Financing options for businesswomen

In the United States, 30 percent of small businesses is owned by women. And they get 4.4 percent of small business loan dollars. Is it much? No, definitely not, and this is the very bad news. Female owners get only 16 percent of conventional loans and 17 percent of those SBA backed. The next bad news is that women entrepreneurs receive much less than their male colleagues. Fortunately, there is good news as well – the situation is going to improve. The U.S Small Business Administration and other organizations have localized the problem and have started working on the change of this female unfriendly environment.

If you need financing to develop or open your small company you may try these:

Angel Investors and Venture Capital

Here the possibilities for female business owners are the biggest.

Astia – Astia is aimed at promoting angel investment help for female-owned businesses. You can apply for Astia’s Expert Sift program and receive a chance to access its network of angel investors. Those applicants who are selected can count not only on financial help, but also on professional advice and useful connections.

Golden Seeds – it focuses only on early stage startups so you can try to apply for its funding if your business is in the starting phase and you are in need of the initial funding. It also offers professional advice and is a source of valuable connections.

37 Angels – it is a network of angel investors which focuses on increasing female owners’ chances to receive funding and involvement in angel investing.

Grants

Grants are another option for women seeking funds for their businesses. The choice of them is actually more limited, but in this case you do not have to worry about punctual loan payments and other obligations.

The Amber Grant – the huge advantage of this grant option is a very reduced amount of paperwork you need to go through so as to apply for money. Although the maximum you can receive is only $2,500, it gives a great opportunity for you to access some larger investments. It is a very good solution for first-time businesswomen.

Eileen Fisher Women Owned Business Grant Program – this option provides funds for women owners of established small businesses. Here you can obtain money if your business: is owned by a woman in at least 51%, has been working for at least three years and works basing on environmental and social change rules.

Small loans

Try this option if grant money is not enough and you cannot count on capital investors. There are some loans created specifically for female entrepreneurs.

Elizabeth Street Capital – its creator, Tory Burch, is a businesswoman herself. Therefore, having noticed female entrepreneurs’ problems and needs, she set up Tory Burch Foundation which works in partnership with Bank of America in order to provide funds and support to women owners. An individual loan you may receive here ranges from $500 to $50,000.

SBA Loan Programs – the Small Business Administration provides equal chances for female business owners. You can apply for an SBA backed loan in your community bank, or if you need no more than $50,000 an SBA’s Microloan would be a good option. A Woman – Owned Business Program is yet another SBA’s offer which helps businesswomen by education and resources like access to grants, funding or federal contracts to businesses.

Grants for female entrepreneurs

Women are systematically settling the world of entrepreneurship. Reports show that the number of female business owners exceeds the national average of small business growth. Since 1997 to 2014, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 68 percent (The 2014 State of Women-Owned Business Report). This is a fantastic news which proves that women have gained the power to make a huge impact on the world.

There is also some bad information – women more and more often cannot count for the financial help from banks when it comes to providing funds for their small businesses. Luckily, thanks to the technology development and wide access to the internet there are still other options like peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding and other online loans. Apart from these, there are government grants. Maybe this kind of financial help for entrepreneurs is not extremely popular and easy to get, yet still it can be a good source of money for entrepreneurs looking for some funds. And in the article we focus on the government grants to bring the topic closer and explain what it is all about.

Money you get for “free”

Who would not like to get a loan which would not have to be paid back? This kind of “free” money appeals to business owners mostly because of the fact they are not obliged to return it. But it cannot be too easy, you think. And it is not, actually, along with the money there are stipulations you must stick to. The process of receiving and operating the grant money is also complex and quite complicated. It is more or less in this way:

Step 1. You look for a grant you are eligible to.
Step 2. You must go through a strict application procedure and fulfill the compliance guidelines.
Step 3. You compete with other businesses for the same money.
Step 4. If you are successful and receive the grant you are obliged to give an account of the way you used it.

How about federal grants?

