It is good news that government support for women business owners is getting attention in media like The Wall Street Journal. As entrepreneurs, we should not count on government bailouts trickling down to owners of small businesses. Although entrepreneurs surely could use SBA loans, tax incentives, and easier access to health insurance, that may come in time. For now, entrepreneurs need to remember that whatever happens, we need to remain honestly entrepreneurial. That’s how we became successful in the first place; that’s how we’ll continue to succeed.
What’s focused attention on the challenges faced by women business owners is a recent report issued by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) that outlines policy priorities of women-owned businesses. The key recommendations in the full report come from participants in NWBC’s nationwide series of town hall meetings.
Government initiatives to help women-owned businesses would be welcome, especially if they would help level the playing field. But while we are working and waiting for that day to come, we should not lose sight of the small business tactics that work, including training to become a more savvy businessperson. I can personally recommend the IBM sponsored TUCK-WBENC Executive Program, which is designed to help women business enterprises to step beyond the startup phase. Small business today has to survive and thrive in a business climate that is increasingly volatile, fast-moving, and unpredictable. This program is intended to make a big difference in the way owners think about and run their businesses when they return from the five-day immersion. WBENC, aka The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, is a leading advocate for women-owned businesses and is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the U.S. and serves a critical mission to educate, elevate and advocate for the fastest growing segment of the economy.
Think long and hard about getting the training to get to the next level. Attorney Cynthia McClain-Hill points to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) as instrumental in helping her make her new business startup a success. In fact, today McClain-Hill is national president of NAWBO. Whatever organization you join, whichever program you select, the important thing is to make sure you recognize that you can grow your business by growing your business skills.
In “Through the Labyrinth,” Alice H. Eagly discusses the organizational traditions of male-led businesses that put women at a disadvantage. If you’ve ever wondered what the actual challenges are that women face in running a business, the book offers excellent case studies and anecdotes. Better yet are the lessons that help women surmount those hurdles to be the best they can be in whatever business field they choose.
Women start businesses at three times the rate of male entrepreneurs, but, for a number of reasons, do not realize the same revenues earned by men. The biggest reason is the role that women play in running family affairs, which circumscribes the time and energy they can devote to their business. The NWBC report speaks to those issues, but the reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy remedy. Women will always face a different set of challenges than men. But with the right outlook, resources, and training. women can turn those challenges to assets. As Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”