds.

  • And yet, in a study of 350 startups, BCG determined that businesses founded by women deliver more than twice as much per dollar invested in revenue than those founded by men.

  • Female entrepreneurs tend to ask for quite a bit less in business financing than men (about $35,000 less), and only 25% of women are likely to seek financing for the business to begin with.

  • Women-founded businesses make good sense, as these companies outperformed companies founded by men by 63% in First Round Capital’s portfolio.

Today, there’s so much help for women starting a business, including people to network with as well as tips, tricks, guides, and grants to help a female entrepreneur succeed. Let’s dive in!

Find Funding and Grants for Female Entrepreneurs Find Funding and Grants for Female Entrepreneurs

Government Grants for Female Entrepreneurs

Start off by trying to find relevant government grants for women.

Private Funding for Female Entrepreneurs

There are also plenty of places to find private grants, angel investors, and venture funding for female entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses:

  • Amber Grant Foundation: Monthly $2,000 grants are awarded, and these monthly winners are also eligible for a $25,000 grant at the end of the year. Note that the application has a $15 fee.

  • Female Founders Fund: This organization offers early-stage grants for women. Entrepreneurs in numerous industries, including e-commerce platforms, can use their resources.

  • The Girlboss Foundation: Female business owners who work in the design, fashion, music, and arts industries can apply for these $15,000 grants.

  • Astia: This Silicon Valley-based nonprofit organization funds women-owned businesses and helps women find angel investors.

  • Cartier Women’s Initiative Grants: Helping female-run startups in key industries like green innovation, consumer goods, electronics, health, science, and more, the Cartier Women’s Initiative offers a contest with $30,000 and $100,000 prizes as well as a coaching program.

  • Women’s Startup Lab: This is a great resource for starting a women-owned business, especially in tech, and also offers the WiSE24 conferences (Women’s International Showcase of Entrepreneurs).

  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council: WBENC offers certification for women-owned businesses and sometimes also offers scholarships and grants for specific kinds of businesses. It’s an important community to join as well.

  • Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program: For later-stage businesses, this organization offers $5,000 grants to established female businesswomen.

  • MergeLane: This venture capitalist fund has been featured in Forbes and Wired and is designed primarily for “high-potential startups” with at least one female leader.

  • EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women: This program connects ambitious female entrepreneurs and gets them the resources they need to build brands.

  • AAUW Community Action Grant: The American Association of University Women (AAUW) provides one- or two-year grants to nonprofits as well as individuals with a direct pubic impact.

  • 37 Angels: Those at the idea stage can pitch to a team of angel investors and potentially receive $25,000 in funding.

  • Belle Capital USA: Companies that apply to this angel fund must have at least one female founder or C-level executive.

  • Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Events: Early-stage ideas can be pitched to angel and venture capitalist investors at this intense competition. Applications are $100 (or $50 for early-bird applications), and funds are available only to female founders.

  • Women’s Venture Fund: This organization offers grants for female business owners hoping to grow their businesses as well as lots of ways to connect, get advice, and network.

  • SoGal Ventures: A millennial-run organization meant to boost the ideas of women and minorities, their brand is centered on diversity.

  • Female Founders Alliance: This organization connects female entrepreneurs and investors.

  • LiftFund Women’s Business Center: In the southern U.S., LiftFund, a nonprofit business lender, has been helping small businesses grow. This branch of their business is dedicated to helping women and minorities.

  • Plum Alley Investments: An investment company famous for grabbing the eyes of the corporate world, this organization is focused on advancing female entrepreneurs and gender-balanced teams.

  • Vinetta Project: This investment firm’s mission is to close the gender-based funding gap.

Other Ways to Get Funding

Grants for women-owned businesses aren’t the only way for female entrepreneurs to earn. Here are some other strategies:

Resources and Business Grants for Disabled Women and Minorities Business Resources for Women With Disabilities

Business Resources for Women With Disabilities

Resources and Business Grants for Minority Women

Resources and Business Grants for Minority Women

  • Minority Business Development Agency: This organization, run by the U.S. Department of Commerce, offers female-minority-owned business grants and loans. Find one of your local MBDA business centers and access both help and capital. They set up business loans for minority women and can help people find dozens of other local connections and resources. This is the best way to find small-business grants for minority females.

  • New Voices Fund: This $100 million fund was created to empower minority women. Entrepreneurs offer capital, access, and expertise to women of color all over the country.