Being attracted by the ads promoting the federal grants you may feel these are a perfect way to gain your funds. Unfortunately, in the group of areas which can receive the federal grants there is no women-owned businesses area. For this reason, a better idea would be to start looking at a state level. Visit your state’s website and find business section to check whether the state offers women-owned businesses grants or not. Apart from this, check the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). This agency works to assist minorities and women who start and develop their businesses.

Private grants

You can also consider private grants. Here is the list of some you may want to check:

  1. Zions Bank — Smart Women Smart Money
  2. Wal-Mart Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative
  3. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program
  4. Huggies Brand — Mom Inspired Grants
  5. InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge
  6. Small Business Technology Transfer Program
  7. FedEx Think Bigger — Small Business Grant Program
  8. Chase Google — Mission Main Street Project
  9. Small Business Innovation Research
  10. Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corp (WVEC) Small Business Competition
  11. Idea Café Small Business Grant

10 commandments for a successful businesswoman

How is it going in the world of female entrepreneurs? Great! Women are the owners of 11.3 million of U.S. businesses. What is more, they are continuously growing in strength as since 2007 the number of women entrepreneurs has gone up by 45%. Female entrepreneurship is developing five times faster than the general U.S. average. These facts show that women are finally getting into the world of entrepreneurship and they do it fiercely and with will to fight.

Unfortunately, there is still some space for improvement. Sad statistics say that female owners usually employ only one more worker and their earnings are much smaller than these of the average private business in U.S. What should we do now? Aim higher and work harder. Development is a part of our lives and we must be prepared for many periods of hard times and obstacles which cannot stop us but help us grow. One of possible options for finding motivation is to keep in touch with other powerful women and to profit from their experience and knowledge. Here we present some motivating advice given by successful women which may inspire and build you up.

Useful tips

  • Tiana Patrice pinpoints that being oneself is crucial. Stop making comparisons and avoid thinking about failure. Your business is yours, you are unique and so is the business you own. Try to surround yourself with things that help you keep being motivated and optimistic.
  • For Tandee A. Salter confidence is necessary. Feel confident in who you are and what you doin your own individual way.
  • Jai Stone advises you to do what you love and what gives you money at the same time. However, forget about doing only things you like and which give you pleasure. Making money involves doing things you just HAVE TO do not only those you love.
  • Rachel Wilson Thibodeaux believes that to succeed you must leave aside the perfectionism. Nobody is perfect, be effective at the first place. Moreover, as Maleeka T. Hollaway says, you should focus on one thing you do well and avoid being a superwoman doing many different things at the same time.
  • For Danielle Davis it is a hard work which brings success. You must be strong and fight for your business.

  • Kiarra Solomon claims that having a family does not blight your career. Do not choose one, have both! You do not have to sacrifice family to become a businesswoman.
  • Jenenne Macklin warns that developing your company may take much more time than you expected. You must be prepared for difficulties and become your own cheerleader for the hurdle times.
  • You cannot remain in a shade. According to Audria Richmond, it is good marketing which keeps your business alive.
  • Shayla Locklea encourages to remain different and unconventional. Your business is special because it is yours. You do not have to follow anyone, just trust your intuition. Also Pamela J. Booker reminds that trust in oneself while making any business decisions is invaluable.
  • Have breaks. As Katrina L. Alexander advises, avoid making important decisions when you are in a bad physical or psychological condition.

I’m a woman. How can I get into finances?

Researches show that women tend to avoid the topics related to finances. Money and investments seem to be excluded from their area of interests and are considered rather a “man thing”. However, as life shows women are capable of managing finances well and it is rather their own wrong belief that causes a low self-confidence in this area and fear of investments and financial matters .

Nonetheless, it is not only the matter of interests. Women should be able and willing to take care of their money for their own good. Our life situation can suddenly change. Becoming a widow or a divorcee will automatically impose the obligation of dealing with finances on a woman. Being totally unprepared for such circumstances may bring a great amount of stress and bad decisions which will influence their future negatively.

This article proposes some advice helping women to get involved in the world of money and start being more bold in investing.

