- Small women-owned business were hit especially hard by the pandemic, which primarily affected service sectors, social assistance, and food services.
- As a customer, you can support these struggling shops by buying from them as well as spreading the word about their products or services on social media.
- Entrepreneurs can share industry expertise by mentoring other women, and also invest in their companies to encourage new business ventures.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Money is tight for many small businesses heading into the holiday season. Here's how you can help the women entrepreneurs in your life.
When October comes around, we typically think of it as the month of pumpkins and costumes. But did you know that it's also National Women's Small Business Month? For companies around the world, money has been tight since the outbreak of COVID-19. It has affected service sectors (hair and nail salons), social assistance (home care), and food services, which are some of the top industries for female entrepreneurs (along with law and sciences). Female entrepreneurs face enough barriers as it is — now they have a pandemic to overcome, too. If you want to support women in business, here are a few ways you can help keep them open:
1. Buy from shops owned by women
We're going to start with the most obvious option: Use your wallet to show your support. It's the easiest way to keep their finances in the green. Fire up your web browser and research which businesses in your area are women-owned. Female entrepreneurs are prevalent in a wide variety of industries. Then, the next time you need those products or services, refer to your list of local female businesses! When you're done shopping, leave an online review for that company on Yelp, Google, or Facebook; it will increase their visibility online and show other shoppers that their products and/or services are helpful.
Read more: 3 women leading the zero-waste movement reveal how they're managing to change the world while making a profit
2. Promote their business on social media
A big part of business is "who you know." If you've got the connections, use them! Hashtags like #BuyWomenOwned and #NWSBM create more awareness about these causes, and tagging an entrepreneur or their business in your post is a great way to help them bring in new customers. Not all entrepreneurs have access to the social network that you might have. Use your reach to promote entrepreneurs who are struggling during the pandemic. It's a way to advertise the message that women in business are important and need support, too. The awareness you create using social media can draw more customers to a business that wasn't known to them otherwise.
3. Invest in women-owned companies
The good news is that female entrepreneurship is on the rise — women-owned businesses have grown 21% from 2014-2019. But the bad news is that without financial support, COVID-19 threatens to close many of these companies. An investment in a start-up business can help these women get the traction they need to kick off their dreams. By helping support the women around you, you can promote the growth of female-owned companies. That investment might be the financial means an entrepreneur needs to take on the business world.
As many businesses prepare for economic uncertainty, a donation can make all the difference between staying afloat or sinking under. There are organizations that support female entrepreneurs globally. In areas of the world where education is not easily accessible to women, these donations can help advance the career of a woman who doesn't have the same resources as some might. Supporting women who are interested in business will create a world with more female entrepreneurs. If you lack the funds for a donation, you can volunteer instead. Search for local opportunities that help young women learn more about the world of business and use your time to support the cause.
Read more: Lingerie is having a moment. Boutique sellers describe the playing field and opportunities for entrepreneurs.
5. Learn more about female entrepreneurs
Visit your library or browse books online that are written by female entrepreneurs. Be inspired by the stories of the women who have overcome boundaries and found success. As you become more knowledgeable about the topic, you can share what you're learning with others. When you finish reading one book, lend it to someone and spread the stories of these empowered women. It helps start the conversation about what challenges and barriers females face in various industries. There's a lot of value in hearing about the experiences of others; it develops our understanding, compassion, and ability to listen.
6. Mentor other women
If you have the resources and skills to do so, share your expertise with other women who are looking to get into business. It might be the encouragement that someone needs to persevere and chase their dreams. In the United States, four of every 10 businesses are owned by women. By sharing your knowledge and experiences with others, you can increase that ratio. If you have a history in business, use it to bring up those who are just starting out. You can choose to mentor a specific person or make your knowledge more accessible by hosting a (virtual) talk. Offer an open invitation for any aspiring female entrepreneurs.
7. Send a supportive letter
You might not have the financial means to support a business right now, and that's okay — the pandemic has been just as taxing for individuals as it has for enterprises. Words of support go a long way to help someone who's having a difficult day (or year). You can write that you hope they'll persevere through these challenges; share that you are thinking of them and hoping that they'll make it through this rough patch. One option is to leave this message as a comment on a social media post, but you might decide to make it more personal by writing it down and mailing it. When your words reach the recipient, it may remind her of what we all need to hear right now: that everything is going to be okay.
It's tough out there for entrepreneurs. For small businesses to survive the economic impacts of the pandemic, the community needs to support them. Any gesture, no matter how small, can absolutely have a positive impact on women-owned businesses.
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