Help or Hurt?
If you've ever stopped to think about what makes your company successful, there's one important factor you may have overlooked: your state and local governments' policies toward woman-owned businesses.
Is your own government good to entrepreneurial women? The following checklist excerpted from the Center for Policy Alternatives' State Policy Checklist: Investing in Women's Entrepreneurship will help you figure that out.
Give one point for every circled "yes." (Give half points for partial offers):
1. Does your state have and fund any of the following
Yes/No A women's advisory council to provide input to the governor
Yes/No A commission on the status of women
Yes/No A statewide women's entrepreneurship summit
Yes/No An interagency task force on woman-owned businesses to look at how agencies can increase investment in woman-owned firms
2. Do woman legislators serve on any of the following
Yes/No Economic development
3. Yes/No Does your state economic development agency have programs and staff dedicated to addressing women's business and entrepreneurial development?
4. Yes/No Do your state/local governments have a business covenant with local entrepreneur organizations to promote purchasing from woman-owned businesses?
5. Yes/No Does your state have Small Business Development Centers or other such programs that work alone or in partnerships to specifically target women?
6. Yes/No Does your state have programs (microloans, loan guarantees, incubators, Small Business Investment Companies, venture/angel capital resources, etc.) that increase access to capital for woman businesses of all sizes and types?
7. Yes/No Do all of your state's organizations that provide services to woman entrepreneurs have Web sites with information on procurement opportunities, woman-owned firms, certification information and applications for services and loans?
8. Yes/No Does your state encourage small businesses to partner with other smaller firms in order to win large public- and private-sector contracts?
9. Yes/No Does your state market to woman business owners, encouraging them to become government contractors and providing details on achieving that goal?
10. Yes/No Does your state offer mentoring programs that bring together women looking to start or grow their businesses with successful woman entrepreneurs? Are there educational programs with structured curricula to train women entrepreneurs?
12-16: Lucky you! Your state/local government is in great shape; keep monitoring to make sure things stay that way.
8-11: Adequate, but you should encourage officials to implement more programs.
5-7: Needs improvement. Your state should get in gear and work with women's business organizations to implement programs to benefit this constituency.
4 or fewer: Dark Ages alert! Gird yourself for a long battle, because your state is truly behind the times when it comes to understanding just how vital woman-owned businesses are to the economy.