Michele Schina shares some great resources and programs that are available to help women entrepreneurs build their businesses.
I am a CPA by training and profession, and my business is committed to entrepreneurs. I am passionate about helping women entrepreneurs in particular be successful and taking their companies to the next level. And while that old saying, “It’s lonely at the top,” contains a lot of truth, it doesn’t mean that women entrepreneurs have to go it alone. There is a tremendous amount of information out there, but it can be difficult to sift through it all, especially when you’re busy with the day-to-day demands of your company. In honor of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, I wanted to share some great resources and programs that are available to help women entrepreneurs build their businesses.
- National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
NAWBO, which has over 5,000 members and 60 chapters, is dedicated to representing the interests of women entrepreneurs across all industries and propelling women business owners into greater economic, social, and political spheres of power. (Full disclosure: I am a past president of NAWBO Greater Philadelphia.) NAWBO offers resources and opportunities from marketing education to learning how to make a difference in the political arena, not to mention a fantastic network of like-minded women.
- Women's Business Development Center (WBDC)
WBDC is a regional organization dedicated to the development and retention of successful Mid-Atlantic businesses by delivering resources that enable women to start new businesses and grow existing ones. If you’re outside the Pennsylvania-Delaware-Southern New Jersey region, there may other local organizations in your area.
- Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
WBENC is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States. The organization helps promote women-owned companies to major corporations that are actively seeking to conduct business with a woman-owned business.
- 10,000 Small Businesses
Running a successful business requires a broad range of skill sets – sales, marketing, HR, finance, IT, and more. Whether you’re a one-woman shop or have a small team of employees, there’s probably at least one area you don’t know as much about as you should. 10,000 Small Businesses is a program by Goldman Sachs that enables small business owners to gain practical skills – in topics such as negotiation, marketing, and employee management – that can be immediately put into action and provides tools and support to develop a strategic and customized growth plan. It’s like a mini-MBA to help you understand the nuts and bolts of the different areas of business. The program is open to all entrepreneurs, but they are actively seeking women participants.
- ATHENAPowerLink® Program
You may be the boss, but you don’t have all the answers. Having advisors committed to your success gives you a sounding board for ideas, and provides access to important skills, expertise, and resources. The ATHENAPowerLink Program links women business owners with a panel of advisors recruited to meet the specific needs of her business. Panel members work with the owner at no charge for one year to assist her in meeting her business objectives. The program is now in 23 regions (including the Delaware Valley and continues to expand. Note: there is a nominal application fee.
- Plum Alley
Funding is an important component of any business growth strategy and there are a variety of funding options available. Crowdfunding continues to gain steam, and Plum Alley is a unique platform geared toward providing greater access to capital for female-founded companies.
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA has a wealth of resources to help entrepreneurs launch and run a small business. But if you are selling into the government sector, the Women Owned Small Business Program (WOSB) in particular can help provide greater access to federal contracting opportunities.
There are only so many hours in a day. And if you’re like most entrepreneurs – and women – you may feel like you have to do it all yourself. But you don’t – I hope you’ll take advantage of some of the great resources that are out there.