(StatePoint) Women-owned small businesses are an economic driving force. Today, nearly 13 million
women-owned businesses nationwide employ 9.4 million workers and earn $1.9 trillion in revenue.
Overwhelmingly impacted by the pandemic, 71% of women-owned small businesses reported a loss in revenues
or sales in 2020, according to a recent study. Beyond cutting costs and applying for federal
resources, women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs of color have had to get more creative than ever to
navigate the uncertain economy.
Consider these four lessons learned from women entrepreneurs who are beating the odds.
1. Seek alternative funding sources: In addition to tapping traditional bank
loans, connect with a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, or CDFI, which offers
low-cost capital with friendly repayment terms. Roxanne Best, owner of Roxtography, says she’s been able to stay afloat thanks to
low-interest loans from Northwest Native Development Fund, a CDFI supporting tribal communities that
received a grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million small
business recovery effort. To help entrepreneurs stay open and support local jobs, the initiative is
engaging CDFIs and nonprofits across the U.S. to provide women and diverse entrepreneurs with increased
access to flexible capital and training.
“We have been so inspired by the determination and perseverance of the many women business owners who
we’ve had an opportunity to support. We made a way to work together with the small business community
to offer a mix of resources that enable a sustainable and equitable road to recovery,” says Jenny
Flores, head of Small Business Growth Philanthropy at Wells Fargo.
2. Make time for a business plan: 2020 taught us to plan for the unexpected,
reinforcing that a business plan is critical for any small business. Tamil Maldonado Vega and her
husband, owners of Raíces Brewing Co., say they don’t regret opening a Latino craft
brewery right before the pandemic. While they have had hard times like everyone else during closures and
due to limits on seating and space, they felt prepared to handle those challenges thanks to a strong
business plan, which they developed with the help of their banker.
3. Pivot from crisis to opportunity: Looking for new income streams? Being
flexible while staying true to your business can help increase the chances of success. Kadijatu Ahene,
owner of Dija’s Touch Designs, specializes in African print designs. During
the pandemic, she shifted to an online model and expanded into making stylish personal protection
equipment for first responders.
4. Find strength in community: Ranjana Hans, owner of Raw Roots Turmeric, says her community has supported her health
and wellness business throughout the pandemic, and she’s learned the benefits of asking loyal customers
to promote her products in their social networks. “I have always thought that having strong connections
enriched my life, and over the course of this year, that’s become even more evident.”
Susan Wallace, head of Small Business Lending Operations at Wells Fargo, says businesses can find more
tips and resources for navigating the pandemic at the bank’s Small Business
Resource Center at smallbusinessresources.wf.com/.
“It’s important for women business owners to understand that they don’t need to go it alone. Lean into
networking and establishing relationships with fellow entrepreneurs, seek advice and counsel from
others, including financial advisors, and know there is support out there,” says Wallace.