Do not be too eager and start with the basics

Rummage through the Internet for some basic knowledge (if you prefer talking and contact to people you may as well visit a professional adviser). Do not think of investing as a thing not for you just because you are a woman. It only seems to be so difficult because you are not familiar with the topic. It changes when you overcome the first most discouraging fears.

Using the help of a financial professional will make the process less complicated and stressful for you. You can discuss any questions with him or her. But before you start, it is important to get on well with the person you have chosen. Look for a person who is a good listener and teacher at the same time.

Apart from visiting professionals, try to find a person (it can be a friend or a family member) who will be your motivator and partner for discussion. Remember to talk to your spouse or partner about finances on a regular basis.

Use the Internet

The Internet can be a good source of information as well as motivation for you. One possibility is to follow a blog connected with women and their financial management. Other options are Twitter – follow investing companies, or FinCon where you can join a community of investing women.

Make use of workshops at work

If you have such a possibility try to utilize any workshops provided by your employer. It is a great chance to increase your financial knowledge.

Conclusions

Women should ignore their inner negative assumptions about their financial management abilities. They are usually much more talented in this matter than they think. If they can save, they can also invest. The problem lies in the lack of basic knowledge which is crucial if one wants to feel more confident in any area. Besides, women need to start talking about finances in order to find solutions to their problems and answer all questions arising. Take action immediately and stop making excuses. It will pay off.

How to keep the fleeing women on?


Companies need women in their crew, and if the female employees keep resigning from posts, it can be a sign that firm’s direction should be changed for more woman-friendly. Businesses need to create such conditions which attract female workers and discourage them from leaving for competitors or self-employment. It is worthwhile, especially now when the UK closes the borders for immigration and, thus, a lot of talented candidates. What action should be taken in order to make everyone satisfied in this game?

Fair gratitude

The matter of payment is crucial in the problem. Financial discrimination is a frequent bone of contention in the discussion about fair work-conditions for hired women. Being paid less than a man for the same work is a justified source of women’s disagreement and resignation. The only way to avoid this problem is to ensure that all your workers are paid even-handedly, regardless of their sex.

Fair evaluation

This is the next issue you must consider and take care of. If you observe differences between male and female workers’ performance or promotion, find out if the evaluation process concerning women’s performance is carried out properly.

Support progress

Putting women on top positions do not solve the real problem in the long run – it is the equal number of female and male workers progressing throughout the organization which brings help for the “roots”.

Support diversity

The example should be given from the top. Gender diversity in the organization need to be advocated by the leaders in the first place. It is their obligation to ensure that women and men are treated equally, irrespective of sex and stereotypes.

Promote flexible working

This can be a great encouragement for women with families. In fact, also for men. Flexible working should be regarded as beneficial and assented. And again, the example needs to come from the top so as to make it work. Sometimes, finish job earlier and go to see a school match – the rest should know this kind of work flexibility is not unwelcome.

Give international opportunities

International work experience is necessary for good career development. Excluding a female worker from such chances because of the fact she has children, is a mistake. Surely, this might be a trouble for mothers to leave country and work abroad. Yet, you can offer some modified options like short term/split-base assignments or those with international remit.

Health and wealth needs

When women exceed the age of 45 the issue of health problems, of both their own and their family, becomes significant. The needed support provided by employers can help them overcome the difficulties easier, and with less damage to their career.

Mothers coming back

So as to avoid losing female employees who have recently become mothers, companies must develop a certain strategy to make them eager to return. One of the most obvious ways to achieve this is creating the beneficial conditions of maternity leave and encouraging women to “be in the swim” also when they are away. After that, providing some training can help go back to the work reality more smoothly.

What is the current position of women in finance?


