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8 Government Resources to Help Women Business Owners

July 11th 2019

Believe it or not, the US government wants your small business to be successful. That’s because small businesses are a major growth engine for the US economy, so it’s in the government’s best interest to help new companies get started and to support existing businesses in need of guidance or capital.

As of 2018, 30.2 million small businesses—defined for this report as companies with fewer than 500 employees—comprised 99.9% of all US businesses, according to the “2018 Small Business Profile” published by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

To keep the economy strong, the government recognizes that it needs to help small businesses thrive. It does that in a number of ways, through a variety of organizations. Some are government agencies and others are nonprofits that are partially funded by government agencies. All provide free or low-cost services to help with starting and growing your business. Here are 8 places to check out:

America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

Funded in part by Congress and supported by US colleges and universities, SBDCs provide small businesses with free counseling and low-cost services. Many businesses use them for problem-solving, help finding resources, and networking. Check to find your local SBDC.

Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC)

For advice and guidance in how to land the US government as a client, make an appointment with your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Get free one-on-one counseling to help set yourself up for success and identify potential government clients through matchmaking events sponsored through your PTAC.

Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC)

Though a non-profit, rather than a government agency, the Association of Women’s Business Centers is recommended by the SBA. The organization manages 100 centers nationwide dedicated to encouraging and supporting female entrepreneurs. The directory at the site of local women’s business centers is a good starting point for consulting and guidance.

Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO)

This agency oversees the US government’s efforts to support women business owners through counseling, mainly. It is an office within the Small Business Administration.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)

Sign up for mentoring, locate a consultant who can advise you with a particular business challenge you’re facing, or register for a live or recorded webinar or course through SCORE’s website.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The federal government agency dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start and grow their ventures is the Small Business Administration. Through it many other agencies and programs are funded, so this is a good place to start. At the SBA website you can find resources, take free online courses, and explore the various funding options for which you may qualify.

Women’s Business Centers (WBC)

Run by the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, WBCs nationwide work with women business owners to level the playing field in starting and running their firms. Use the map to locate the WBC nearest you.

Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

Though not a government agency, WBENC is a powerhouse when it comes to certifying women business owners. It is particularly helpful if your goal is to supply major corporations. Get certified, for a fee, attend a conference, and network with fellow women business owners through WBENC.

These organizations exist, and most are funded, specifically to help women business owners get the information and guidance they need to scale and succeed. While leaders within these organizations may refer you elsewhere, start here to see what you can get for free first.

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