  • Backstage Capital: A venture capital organization aimed at helping LGBTQ people, people of color, and female business founders, they’ve invested nearly $7 million in companies founded by people under-represented in traditional venture capital circles, offering small-business loans for female minorities and numerous other groups.

  • Black Girl Ventures: Available to black and brown female founders, this crowd-funded pitch competition offers coaching as well as funding.

  • Intel Capital Diversity Initiative: African Americans, Hispanic people, Native Americans, LGBTQ people, and U.S. military veterans with technology companies can apply for Intel’s investment.

  • Startup Runway: An intense event that connects under-represented founders with investors, this is a great opportunity for those prepared to pitch.

  • Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) Grants: Native American women can look into this grant, which provides assistance to those hoping to start and sustain a business.

  • First Nations Grants: Often, this Native American organization will also offer business grants.

  • Asian Women Giving Circle: This organization is for NYC-specific, Asian American, women-led projects, often relating to culture and the arts.

  • National LGBT Chamber of Commerce: Get certified as a LGBT business enterprise to find more corporate partners and network with other businesses.

Minority-women-owned businesses also should keep in mind organizations other than those that just provide funds. For instance, under-represented founders oping to start their own business can sign up for a free 12-week Entrepreneurship Training Program through Operation Hope, while the National Minority Supplier Development Council advances minority business enterprises.

Resources and Grants for Female Veteran Business Owners

Resources and Grants for Female Veteran Business Owners

Other Small-Business Resources for Women Other Small-Business Resources for Women

Of course, money isn’t the only available form of small-business help for women. Networking groups, websites, communities, and general resources for small-business owners can be a great places to tap into as well.

Women’s Business Networking Groups Women’s Business Networking Groups

It might sound strange, but one of the most powerful assets a female entrepreneur can have in her arsenal is a mentor. Mentors and connections can help bring forward entirely new opportunities, opening doors and offering tips and help when things aren’t going as well. Here are some women’s small-business associations to consider becoming a part of:

  • The National Association of Women Business Owners: NAWBO is a dues-based organization and dates back to 1975, offering events and several forms of advocacy.

  • U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce: With both regional and national meetings, this organization helps women win government contracts, grow their businesses, and connect with other leaders.

  • The BOSS Network: The “Bringing Out Successful Sisters” network promotes and connects powerful businesswomen online.

  • Smart Women Smart Money: Providing free conferences and financial education, this organization is supported by the State Financial Officers Foundation as well as local and national sponsors.

  • Women Who Startup: Find like-minded women in an entrepreneur network that features a blog, podcast, events, and plenty of ways to connect for $99 per year.

  • Lean In: Offering “lean-in circles,” this organization has created thousands of women’s business groups for networking and connecting. It can be thought of as a helpful female entrepreneur support group.

  • Ellevate: Not necessarily only for business owners, this organization is designed around professional women helping women succeed.

  • Awesome Women: This organization is for female business owners looking to connect to a community.

  • WEConnect International: This organization is for international businesses (outside of the U.S.) run by women.

  • Ladies Who Launch: A nonprofit that runs big events for female founders, this is definitely a cool group to check out.

  • Female Entrepreneur Association: One of the top female-entrepreneur websites for connecting with like-minded professionals, this organization offers weekly videos and more.

Miscellaneous Helpful Websites for Female Entrepreneurs Miscellaneous Helpful Websites for Female Entrepreneurs

While these groups might not be tailored 100% to what an entrepreneur might need, they’re important groups for female business founders to be aware of. Some of these sites also have great business tips for women. Entrepreneurs need to network, and these groups can also help you to connect with even more communities of powerful women.

  • National Women’s Business Council: This nonpartisan federal advisory board studies and researches the world of female-led businesses and pushes for policy changes to the SBA and Congress. It’s one of the most important lobbying groups.

  • Women Impacting Public Policy: WIPP is a national organization representing female entrepreneurs that works to improve national policies.

  • National Association for Female Executives: NAFE is the ultimate businesswomen’s association, connecting high-powered executives who may or may not be in business for themselves.

  • Women Presidents’ Organization: This is a nonprofit group for female presidents, CEOs, and managing directors.

  • Chic CEO: Offering up free business plan templates, how-to guides, and plenty of resources, this blog is written specifically to help women start their own businesses.

A Quick Overview of How to Get Started With Your Woman-Owned Business A Quick Overview of How to Get Started With Your Woman-Owned Business

There are numerous resources for connecting, learning, and earning, but let’s quickly go over the basics you’ll need to know first: how to start a business. For women looking to get started with a really cool idea, the SBA’s DreamBuilder can help those ideas solidify into a business plan.

