Ask SCORE: More women should start small businesses – Albert Lea Tribune

Ask for SCORE by Dean Swanson

We are seeing growth in the number of women-owned small business entrepreneurs and are currently responding to more requests for mentorship from these CEOs. However, my task in today’s column is to encourage more women to consider this opportunity. I’ll share with you recent work from one of SCORE’s content partners who is an example of this demographic. Rieva Lesonsky is President and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and custom media company focused on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog She introduces herself and shares compelling arguments and data why more women should consider this opportunity.

Dean Swanson

Lesonky says she started her business 14 years ago because “I was tired of making money for a company that didn’t fully value me or treat its employees particularly well. I can imagine some of you started your business for similar reasons. But, of course, many female small business owners had different motivations for starting a business. »

An interesting survey, Elevating Female Entrepreneurs, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Office Depot, found that 33% of female small business owners were motivated to start their business to inspire other women. Women of color were even more determined to “inspire other women,” with 39% saying it was the reason they became entrepreneurs and 82% adding that they wanted to be successful to to be able to show others “that it is possible to overcome the stigma”.

Startup Challenges

Of course, starting a business is not an easy task – it is filled with roadblocks, obstacles and other challenges. The women interviewed were no exception. Their toughest challenges:

• 47% lacked funds

• 58% mainly had problems with high start-up costs

• 39% said equipment/maintenance costs 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% cited networking as their biggest challenge

Women of color also had other challenges. More than half (53%) of respondents felt that they did not have enough resources during their startup journey. And 40% felt that at least some of the difficulties encountered were “related to discrimination or prejudice against race/ethnicity”. Additionally, 42% felt they had been denied opportunities based on race/ethnicity that would have helped their business.

Becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t a whim for these women — 84% said they’ve 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 were already passionate about.” The COVID-19 pandemic motivated 61% of new female entrepreneurs surveyed (those who started in the past two years) to start a business.

And 61% of women overall and 71% of women of color were so motivated that they worked a day job while starting out so they could save enough money to open their businesses full-time.

Women business owners said it would have helped them have better access to resources, such as cash grants (38%) or marketing materials (29%) when starting up.

The Benefits of Business Ownership

Despite these struggles and challenges, 73% of women surveyed believe it is easier for a woman to become a successful business owner today than years ago.

As business leaders, you know there are ups and downs. This has been true for me – luckily the good times outnumber the bad. And 81% of women surveyed agree, saying owning a business has been an “overall positive experience.”

The most rewarding aspects of owning a small business were:

• Being your boss — 66%

• See your business grow: 40%

• Putting an idea into action — 36%

• Work-life balance — 25%

• Inspire other women — 24%

The power of mentoring

Since reading this in the SCORE column, many of you have experienced the positive power of mentorship. 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 a mentor than white women (42% vs. 29%).

Overall, 75% of women business owners who were mentored credited this mentor with the success of their business. If you don’t have a SCORE mentor yet, this stat should convince you of the value of getting one as soon as possible if you want to start a business or are already in business, to continue growing your business!

Dean L. Swanson is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor and past SCORE Chapter President, District Director and Regional Vice President for the Northwest Region.

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