Analysing the statistics that show the number of women occupying senior positions in finance, we can draw such a conclusion: from the previous patriarchal society we have gone to patriarchal world of finance. What is more, data shows that men dominate the senior positions in general, not only in financial companies. Many of us probably have this subjective feeling of female absence among the seniors, since it is not difficult to observe. And the situation looks the same from a formal point of view. Catalyst inform that there are as few as 20 female chief executives in the whole Standard & Poor’s group of 500. According to Harvard Business School, the number of women employed in private- equity, real estate and venture-capital firms is set between 17 and 23 percent, and this does not concern the higher positions only, but employment in general. In the world of finance there is definitely no equal division of sexes. The sad truth is that women directors, managers or any other seniors constitute much less than a half of finance related workers.

Eternally alive stereotypes

An important question arises: why women seem to keep off finances? Or maybe it is the labour market which is continuously shunning female candidates? We can suppose that it is a normal consequence of the former society order in which men dominated this area of market (and not only this one). Maybe subconsciously, men are still considered as better candidates for finance governing positions, since they are perceived as more authoritative and adamant.


Stereotypes aside, after years of women’s successful struggle for equality, as it turns out, there is still place for improvements. Actually, this is probably women’s awareness that needs some refreshment.

Choose better quality – choose women

Interestingly, Credit Suisse Research Institute have studied the problem and their results point out that women on senior positions influence the company’s work positively and contribute to the better financial performance. It has been shown that women managers in many cases are better than men on the same position and the presence of a woman on management board brings various benefits, like higher average growth or returns on equity. Whereas men tend to incur more risk (and consequently losses) to business with their more impulsive and fiery temperament, women are just “safer”.

Growing trend

The situation has improved – after 10 years the percentage of female senior workers on boards of the biggest companies grew from 15 to 20. Observing this trend, we can suppose that it is going to continue changing for better. 2020 Women on Boards is a nonprofit organization created by 2 women who aim at increasing the number of female members of corporate boards to 20% by the year 2020. They believe that the diversity of thought is the key to successful management and such diversity cannot be realized without female representatives in the governing group. The creators of the website girlswhoinvest.org go further and their goal is 30% by 2030. All the action which attempt to mobilize women to take action in governing finances bring some optimistic prognosis for the future.

How Student Loans Impact Your Credit?

Finishing college is a great experience but it does come with a burden. Simply put, the idea here is that you do need to try all you can in order to repay the student loans as fast as possible.

You can either have a positive or negative impact from the student loans, it all comes down to the approach that you have.

Paying back the loan

After you leave school you have up to 9 months that are seen as a grace period.

Afterwards you will need to start the repayment process and obviously it can be a very demanding process.

Just because you don’t get pressured into repaying the loan, it’s safe to say that the loan is always there.

You don’t have to acquire the money and repay it at the deadline, but most people do.

How does the student loan affect your credibility and credit?

The best way you can figure that out is simply by accessing a copy of the credit report.

Usually, there are 3 major agencies that will deliver this info such as Trans Union, Equifax and Experian.

Try to get a copy for each one.

These include all the information you need such as the current status, disbursement, balance due and so on.

Not all of these might have the same information, which is why you should try and get a report from each of them.

If you repay the loans on time then you don’t have to deal with any issue.

On the contrary, you will see that you will actually have the opportunity to establish a good credit history. That will offer you a great way to acquire new loans.

On the other hand, if you default your loan you will see that the credit will get affected.

What’s your current credit score?

Included in your credit report you can find a whole lot of info about the credit cards, student loans, car loans and other similar financial products.

This information can be used by the credit bureau in order to generate the credit score and this will show what type of credibility and repayment speed you have when compared to other customers.

Obviously, the lower credit scores show that you are not reliable whereas the higher scores will show that you are not a risky investment.

This means that high credit scores will offer you faster access to loans as well as a lower interest rate.

There are many factors that can lower or increase the credit score depending on the situations. Some of these factors are more important than others, while others not so much.

  • New credit and how you manage it will obviously impact the credit score, not to mention the number of applications and inquiries you did will also affect the score as well
  • The credit history, such as the length of time you had credit for, for how long the accounts were open and how often you used the accounts
  • The debt you have, the account types you have and how many you have will also increase or lower the score. If the balances are close to the account limits the situation can be very bad.
  • Payment history, such as how fast you repay the debts and if you have any non payment situations might also affect your score quite a bit.

