Erin Andrew (left), director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership, listens to various resource partners and female business owners at a Sept. 30 meeting in Burlington.

SBA visit focused on women-owned businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration wants to promote the startup and growth of women-owned businesses across the country. That’s important to women entrepreneurs, but also their communities and the broader economy, according to Erin Andrew, director of SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership. She added that SBA efforts are having tangible results in Vermont. Andrew visited Vermont in late September to talk with women business owners about what SBA is doing to help female entrepreneurs throughout the state obtain capital. She also met with Gwen Pokalo, the new director of the Vermont Women’s Business Center, which is scheduled to open a new office this month on Pine Street in Burlington.

Laura Lind-Blum

Capital ideas: Choosing the funding to grow your business

At some point in the life of your business, especially if your vision of success includes hiring employees, creating wealth, and offering innovative products or services, you will need to consider stepping into the world of “other people’s money.”

If yours is a woman-owned business, accessing capital comes with challenges. According to a 2014 report commissioned by the Small Business Administration, on average, women start their businesses with half as much capital as their male counterparts. And as their businesses grow, the gap widens. While the vast majority of business owners rely on personal assets to fund their business start-up, undercapitalizing your business can significantly impact its ability to survive and grow. At a recent Women Business Owners Network conference, we sat down with five women business owners to hear their experiences and recommendations about finding money for their businesses.