Today, we’re taking a journey into the vibrant, vital universe of women-owned businesses. Now, more than ever, women entrepreneurs are making waves, breaking barriers, and reshaping the business landscape.
Let’s dive in to the many women business owner benefits, shall we?
Unpacking the Benefits of Being a Woman Business Owner
A. The Personal Perks
When you’re a woman owned business ( or bonus points – a mama owned business!), you’re steering your own ship. There’s a sense of independence and control that comes with this role, and it’s both empowering and liberating.
Independence: As a woman owned business, you’re in control of every aspect of your business. You decide your working hours, your business model, your growth strategies – everything. This degree of independence is not only exhilarating but also allows you to shape your business in line with your personal vision and values.
Flexibility: One of the biggest perks of being a woman business owner is the flexibility it offers. Whether it’s picking up your kids from school, caring for aging parents, or simply taking some time out for yourself, owning your business gives you the freedom to juggle your personal and professional commitments more effectively.
Fulfillment: There’s a unique sense of fulfillment that comes from seeing your business idea take shape and flourish. It’s about watching something you’ve poured your heart and soul into, grow and succeed. This sense of fulfillment can be a powerful motivator, driving you to overcome challenges and achieve your business goals.
B. Financial and Legal Advantages
1. Tax Benefits
As a woman-owned business, you’re eligible for a variety of tax incentives through federal government agencies. These can significantly reduce your tax burden and free up funds for reinvestment in your business.
Federal Tax Benefits: The federal government provides a range of tax deductions and credits that female business owners can benefit from. These include deductions for home office expenses, business use of your car, and business-related travel and entertainment expenses, among others.
State-Specific Tax Benefits: Several states offer additional tax benefits to promote women entrepreneurship. These can include tax credits for small female owned businesses in specific sectors, property tax exemptions, or reduced sales tax rates.
2. Government Contracts
The government is a massive consumer of goods and services, and it’s committed to supporting small businesses, especially for female business owners and minority owned businesses.
WOSB Federal Contracting Program:
The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program was established by the Small Business Administration (SBA)l a minority business development agency committed to providing greater access to federal contracting opportunities for woman owned businesses.
This program allows certain federal contracts to be set aside specifically for qualified WOSBs, helping to level the playing field and increase participation in industries where women-owned small businesses are underrepresented.
To qualify for the WOSB program, a business must meet the following criteria:
The business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens.
The business must be “small” in its primary industry, in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry.
The woman must hold the highest officer position in the company and manage it on a full-time basis.
The woman must make long-term decisions for the business, manage day-to-day operations, and work at the business full-time during normal working hours.
How to Become a Certified WOSB
Prepare Your Documents: Before you begin the certification process, you’ll need to gather various documents that demonstrate your eligibility.
This could include items like business licenses, bylaws, financial statements, tax returns, and proof of U.S. citizenship for the woman owner.
Register with SAM.gov: The System for Award Management (SAM) is a database of vendors who are approved to do business with the federal government. You’ll need to register your business here.
Apply for Certification: You can apply for WOSB certification through the SBA’s certify.SBA.gov website. The application will ask for information about your business and its ownership, and you’ll upload the documents you prepared earlier.
Wait for Approval: The SBA will review your application and make a determination. If approved, you’ll be certified as a Women-Owned Small Business and can start bidding on set-aside contracts!
Remember, becoming a certified WOSB is not an endpoint but rather a launchpad. It can open up a whole new world of opportunities for your business. So, go ahead, take that leap, and let your business soar!
3. Business Grants and Microloans
Here are a few grant and microloan opportunities specifically tailored for woman owned businesses:
Grants for Women-Owned Businesses
Amber Grant: This grant, launched by WomensNet, awards $10,000 each month to a woman entrepreneur. At the end of the year, one of the twelve monthly winners is awarded an additional $25,000.
Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program: Fashion designer Eileen Fisher awards this annual grant to women-owned businesses focused on environmental or social change.
Cartier Women’s Initiative: This global program awards annual grants to women owned companies leading creative, financially sustainable, and socially impactful businesses.
The Tory Burch Foundation’s Fellows Program: This competitive program provides female entrepreneurs with education, networking, and grant opportunities.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: While not exclusively for women, this contest includes many women among its winners. The grant amounts range from $15,000 to $50,000.
Microloan Programs for Women-Owned Businesses
SBA Microloan Program: The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Microloan Program provides loans of up to $50,000 to help small businesses and certain not-for-profit childcare centers start up and expand.
Grameen America: This program provides microloans to women who live below the poverty line. The loans, which average around $2,500, can be used for any business purpose.
Accion: This nonprofit organization provides microloans of up to $50,000. Accion also offers advisory services to help business owners at every stage of their business journey.
Kiva U.S.: Kiva offers 0% interest microloans of up to $15,000 to U.S. entrepreneurs, with a special focus on women and minority business owners.
Opportunity Fund: This nonprofit organization offers microloans ranging from $2,600 to $100,000 specifically for women-owned businesses.
These are just a few examples. Remember, every bit of funding helps when you’re building a business. So, don’t be afraid to apply and take advantage of these resources designed specifically for female entrepreneurs like you. You’ve got this!
4. Legal Protections
As a woman owned business, you’re protected against discrimination and unfair business practices by various laws and regulations.
These include laws that prohibit lenders from refusing credit based on gender and regulations that ensure fair business opportunities for women owned companies in federal contracting.
