Resources for women small business owners
Small business expert Melinda Emerson shares several resources available to help women business owners expand their networks and grow their businesses. Melinda Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady, is one of America's leading small business experts.
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Hi. I'm Ashley Meyers for the Wells Fargo Business Insight Series. Today we're talking about resources designed specifically to help women small business owners. Joining me is Melinda Emerson, the Small Biz Lady, and author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. Thanks for joining me, Melinda.
Ashley, this is one of my favorite subjects, so thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak about it.
My pleasure, Melinda. I know this is something you feel very passionate about. You even started the Melinda F. Emerson Foundation to help women and minority small business owners. Given your extensive knowledge in this area, what are some underutilized resources that women entrepreneurs should know about?
First, you should look up if there is a Women's Business Development Center in your area. These centers offer training, mentoring, and access to corporate customers, as well as microloan. The Small Business Administration has a network of over 100 women business centers across the country aimed at helping women who own small businesses.
Another great resource for women business owners is Score.org. This site offers online newsletters and webinars in addition to an extensive database of mentors, some of which are retired business executives who can help you in person or online with a specific aspect of your business.
Finally, you should consider joining NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners, which has chapters across the country that offer peer-to-peer mentoring and professional development programs for members.
Thanks, Melinda. Those tips are really helpful. What other resources would you recommend?
One resource women don't tap into enough is advice, experience, and connections of their peers. That's why I'm a big proponent of networking. Some of the organizations I recommend are Women 2.0 — and they have a fantastic LinkedIn group online. Dell has a Women's Entrepreneurship Network, what they call DWEN, D-W-E-N. There's the eWomenNetwork. And there's also the American Business Women's Association.
And don't be afraid to form your own mastermind group of women business owners. It's typically a group of four to seven peers. You can all be in the same industry with different niches or completely different businesses. You can meet monthly or quarterly, in person or online, to share contacts and grow your businesses.
I'm sure there are lots of benefits to connecting with other women entrepreneurs, but I'm curious about financing. I know that recently Wells Fargo, for example, committed to lending $55 billion to women-owned businesses by 2020. So if I'm a female business owner who wants to apply for this type of funding, where do I begin?
It's in your best interest to build a relationship with a business banker who can help you access capital when you need it — long before you need it. You can lay a financial foundation by making all of your current payments on time in order to establish good personal, and business credit. You should have strong cash flow and up-to-date financial information. And you need to show that you've invested some personal assets in your business.
Then build the relationship by keeping your business banker up to date on your business plan and any significant changes in your business, such as winning a big contract or making a major investment in your business. This includes sharing any major media recognition you receive as well.
Thanks so much for your time today, Melinda. I think these tips will help women business owners make valuable connections and put themselves in the best position to obtain financing.
No problem. I've enjoyed talking with you, Ashley.
And thank you for joining us for this segment of the Wells Fargo Business Insight Series. To learn more about how Wells Fargo Business Banking can help you, visit wellsfargo.com/biz. In the meantime, we wish you continued success.