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Women Entrepreneurs Helping Each Other

Anecdotes of Women Entrepreneurs Helping Each Other

A long-time business acquaintance of mine—Rieva Lesonsky, owner of Small Business Currents—said in a blog for SCORE “When I started covering small businesses decades ago, a woman-owned business was an anomaly. Remember that women didn’t even have the right to equal access to credit until 1974. So the fact that women today own about 36% of all small businesses in the U.S. is a significant accomplishment. So, yes, we’ve come a long way. But we have a long way yet to go.”

Women Entrepreneurs Helping Each OtherBarriers to women, in credit, connections, and other ways, have been impediments.

Nonetheless, women are now starting businesses in record numbers.

In my view, one of the ways in which women entrepreneurs succeed is through support from other such women.

Here are some examples I’ve encountered through my time as a business owner.

Women entrepreneurs helping each other

Women’s groups

The “old boys’ network”—an informal system of support and friendship through which men use their positions of influence to help others who went to the same school or college as they did or who share a similar social background—has helped men in business since time immemorial. Women weren’t admitted to full members at the Harvard Club until 1973. Some golf courses still maintain men-only playing time. What are women to do to break through or create their own network?

There are numerous business groups that women entrepreneurs can join to be part of their industry, profession, or community. Today, there are no restrictions that I know of which are based on sex. I’ve had membership in local chambers of commerce and business networking groups. But I’ve found tremendous support at various times in my work through a local Women’s Bar Association and a women’s business networking group.

Women co-owners

In many families, women continue to shoulder primary responsibility for children and eldercare. These responsibilities are particularly problematic when also trying to run a business. In one company, the two women owners made a tacit agreement that they would support each other during maternity leave and childcare obligations. Each had two children, but the maternity leave was staggered so the business was never without an owner at the helm.

Products for women

Who knows better than a woman what a woman wants or needs? Women entrepreneurs have successfully developed solutions for women, providing much needed support for each other. Here are just a few examples:

  • AnaOro, a pocketed front-closure bra designed by a breast cancer survivor (the bra can accommodate modesty pads, prostheses or lightweight breast forms as needed).
  • Diva, a reusable menstrual cup sold world wide.
  • Ellevest, an investment platform for women.

Final thought

I’m encouraged and excited to see so many women starting their own businesses today. Sure, some of the challenges that existed when I began are no more, but other challenges still exist. Women entrepreneurs supporting other women entrepreneurs is a no-brainer for success.