There are numerous reasons why women start their own businesses. It could be that you grew tired of applying for job positions below your value. Whatever the reason, congratulations on being amid a growing number of women entrepreneurs!
And now that you own a business, the life of this organization, including its growth, depends on the capital you build and how you then manage it. The issue of funding is one that can overwhelm any business owner, and it’s even more so for women who still have to deal with men’s clubs. Don’t believe me? Then consider the responses of the 200 women to the recent Elephant in the Valley survey. Sixty-seven percent of these females, who each had at least a decade of experience in tech, reported they felt left out of networking or social situations because of their gender.
Thankfully, there are numerous funding opportunities available. A growing number of opportunities are available specifically to women-founded companies to try to overcome that feeling of exclusion mentioned above.
Here are five amazing ways to fund your business:
1. Women Entrepreneurs and Competitions
Entrepreneur competitions typically feature a prize, such as money, which the winner gets for having the best idea or product. But there are other reasons to enter these competitions than solely to get first place.
Entrepreneur competitions can challenge you and even get you to a point where you create something you might not have otherwise come up with. You’ll also likely have access to mentors when you sign up for the contest; these people can become long-lasting connections who provide you with insider tips on funding. They might even turn out to provide you with funding themselves if they really like your idea or see the potential in you.
There are numerous competitions in both the public and private sectors open to women entrepreneurs. If you keep showcasing your ideas, then your chances of landing an investor to fund your project are very high. The high number of people looking for a business for sale might surprise you. And if you win a contest, then you can get a cash prize, among other offers.
2. Women-centric Initiatives
To help females get equal opportunities and to retain them longer, many organizations are creating women-friendly initiatives. Governments around the world, including Canada, are also creating programs that encourage women entrepreneurship. They offer opportunities such as:
- Low-interest loans
- Market opportunities
These programs for women entrepreneurs can help you overcome problems like receiving lower-than-expected financing, not to mention aiding in creating more inclusive environments. Thankfully many women-centric initiatives do not require collateral security when giving out loans.
Small business grants are another way to get funding. For some billionaires and millionaires, they enjoy giving funds to help develop businesses, like startups. So, look for grants available from foundations and other sources. You will find that some organizations have annual grants that go out to anyone who applies for them and meets the requirements. Some of them are even very specific in giving out these funds to women entrepreneurs.
To improve your chances of grant approval, work now on organizing your business. That includes creating a business plan and marketing strategy. Also, some foundations and organizations that give grants have prerequisites for applicants. For example, some might need a business to be in existence for at least six months old.
4. Family Funding
Sometimes you don’t have to look very far for financial help for your small business. If you have family members or friends who can help with funding, then you might not have to look for other ways. And if you’re not happy about bank conditions, then it can be a welcome way to get funding.
But keep in mind that there are challenges of combining family with business life. If emotions make their way into business transactions, that can strain personal relationships. Consider taking their funds on loan or under a strict agreement. For example, set a rule about whether or not to talk finances at family events.
A final way to get funding as women entrepreneurs is crowdfunding. It can help launch your business and grow it. Indiegogo is one of many crowdfunding platforms out there. For example, I spoke with photographer Leela Orr who successfully used Indiegogo to gain funds to launch her book. There are also crowdfunding programs specifically for women, such as iFundWomen.
However, be careful how you go about crowdfunding. For example, set a realistic crowdfunding goal and make a timeline for how you will reach it. Also, spend time getting your crowdfunding campaign page exactly how you want it to look, including how you tell your story. Taking this extra time to prep can improve your chance of crowdfunding success.