Wells Fargo Texas Small Business Leader
Today, there are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses, which represents 42% of all U.S. businesses. These businesses employ 9.4 million workers and earn $1.9 trillion in revenue. Over the past five years, the number of women owned small businesses increased by 21% while comparatively, all new businesses increased only 9%. Despite their successes, women entrepreneurs still face many challenges to obtaining funding for their enterprise and building a support network to ensure their business stands out and is positioned for success. As these business owners navigate these challenges – as well as ongoing difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic- here are some steps that can help to turn these roadblocks into building blocks for their success:
Continue to explore funding options – Women-owned small businesses have been more heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with 71 percent reporting a loss in revenues or sales according to a Wells Fargo/Gallup study completed last year. As business owners continue to feel the impact of these unprecedented times, there are many assistance options to help businesses and non-profits continue their road to recovery. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a great starting point to learn about available federal resources and programs. Traditional lending products such as 7(a) loans, 504 loans and SBA express loans can provide access to capital, as well as specific relief programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). There are also many free resources and tools to help educate women business-owners on other credit and financing options. Additionally, when choosing a lender, consider financial institutions that have demonstrated a commitment and track record of working with minority and women-owned businesses, as well as a lender who may have implemented programs focused on women-owned businesses.
Identify your support network – Having a support system to lean on is a huge asset for any business owner, but it’s especially important for women. While COVID has created many unique challenges to in person networking and meeting face-to-face, it’s important as ever to seek virtual ways to get involved with organizations dedicated to supporting women business owners. For example, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) have chapters and regional partners across the country that offer peer-to-peer professional development programs for members. These organizations are dedicated to helping women find the right financial tools to successfully run and grow their businesses. Another great resource for women business owners is SCORE, which offers online newsletters and webinars in addition to an extensive database of female mentors.
Business owners should also consider the immense value of having an assigned relationship manager at their primary bank. According to a recent Barlow survey, 70% of small businesses who interact with a dedicated Account Officer are very satisfied with their bank compared to those who don’t. 
Be you and set measurable goals – Every business owner needs to consider market saturation and how to make their particular offerings stand out and get noticed. When thinking about starting a business and establishing goals, women business owners should consider both their personal and business objectives, and see where they align. What’s motivating you to establish your business and what makes your business unique? One of the most important things women entrepreneurs can do to stand out is to be their authentic selves, while planning and setting measurable goals along the way. One way to organize is to get ideas down on paper by creating a written business plan to shape your strategy. It will also be important to check-out competitive intelligence tools that can help you map your business against competitors and inform your path forward. Your business plan should reflect changes in your business, the industry or the market. With COVID-19 impacts, it is equally important to incorporate the changing needs of customers and economic conditions in order to keep your plan current and respond to the ever-changing environment.
No matter which sources you choose to fund your business, build a network, and establish a plan, remember that knowledge is power. By taking the time to arm yourself appropriately, you can confidently navigate potential roadblocks and pave the path for your business success.
 The 2019 State of Women Owned Small Businesses Report (American Express)
 Barlow Small Business Rolling 4 Quarter Data (4Q2019-3Q2020) SBO $100k-$10MM; Q: Overall, how satisfied are you with your company’s primary bank?
Val Jones is Wells Fargo Texas Small Business Leader