Historically, women have had a hard time cracking the glass ceiling in business, especially as entrepreneurs. In spite of the fact that companies run by women perform better, there are still relatively few women becoming entrepreneurs themselves. In fact, the iconic entrepreneurs of today are people like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, men who have taken novel ideas and turned them into mega corporations.
Women are just as capable of starting a small business based around one good idea, but whether you want to live your dream of owning a bakery or you’ve got the idea that will make you the next tech billionaire, starting and operating your own small business requires money. Oftentimes, this is money that the people with the passion and ideas don’t already have.
This is where small business loans come in. A loan can help you get your small business off the ground, or even make some big changes to an existing small business. There are a number of general small business loans out there, but there are also some loan programs that are meant specifically to help women break into the world of small business. These are some of our favorite small business loans for women.
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Union Bank offers loans specifically to aid women-owned businesses. This lender does require that your business be at least two years old with sales that don’t exceed $20 million per year. This makes Union Bank perfect for women who are looking to expand their small businesses or rework themselves after the initial startup period.
Tory Burch Foundation
Fashion designer Tory Burch was once an entrepreneur herself when she launched her own self-titled fashion label in 2004. Tory has since seen incredible success in the fashion industry and is looking to help other women launch their own small businesses. The Tory Burch Foundation offers financial assistance to women who are looking to start or expand their small businesses. On top of that, the foundation has a number of education resources to help women find their way in the world of business.
The Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government agency dedicated to helping small business owners turn their visions into reality. Although the SBA does not directly lend money, they will guarantee loans from local banks to small business owners up to a certain amount. The SBA also has a number of resources for women who either own businesses or are looking to start a business.
Women’s Venture Fund
One of the most well-known ways to kickstart a business is to find an investor who believes in your vision. Television shows like Shark Tank have turned this tradition into a bit of a peanut gallery, but there are still investors out there who are fighting the good fight and looking for women to support in the business world. The Women’s Venture Fund is an organization that helps women entrepreneurs to connect with investors who are interested in evening out the gender ratio among small businesses. They also run workshops to help women develop their business skills.
Loans are a great way to get the money necessary to start your own small business. However, not everyone can secure a loan or find their perfect investor match, whether it’s because they have bad credit or their ideas are too radical. For these women and others who are looking for small business funding, grants are perfect. Unlike a loan, which you eventually have to pay back, a small business grant is essentially free money that you’ve earned by impressing the right people. Here are some grants for women in small business that we like:
- Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grants
- FedEx Small Business Center Grants
- Smart Women Grants
Grants are often fiercely competitive, but so is the world of business. If you think that you’ve got the next big idea for your startup, you may be surprised at who else can be inspired by your vision.
No matter how you slice it, finding the funding for your small business is hard. Fortunately, there are lenders out there who are interested in evening up the gender gap in small business. Connecting with the right lender can be exactly what your business needs to get off the ground or make that next big leap.
For more tips and guides, visit our small business resource center.
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