Student loans and the credit score

It’s important to always repay the student loans as fast as you can. If you don’t do that then the credit score will be affected.

In case the credit bureaus we mentioned aren’t reporting your credit information, make sure that you talk with the lender so he can make the necessary revisions.

Another thing to keep in mind is the debt to income ratio. If you have a very large student loan then it will be really hard to receive new credits especially if you have to start with a low paying job.

On the other hand, in case the principal balances won’t change much or they do get larger you will see that lenders won’t really feel you get enough progress when it comes to repaying the debt.

How to deal with the student loan and remove it from your life?

There are multiple methods you can use in order to eliminate this debt and get it off your back. We created a list of suggestions that will help you deal with this problem as fast as possible!

  • Try to repay the student loan as fast as you can. If you do that you will have a lower debt to income ratio. You will get access to better loans even if the income is not getting higher during the next few years or so.
  • If you find it hard to repay the student loan you can ask for forbearance or deferring your loan. This way you will be able to do only interest only payments and your balance will remain the same. It’s not the best option but it can be helpful
  • Try to talk with the lender and make him agree to a graduated repayment. This way you will have smaller payments in the first years and then these payments will gradually increase as you get access to better jobs. It’s a good idea to help you improve the debt to income ratio especially in the first few years.
  • In case you find it hard to repay the student loan, try to check out the income sensitive options. This might extend the term of your loan but you will have less of a burden to deal with. You just have to take your time and figure out the right approach here, in the end it can be very helpful.
  • Sometimes you have multiple student loans and if that’s the case you can try to consolidate them via a dedicated student loan consolidation program. It will make the total interest higher but then you do get to lower the debt to income ratio.
  • Don’t ignore the student loans and never try to default them. They need to be dealt with as fast as possible because they won’t go away even if you are in bankruptcy. Talk with the lender and figure out if you can access loan rehabilitation programs as this will help you deal with the problem!

References

https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/
https://www.cafecredit.com/free-credit-score/
https://www.cafecredit.com/free-credit-report/
https://www.cafecredit.com/
https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/glossary.action
https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/counselingInstructions.action

What is a FICO score?

FICO score – what is it?

If you are not familiar with this term yet, this article is for you. Even if you do not need a loan right now, it would be useful to know how to deal with your finances in the long term and of what you should take care beforehand. A good FICO score is the result of a whole range of your actions.

Thus, you should know in advance how to make good decisions concerning your finances because it is the FICO score which will influence your bank’s decision about giving you a loan and on what interest.

What is it then?

FICO is mostly known as a credit score that ranges between 300-850.  In fact, this word stands for the name of a company- The Fair Isaac Corp. –which analyzes a possible risk of your financial trouble in the future. Therefore, they can predict whether you will be able to pay off you debts on time.

Not without reason, anyone who is going to do some business with you (either a bank, a landlord or an insurance company) will make use of such information first.

To put it in short, you are in the best position when your score is above 760 and 650, or lower, means that you need to do some changes in your personal finance management because you do not seem a very reliable business partner. When you are in between, the decision whether you receive the loan or not will vary depending on the lenders’ individual rules.

Is FICO the only source of such information?

Of course there are other analytic companies like FICO (for example Vantage Score), but still it is FICO which is strongly established in its trade and comes to our mind as a first when we think about scoring. Most of the companies’ grade range is the same – from 300-850 – so your score would be similar in the other credit score versions.

How can I improve my score?

If your credit report – on which the score is based – does not include much positive information, you need to make some necessary changes.

In general, the score comes from the analysis of five categories concerning your credit history.

We listed them from the most to the least important factor:

  • payment history (be punctual in your payments),
  • amounts owed,
  • length of credit history (the longer, the better),
  • new credit (avoid opening many new accounts in a short amount of time),
  • types of credit in use (a mixture of various types of credit in your history can increase the score).

One thing is certain, improving your score must take some time. In one case it can be achieved sooner, in another case, later. Learn more and start building your better score!