C. Impact on the Business Ecosystem
Your business isn’t just a standalone entity. It’s part of a larger ecosystem, and as a female business owner, you have the power to influence this ecosystem in significant ways.
1. Promoting Diversity and Inclusion: By establishing and growing your business, you’re contributing to a more diverse and inclusive business landscape. Diversity fosters innovation and creativity, so your business is helping to drive these essential elements of business success.
2. Championing Gender Equality: Your success as a small business owner helps to challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes. It sends a powerful message about women’s abilities and potential, helping to break down barriers and promote gender equality.
3. Inspiring Future Generations: As a small business owner, you’re a role model for future generations of women entrepreneurs. Your journey can inspire other women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams, helping to create a more supportive and encouraging environment for women in business.
D. Corporate Initiatives: Empowering Women-Owned Businesses
Today, more than ever, private sector organizations are recognizing the value that women-owned businesses bring to the table. To foster their growth, a number of significant corporate initiatives have been launched, targeting different facets of entrepreneurial success.
1. AT&T Supplier Diversity Program:
This private sector program is committed to promoting, increasing, and improving the participation of minority and women-owned businesses in its supply chain.
The company has a stated goal to spend 21.5% of its procurement budget with diverse suppliers, making it a noteworthy opportunity for certified women-owned businesses.
Here’s a guide to help you take advantage of this opportunity:
Become Certified: AT&T requires that businesses are certified as women-owned by a third-party organization. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is one such certifier. Having a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification from the SBA may also be useful.
Register with AT&T Supplier Diversity: Once you’ve obtained your certification, your next step will be to register your business with the AT&T Supplier Diversity Program. This involves filling out a registration form on their website and providing information about your business, such as your capabilities, certifications, and past performance.
Network: Attend AT&T Supplier Diversity outreach events. These events provide you with an opportunity to meet AT&T procurement managers and learn more about their needs and how your business can help meet them.
Respond to RFPs: Once you’re registered and have started making connections, be on the lookout for Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from AT&T. Make sure your proposals are professional, competitive, and highlight the unique value your women-owned business can bring to AT&T.
Stay Compliant and Up-to-Date: Keep your business information and certification status up-to-date with AT&T. If your business evolves or grows, make sure AT&T is aware. This will ensure you remain in good standing and continue to get relevant opportunities.
Working with a big corporation like AT&T can be a significant boost for your women-owned business. Not only does it provide a stable source of income, but it also adds a prestigious name to your client list. So, put your best foot forward, and show them what your amazing women-owned business has to offer!
2. Wal-Mart Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative:
Wal-Mart, one of the largest retailers in the world, is making strides to empower women across its global supply chain.
As part of this initiative, the company has pledged to source $20 billion from women-owned businesses in the U.S and promote diversity and inclusion throughout its operations. This means more opportunities for women entrepreneurs to gain exposure and scale their businesses.
Here’s your roadmap to take full advantage of this initiative:
Certification: Similar to the AT&T program, the first step is to become certified as a women-owned business. Walmart recognizes certifications from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and WEConnect International.
Become a Walmart Supplier: Once certified, you’ll need to apply to become a Walmart supplier. This involves a few steps:
Prepare Your Pitch: This should include a detailed description of your product, what makes it unique, and why it would be a good fit for Walmart’s customers. Remember, you’re not just selling your product, you’re selling your business and your story as a women-owned business.
Understand Walmart’s Standards: Walmart has high standards for its suppliers. Make sure you understand the requirements for product liability insurance, quality assurance, and supply chain standards.
Submit a Supplier Application: This can be done online through Walmart’s corporate website. The application will ask for detailed information about your business, your product, and your capabilities as a supplier.
Attend the Open Call Event: Walmart hosts an annual Open Call event for suppliers. This is your chance to pitch your product directly to Walmart’s buyers. If they like what they see, you could end up with a deal on the spot!
Deliver and Grow: If you’re successful, prepare for growth! Supplying to Walmart can lead to a significant increase in volume. Make sure your production and distribution channels are ready to handle it.
Remember, becoming a supplier for a retailer like Walmart isn’t just about selling your products; it’s about forming a partnership. Show Walmart that you share their commitment to customer satisfaction and quality, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful business relationship.
Keep in mind, these steps can take time and require perseverance, but don’t get discouraged. As a woman-owned business, your uniqueness and strength are your greatest assets. So, get out there and show the world what you’ve got!
These corporate initiatives, among others, are not just about providing business opportunities. They are about recognizing the value of diversity, fostering an inclusive business environment, and driving economic growth through the empowerment of women entrepreneurs. As female business owners, it’s essential to stay aware of these initiatives and leverage them to their full potential.
In the end, it’s about building a supportive community where women business owners can thrive, innovate, and lead. After all, when women succeed, we all succeed.
Any women owned small business comes with its challenges, but as we’ve seen, the benefits are substantial and far-reaching.
From the personal fulfillment of watching your business idea come to life, to the broader impacts on the business ecosystem, the rewards of being a female entrepreneur are truly exceptional.
Remember to take full advantage of the unique opportunities and resources available to you, whether it’s tax benefits, tax breaks, government contracts, or business grants. And most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey!
Because being a woman owned business isn’t just about reaching a destination – it’s about the experiences, the learning, and the growth that happens along the way.