  1. Conduct extensive market research. There are many ways to do market research. Conduct focus groups. Gain feedback on your products, services, name, logo, and taglines at the early stages. And make sure that you’re in a market space where there’s a potential audience and little direct competition.

  2. Figure out your business’s structure. Depending on your funding and needs, you’ll probably prefer an LLC, S corporation, corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship. Note that you could also start a cooperative or a nonprofit, if that fits your goals better.

  3. Choose a name and start registering your business. Get trademarks, copyrights, and/or patents and start to look into what sort of permits and licenses you’ll need. You’ll also need a state tax ID and a federal tax ID. You’ll need to do a few things to fully register your business. Setting up a bank account, a website, and social media accounts at this point might be a good idea, too.

  4. If relevant, find a location. This might also be a really good time to start considering building your team and think about what payroll will eventually look like, insurance policies, and what scaling up could cost.

  5. Create a business plan. With the name chosen, the marketing research done, and some of the most important costs researched, you should have all you need to create a realistic and detailed business plan. About half of small businesses survive the first five years; a good business plan that’s both specific and adaptable can help to start you off with a realistic budget and get over that hump. SCORE has a helpful list of business plan resources for entrepreneurs.

  6. Look into funding. As a woman, you may find that business grants are available to you. Venture capital and angel investing may also be a good choice. But another solution is to apply for business loans. SBA’s Lender Match is a referral tool that can help you find small-business loans.

  7. Scale, refine, and/or revisit. Depending on how the last step goes, you might need to go back and revise your plan.

And those are the basics of how to get started!

Tips for Saving When You Get Started

One of the things that new businesses worry about is costs spiraling out of control. There are numerous ways for small businesses and startups to spend too much in the beginning, so taking calculated risks and controlling opening costs is a smart idea. See how to really master finances and save money to get started with your business.

  • Outline a strict budget. Get more detailed with your budget and plan to see what potential costs may be the right path to success.

  • Manage costs, but also manage time and attention. Master the art of delegation and see which tasks you can automate, such as banking or point-of-sale systems.

  • Buy used whenever possible. Chances are good that you won’t need a brand-new facility or brand-new filing cabinet for your business.

  • Barter with other business people. Business owners tend to be in similar situations with their cash flow. Offer goods or services as a fair trade for theirs when possible.

  • Use free options. For example, you can use open-source software like OpenOffice for writing documents, Google Calendar for scheduling things, or Asana or Trello for project management.

  • Frequently check and clean any relevant equipment. People can go out of business when key pieces of equipment break. Make sure you’re taking care of the things you need to get the job done.

  • Get coupons! There are so many ways to save money on “essentials” early on! See what sorts of deals you can get on supplies with CouponFollow.com; for instance, you can save on your business domain with GoDaddy.com coupons.

How to Support Women-Owned Businesses How to Support Women-Owned Businesses

If we as a culture can close the funding gaps between startup founders of different sexes and target more low-budget, high-success ventures, the world will be a better place. But it’s important to keep investing in other women-operated businesses, not just one’s own. Female business owners do a lot to support each other. Here are a few of the ways you can make a difference, too:

  • Partner with female vendors. Whether you’re throwing a party or buying parts for an oil rig, chances are good that you can find another female business owner in that space.

  • Join one of dozens of female entrepreneurship groups. Networking with other women is often more about giving than receiving, as lending your opinions or just an ear can really make a big difference to those struggling in sexist spaces.

  • Fund other women-led ventures. Organizations like Womentum and Three Guineas Fund provide opportunities to support female-led businesses on a global scale.

  • Read and consume media created by and for businesswomen. Podcasts, books, YouTube channels, and the like are already out there; not only do these kinds of media provide good advice, but your views, likes, and comments help keep their creators going.

  • Lend your expertise where appropriate. If you business starts to become successful, consider becoming a SCORE mentor yourself.

  • Review businesses on apps like Yelp and Google. This small thing can really help support women-run companies by helping to stem the tide of sexist comments that women-run businesses can sometimes face.

  • Thank the people who have helped you. Find ways, financial or otherwise, to help out other businesses and people who’ve guided your success.

With all of the resources available in business for women, hopefully, the trend of more and more powerful female business owners will continue over the next few decades. Get started with your plan, float your ideas to other professionals, and, most importantly, stay connected!