Ask SCORE by Dean Swanson
We are seeing a growth in female-owned small business owners and are currently processing more requests for mentorship from these CEOs. However, my role in today’s column is to encourage more women to consider this possibility. I’m going to share with you the recent work of a SCORE content partner who exemplifies this demographic. Rieva Lesonsky is President and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focused on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBusinessCurrents.com. She introduces herself and shares some compelling arguments and data why more women should consider this opportunity.
Lesonky explains that she started her company 14 years ago because “I was tired of making money for a company that didn’t fully appreciate my worth or didn’t treat their employees very well. I imagine some of you started your business for similar reasons. But of course, many female small business owners had different motivators for starting a business.”
An interesting survey, Elevating Female Entrepreneurs, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Office Depot, shows that 33% of female small business owners were motivated to start their business to inspire other women. Women of Color were even more committed to “inspiring other women,” with 39% saying that’s why they became entrepreneurs, and 82% of them saying they want to be successful to show other people “that it’s.” possible to overcome stigma”.
Of course, starting a business is not an easy task – it is full of obstacles, hurdles and other challenges. The women interviewed were no exception. Your biggest challenges:
• 47% had no funds
• 58% mainly had problems with high start-up costs
• 39% said equipment/maintenance fees were their biggest financial challenge
• 38% struggled to maintain a work-life balance
• 35% had problems with marketing
• 32% said it was difficult to grow
• 29% named networking as their biggest challenge
Women of Color also had other challenges. More than half (53%) of respondents felt they lacked resources during their startup journey. And 40% felt that at least some of the challenges they faced were “related to discrimination or bias based on race/ethnicity”. Additionally, 42% felt that their race/ethnicity had denied them opportunities that would have benefited their organization.
Becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t a sudden whim for these women – 84% said they dreamed of starting their own business “for as long as they can remember”. And 80% started their business based on a hobby or other “activity they already had a passion for.” The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated 61% of surveyed newer female entrepreneurs (who started in the last two years) to start a business.
And 61% of women overall and 71% of women of color were motivated enough to have a day job during startup so they could save enough money to open their business full-time.
Female entrepreneurs said it would have helped them if they had more access to resources such as cash grants (38%) or marketing materials (29%) when starting up.
The Rewards of Entrepreneurship
Despite these struggles and challenges, 73% of women surveyed believe it is easier for a woman to become a successful business owner today than it is today years ago.
As an entrepreneur, you know there are ups and downs. That’s true for me – luckily the good times outweigh the bad. And 81% of women in the survey agree, saying owning a business was an “overall positive experience.”
The most rewarding aspects of being a small business owner were:
• Be your boss – 66%
• Watch your business grow – 40%
• Realizing an idea – 36%
• Work-Life Balance – 25%
• Inspiring other women – 24%
The Power of Mentorship
Since reading this in the SCORE column, many of you have experienced the positive power of mentoring. These women agree – 36% currently have a female mentor or role model in the business world. This is especially true for women of color who, according to the survey, were almost 1.5 times more likely to have had a mentor than Caucasian women (42% vs. 29%).
Overall, 75% of the women entrepreneurs who were mentored credited this mentor with the success of their business. If you don’t already have a SCORE mentor, this statistic should convince you how important it is to get one as soon as possible if you are looking to start a business or are already in business to further grow your business!
Dean L. Swanson is a SCORE Certified Volunteer Mentor and past SCORE Chapter Chair, District Director and Regional Vice President for the Northwest Region.